In 2012, the United Nations added World Down Syndrome Day to its official calendar, creatively scheduling it for March 21 because of the extra 21st chromosome possessed by people with Down syndrome.
The celebration of this holiday that the U.N. resolution created reflects the many commendable advancements for the Down syndrome community in recent decades. Legal protections in America started with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with disabilities from various forms of discrimination. People with Down syndrome have also experienced greater social acceptance, one example being Lucas Warren, a child with Down syndrome who was chosen to be the 2018 Gerber Baby.
But there is one area where people with Down syndrome still lack equal protection: abortion.
The U.S. abortion rate is 15.7%. But among babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, that number skyrockets to 67% in the United States, 90% in the United Kingdom, and nearly 100% in Iceland and Denmark. Further, Down syndrome babies are usually subject to more inhumane abortion procedures.
Nearly 90% of abortions in the U.S. occur in the first trimester. But Down syndrome babies have a different and darker fate. That’s because prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome cannot be confirmed until the late first or early second trimester. So on average, these babies are significantly more developed and may be able to feel pain when they are aborted. And because chemical abortions are not prescribed after 10 weeks of pregnancy, babies aborted because of a Down syndrome diagnosis must suffer more gruesome methods of abortion like aspiration or dilation and evacuation, which tears their tiny bodies apart.
Pro-life advocates are not the only ones saddened by this type of deadly discrimination. Fortunately, several states are addressing the issue. In fact, a lawsuit concerning Ohio’s Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act was just heard by the full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
Ohio’s law does not impede women who are determined to have an abortion regardless of their babies’ characteristics. This law simply seeks to ensure that no one conducts prenatal testing for Down syndrome in order to end their baby’s life if the test result is positive. In other words, it prohibits eugenics and provides Down syndrome babies with equal protection.
Sadly, pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have laid out arguments against the law, one argument being that it would restrict “confidential conversations” and “prevent [abortion providers] from providing nonjudgmental, medically appropriate care.” But this argument easily falls flat.
If it’s permissible to abort a baby because of its disability status, is it also permissible to do so because of its sex? Or skin color? Or, should science allow it, the baby’s IQ or athletic ability? If the Pandora’s box of eugenics is to be opened, where exactly are we to draw the line? Pro-abortion advocates are unable to answer that question.
Perhaps conceding this point, the pro-abortion groups mention that prenatal nondiscrimination laws do not help support Down syndrome babies and their families after birth. While this argument certainly has more superficial appeal than the pro-eugenics argument, it still misses the mark. A look at disability rights progress illustrates why.
The advance of disability rights has been a gradual process, starting with the ADA in 1990. Since then, additional state and federal laws have been passed to further advance disability rights, and the ADA itself was amended in 2008. No one criticized the original ADA or any similar law that moved the ball forward for disability rights simply because it wasn’t a cure-all — nor should they have. The abortion lobby’s effort to introduce that feeble argument now smells of ulterior motives, perhaps motives related to profit.
Speaking of profit, Planned Parenthood received a record $616 million dollars in federal taxpayer funding last year, and its “total assets” exceed $1.8 billion. No private organization with such mountains of wealth needs that much public funding, let alone Planned Parenthood. But you know who does need that money and could put it to excellent use? Parents informed that their baby has Down syndrome.
Why should Planned Parenthood, with its extreme agenda, get that public funding? Planned Parenthood supports taxpayer-funded abortion through all nine months of pregnancy — a position very few people agree with. Instead of forcing us to fund an independently wealthy business that violates our beliefs and supports eugenic abortion practices, let’s put that money into the hands of nonprofit healthcare providers who will love, serve, and protect children with Down syndrome and their families. What a proper mission that would be on World Down Syndrome Day and every day.
Ryan Everson is a communication integrity specialist with Alliance Defending Freedom (@AllianceDefends). He is a former intern on the Washington Examiner's commentary page.