The abortion debate has intensified in recent days as pro-choice activists push back against a series of new state laws banning abortion due to a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but a leading pro-life voice says such abortions are nothing more than “genetic discrimination” and a disturbing sign for our culture.
In recent months, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana have adopted laws banning abortions because the unborn child is found to have Down Syndrome. The legal pushback is already underway, and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus stirred up a fierce response by defending the decision of most mothers to abort such children.
“I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted. That was not the choice I would have made. You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision,” wrote Marcus, who never had an abortion in such circumstances but said she would have.
Dr. David Prentice is vice president at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which is affiliated with the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. Prentice confirms that the vast majority of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted, and he says this takes the abortion debate down an even uglier path.
“This is not just about abortion. This is about discrimination. This is a genetic discrimination where you are saying just because these little kids have a particular set of chromosomes – in particular they have one additional chromosome – that that makes them essentially unworthy of life,” said Prentice.
“We’re starting to parse out here, pre-natally, who has a life worth living or not. It hearkens back to some of the horrific genocides of the past, that simply because someone was different, we’re just going to kill them.
“Well, now that hunt is going genetic and it’s going into the womb,” said Prentice.
Prentice says this could lead to abortions based on other characteristics discovered in the womb, including short stature or nearsightedness. He says a chilling parallel is sex-selection abortion in places like China, where the one-child policy ended up in the abortions of at least 160 million girls.
He says the idea of ending a life in the womb because it may not be the child you envisioned is horrifying to him.
“As a society, we shouldn’t accept any kind of discrimination and certainly not pre-natal, where we’re going to kill somebody before they even have a chance to be born,” said Prentice.
He says our culture is in big trouble if we start to reject children because they are not exactly what we ordered.
“This becomes commodity shopping. I want this kind of baby, I want this kind of baby and I’m just going to return them, so to speak, if they don’t match up. Again, it is horrific in this thought that we are rejecting somebody just because they don’t measure up to our own particular desires,” said Prentice.
Prentice says many women are convinced to abort their babies based on statistics suggesting their children will have severe health challenges, a low IQ, and live much shorter lives. He says those statistics are long outdated and the average life expectancy for a child with Down Syndrome is about 60 years old.
He also says the families that choose to welcome these children are overjoyed with their lives.
“It’s something like a 95-98 percent rate of happiness and satisfaction with their lives. Their brothers and sisters love them. Their parents love them. I think in one case you might say that this extra chromosome actually imbues them with additional love,” said Prentice.
Prentice is not about to speculate how the Supreme Court may eventually rule on the challenges to the state laws. But he has a simple message for any judges who hear this case.
“Do they deserve a chance at life or should we be discriminating a lethal discrimination against them? My hope is that they will rule on the side of life,” said Prentice.
If they don’t, Prentice says our culture will be much darker.
“That reflects on our relationship with all members of our species, not just unborn children. If we really consider other people simply ends to our own desires, we’re in a really sorry state,” said Prentice.