Last year in August, CBS reported that Iceland had almost eradicated Down syndrome. However, the small country had not eradicated the genetic disorder through a cure or a new treatment. Instead, nearly 100% of women who received a positive prenatal test for down-syndrome terminated their pregnancy. Due to the inaccuracies of some prenatal testing, only an average of one to two babies with Down syndrome are born a year.
It is important that the lives of these unborn children are remembered so that they do not slip into obscurity. The right to life is eternal and does not and will never depend on the consequences and situations surrounding the life. CBS also reported that Helga Sol Olafsdottir, a counselor for women who have a pregnancy with chromosomal abnormalities said, “This is your life — you have the right to choose how your life will look like.” This is dangerous reasoning because it essentially says that the means justify the end, and that end is your own idea of how you want your life to look.
This raises some important questions: “Can I steal from people because I want to live a rich life?” Or, the more important question: “Can I end the life of another because I want to better my own?” The answer is, of course, no, because your own right to life does not dictate that you can intentionally end another. This is why the deaths of all those with Down syndrome in Iceland is downright evil. The right to life of those who are weak and defenseless has been terminated by those who want to better their own by ending unwanted burdens, despite that burden being a human being.
The Value of Life
Alexandra Desanctis, at the National Review, quotes Jerome Lejeune, the French geneticist who discovered the chromosomal basis for Down syndrome: “It cannot be denied that the price of these diseases is high — in suffering for the individual and in burdens for society. Not to mention what parents suffer! But we can assign a value to that price: It is precisely what a society must pay to remain fully human.” Lejeune’s statement is mostly correct. If a society is to better human growth and reasoning, then it is incumbent on that society to care for those who physically cannot take care of themselves. The one fault in the statement is the idea that an arbitrary value can be assigned to human life.
Life must have intrinsic value. If it does not, then nothing stands in the way of a government deciding if certain human lives are worth preserving and if others are just a burden on the state. This was seen with the Charlie Gard case in Great Britain and in the exact reasoning Icelandic counselors are using to terminate babies. Furthermore, putting value on human life is no different than Nazi eugenics. The Nazi Eugenics programs, such as Action T4, were purposed with sterilizing or murdering those whose genetics were impure. People who had physical and mental birth defects were classified as “life unworthy of life.” Many of them were killed by carbon gassing or gas chambers. This is no different from the mass abortions of babies with Down syndrome in Iceland. Both, Iceland today and Nazi Germany deemed that those who are weaker by birth are better off dead than living.
The right to life is the greatest civil rights issue today. Every human has the right to live life to its fullest potential, no matter the circumstances surrounding its birth. Human life has intrinsic value, and that value never diminishes. In order to have a true moral society, the people must be willing to care for those who cannot care for themselves and fight for their natural right to life. Even if some need more help than others, their lives are not any less worth living.
As we mourn the loss of so much innocent life in Iceland, watch Frank Stephens explain how his life is worth living: