NRL News

Valuing those who are different

by | Apr 10, 2024

By We Need a Law

World Down Syndrome Day every March has a goal to highlight and promote the equal status of human beings with an extra chromosome. It calls us all to see the ability, not focus on disability. Marking a day like this is a great opportunity to focus on the beauty in difference, to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of people. In recognizing this, we can also again focus on the intrinsic value of every person, each one made in the image of the Creator.

While in Canada we love to promote the idea of diversity, the reality is that we rarely embrace it. In fact, many times we reject it altogether. Abortion is a tool used to reject those who are different. Although Canadian statistics on abortion are vague at best, international studies consistently report that as many as 90% of pre-born children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

In Iceland, the news broke a few years ago that they had basically eliminated Down syndrome in that country. This was not through medical developments or treatments, but through the abortion of babies suspected (there are many cases of false positives, as shown by those who chose to continue their pregnancy and then gave birth to a child without Down syndrome) to have Down syndrome.

The irony of a culture that promotes diversity while at the same time having the ability and desire to terminate the majority of those with Down syndrome cannot be ignored. What does this reality say about how we view people who are different in our society? Would these people who choose abortion for their children feel that other people with differences or disabilities should not be alive either?

When given a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), the vast majority of parents will hear the words “I’m so sorry,” followed by advice to terminate and try again.

Having a doctor say “I’m so sorry” immediately sets a tone that you are facing a negative situation, a situation where someone feels sorry for you. A doctor has a type of authority and knowledge that we tend to rely on – if they say something should be done, we generally try to take that advice.

But should we feel sorry for people with differences of ability?

We can tend to assume, if we are healthy and able-bodied, that being anything less would be a terrible way to live. If you’ve ever spent time with a broken arm, or on crutches, or even a really bad cold, you can quickly lose patience with the limitations that come with that.

But genetic conditions, disabilities, or traits such as those that come with Down syndrome do nothing to devalue a person. Each of these human beings has the dignity and worth that comes with being human. We are country that values equality. Men and women, are different, but equal in value. It should be our goal to view all people in this way – different, but equal in value and worth.

The reason this is so important is because the tone of our conversations has a huge impact on whether people feel accepted, and how others feel about accepting them. A doctor delivering a prenatal diagnosis should never devalue the child in the womb by suggesting they are not worth keeping, not worth carrying, because of some difference.

Discussions concerning human rights and human value should never be rooted in how ‘perfect’ someone is. Rather, they should be based on the fact that everyone has intrinsic value and the right to live. Every human being has purpose, whether we can tell what that purpose is at a certain point in time or not.

For more on abortion and fetal abnormalities, read our position paper “Aborting those who are different.

Editor’s note. This appeared here and is reposted with permission. We Need a Law is a Canadian grassroots campaign advocating for laws protecting pre-born children.

Categories: Down Syndrome