By Brittany Jones, Policy Manager
We celebrated World Down Syndrome Day on Wednesday. My social media feeds were full of friends and family celebrating the lives of people with Down syndrome. Yet, “fetal abnormalities” seems to be the one time that even some conservative churches are ok with abortion. When a prenatal screening or test seems to indicate that a baby in the womb may have some sort of disability or abnormality, the church often sits silently by as parents process the news. Their thoughts may wander to whether abortion may be acceptable in their situation—because it will be difficult to raise a child with a disability, because of the burden on the parents or society, because the child won’t have a “full life.” But this means that the Church has also bought into the lie that some lives are more valuable than others.
Ideas have consequences. Activists like Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and W.E.B Du Bois claimed to build a better society by weeding out those who they saw as a “drain:” “No more children should be born when the parents, though healthy themselves, find that their children are physically or mentally defective. No matter how much they desire children, no man and woman have a right to bring into the world those who are to suffer from mental or physical affliction. It condemns the child to a life of misery and places upon the community the burden of caring for it, probably for its defective descendants for many generations.”
As we discussed in A Life Worth Living, this misplaced and deluded compassion wrought heartbreaking consequences because even in the United States, 67% of babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are still aborted.
Sadly, even many in the Church have accepted some of this ideology in an attempt to show compassion to parents who are facing a difficult pregnancy. My good friend Hannah was supposed to be born with Down syndrome, and her Christian parents were encouraged to abort her.
“Finding out you were supposed to be born with Down syndrome is one of those path-changing moments in life. When you start to realize that your life could have been vastly different, or not even at all, you begin to understand that you were given a gift, an opportunity. I could have been another nameless number someone hears about on the news or reads about in an article. Instead, I have a voice, and I intend to use it for all those nameless numbers who will never have the opportunity to experience life.”
She could have been aborted, but that is not her story. Instead, she will graduate law school in just eight short weeks. She is using her voice to speak up for those whose voices have been silenced.
When parents are given a challenging prenatal diagnosis, the family of believers should be ready to step up to the challenge with them. The answer for believers should always be to walk with one another through the trials and the joys, never to eliminate a child who is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our amazing God.
Like Hannah, we have the opportunity to speak Truth and life into our states and nation. Will you pledge with us to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves? Our Family Policy Alliance Team also pledges to you to keep you updated about opportunities to advance a culture of life in your state!
Harlan’s life is Worth Fighting For.
His father, Neil Helgeson, shares the emotional story of Harlan’s difficult early months and the precious value of a human life.
Neil is president of The Arc – Minnesota, an organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Learn more about our Worth Fighting For project.