Iceland's 'eradication' of Down syndrome raises inconvenient questions. At least, it should.
By David Harsanyi
August 16, 2017
On average, Iceland has two people with Down syndrome born each year (CBS NEWS)
Due to the rise of prenatal screening tests, the number of babies born with Down syndrome in the Western world has begun to significantly diminish. And no one, as CBS News puts it, is “eradicating Down syndrome births” quite like the country of Iceland.
Now, the word “eradication” typically implies that an ailment is being cured or beaten by some technological advancement. Not so in this case. Nearly 100 percent of women who receive positive tests for Down syndrome in that small nation end up eradicating their pregnancies. Iceland averages only one or two Down syndrome children per year, and this seems mostly a result of parents receiving inaccurate test results.
It’s just a matter of time until the rest of the world catches up. In the United States around 67 percent of women who find out their child will be born with Down syndrome opt to have an abortion. In the United Kingdom it’s around 90 percent. More and more women are taking these prenatal tests, and the tests are becoming increasingly accurate.
Well, not everyone gets to choose what his or her life looks like. Certainly not those who are “eradicated” because they suffer from genetic disorders. Then again, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder,” Olafsdottir explains later. “We look at it as a thing that we ended.” A thing? Using an ambiguous noun is a cowardly way to avoid the set of moral questions that pop up when you have to define that “thing.” And science is making it increasingly difficult to circumvent that debate.
David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.