Last month CBS reported on the supposed success Iceland had in eliminating Down syndrome yet it was immediately obvious that the Nordic country had done no such thing. Rather, through nudging expectant mothers toward genetic testing and a cultural predisposition to abort preborn babies with the chromosomal disorder, Iceland had succeeded not in eliminating Down syndrome but rather people with Down syndrome. These are quite different things. One would be a medical miracle, the other, quite frankly, is eugenics.
Iceland is not alone among cultures that seek out and destroy what Malcolm Muggeridge called the less than “perfect blooms,” predicting abortion would be used to target “people who are not beautiful, intelligent, skilled.” They are just much more efficient in doing so. In 2002, we editorialized that abortion is not a cure and indeed might indirectly thwart efforts for one: we worry as fewer people are born with the genetic anomaly there will be less impetus for Down syndrome research.
Krista Ewert, author of a book about her Down syndrome daughter, says that recognizing the humanity of so-called flawed children expands the bounds of our tolerance and diversity. More fundamentally it fails to recognize that every human being is made in the image of God. The eugenic project of eliminating those with Down syndrome is the abdication of love, and is not cause for celebration but rather condemnation