by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
Amidst widely publicized efforts to eradicate people with Down syndrome, President Donald Trump has issued a forceful statement in their defense, calling for an end to discrimination based on genetic anomalies.
“Sadly, there remain too many people – both in the United States and throughout the world – that still see Down syndrome as an excuse to ignore or discard human life,” Trump said in an official statement recognizing Down Syndrome Awareness Month. “This sentiment is and will always be tragically misguided. We must always be vigilant in defending and promoting the unique and special gifts of all citizens in need.”
“We should not tolerate any discrimination against them, as all people have inherent dignity,” the President added.
In August, CBS News aired a report revealing that nearly 100 percent of pregnant women in Iceland whose babies test positive for Down Syndrome end up aborting their children, a statistic that many view as a sign of “progress.”
“My understanding is that we have basically eradicated, almost, Down syndrome from our society—that there is hardly ever a child with Down syndrome in Iceland anymore,” said Kari Stefansson, a geneticist and the founder of deCODE Genetics, a company that has studied nearly the entire Icelandic population’s genomes.
The selective abortion of babies suspected of having Down syndrome jumped by 34 percent between 2011 and 2014, due to “increased access to blood tests via private clinics,” according to an article by Tim Stanley in the Telegraph early last year.
Stanley cited the head of a midwife association in Denmark, who declared: “When you can discover almost all the foetuses with Down Syndrome, then we are approaching a situation in which almost all of them will be aborted.”
Also in 2016, France’s State Council confirmed a television ban of an award-winning video showing smiling children with Down syndrome, declaring that the “inappropriate” images of happy Down syndrome children might bother women who had chosen to abort their babies.
The Council stated that the video in question could not be shown since it was “likely to trouble the conscience of women who had made different personal life choices in compliance with the law.”
Crusades to terminate babies with Down syndrome are not limited to Iceland, Denmark and France. Last month, an Indiana judge ruled in favor of abortion giant Planned Parenthood in a suit brought against HEA 1337, a state law banning abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of disabilities such as Down syndrome.
In a 22-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, an Obama appointee, issued a permanent injunction against Indiana’s “Sex Selective and Disability Abortion Ban” that protected babies with Down syndrome from being aborted because of their condition.
The first “National Down Syndrome Month” was celebrated in 1984, after President Ronald Reagan signed a Congressional joint resolution proclaiming the first commemoration of its kind. It has been more than ten years since another U.S. president officially marked the celebration.
In his statement this week, President Trump noted “the significant contributions that people with Down syndrome make to their families, to their communities, and to our Nation.”
“We also salute the family members, caregivers, medical professionals, and advocates who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that these extraordinary people enjoy lives filled with love and increasing opportunity,” he said.
“This month,” he said, “we renew our Nation’s strong commitment to promoting the health, well-being, and inherent dignity of all children and adults with Down syndrome.”
Trump said that a key aim of the month is to “increase public awareness regarding the true nature of this condition, and to dispel the stubborn myths” that still surround it.
“The approximately 250,000 Americans with Down syndrome truly embody the great spirit of our Nation,” Trump wrote.
“They inspire joy, kindness, and wonder in our families, our workplaces, and our communities. We will always endeavor to make sure that their precious gifts are never maligned or taken for granted,” he said.