Here’s one of those moral dilemmas. There are three people in a room. They all have the same medical condition and are in fact the last people alive who have it. It is by no means life-threatening, nor is it contagious, and its main symptoms are physical growth delays and varying degrees of intellectual disability. There is, however, currently no cure for it.
Someone enters the room and tells you that they have found a cure, which they are going to give you. They hand you a gun. All you have to do, they tell you, is pull the trigger three times and you will have completely eradicated the condition from planet Earth. What would you do?
Not hard, is it? Yet imagine someone carrying out the killing and then triumphantly proclaiming that they had indeed eradicated the condition. You’d be appalled at the Hitlerian cruelty. Appalled at the callous disregard for a fellow creature made in the Imago Dei. But perhaps even more than that, you’d surely be sick to the stomach to hear them acting like they had found a cure, rather than having simply killed three human beings to achieve their ends. You don’t cure disease by killing people, do you?
Apparently you do. A few years back Iceland became the first “civilized Western” country to become a Down Syndrome-free zone, and Denmark is close to becoming the second. Back in 2015, CPH Post (formerly The Copenhagen Post), Denmark’s only English-language newspaper, ran a piece with the headline:
“Down Syndrome heading for extinction in Denmark.”
This must rank as one of the most misleading headlines in history. If you didn’t know better, you’d think that Denmark’s doctors had found a cure for Down Syndrome. Except they haven’t. What they have in fact done is not made Down Syndrome almost extinct, but rather people with Down Syndrome. The headline should have read: “People with Down Syndrome heading for extinction in Denmark.” Or more accurate still: “People with Down Syndrome heading for extermination in Denmark.” Doesn’t sound quite as medical, does it, unless you mean in the Josef Mengele sense of the word!
Yet this drive to eradicate Down Syndrome by eradicating people with Down Syndrome is apparently going down rather well in Denmark. According to the article, 98% of pregnant women who were revealed to be carrying an unborn child with Down Syndrome had him or her aborted, and 60% of Danes see it as a “positive development” that there are considerably fewer Down Syndrome children being born. Positive development? Ridding Denmark of Down Syndrome by curing it might be considered a positive development. But ridding Denmark of Down Syndrome by killing those with the condition? That’s a positive development???
Here’s what Britain’s biggest funder of abortions, the NHS, says about people with Down Syndrome:
“People with Down syndrome can have a good quality of life. With support from their family and others, many people are able to get jobs and live fairly independently.”
So 60% of Danes believe that the eradication from their country of “people who can have a good quality of life…can get jobs and live fairly independently” by killing them is a good thing? Have they ever seen the joy Down Syndrome people bring to those around them? Do they care? Have they any heart?
Not so long ago, Down Syndrome could not be detected in the womb. Now that it can, 98% of Down Syndrome children are aborted in Denmark, over 90% in Britain, and – most shockingly – every single Down Syndrome child in Iceland. The real test of the character of any civilization is how it treats its weakest and most helpless members. If it loves them and seeks to help them, it should be praised. If it seeks cures to treat their conditions, great. But if it seeks to extinguish the people who have the condition from its midst, and then pats itself on the back at having eradicated the condition, what grounds do we have for calling it civilized?
Rob Slane is the author of “A Christian & an Unbeliever Discuss: Life, the Universe & Everything” which is available at Amazon.ca here and Amazon.com here. He lives in Wiltshire, and definitely not Wales.