At a recent panel discussion on the issue of abortion, the United Nations were told that the prenatal identification and subsequent termination of Down Syndrome babies is wildly discriminatory and a gross violation of human rights. Speaking to attendees, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, referred to the increasingly common practice as “genocide.”
“Here at the United Nations there is much sincere talk and normally passionate action to fight against unjust discrimination,” Auza said, as reported by the Catholic Herald. “But as firm as these commitments are in principle, many delegations, UN agencies and active members of civil society tolerate gross violations of these commitments in practice.”
As an example, he highlighted the many groups that seek to advocate on behalf of vulnerable women and girls, while remaining silent on pre-natal gender screening that often results in sex-selective abortion.
“Such tacit cooperation in this lethal form of discrimination against girls is, at least, inconsistent,” and the inconsistency is even more pronounced in what is happening with those prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, the archbishop declared.
Auza detailed the blatant hypocrisy displayed by the international community as they seek to advance the rights of those suffering from disabilities but refuse to protect Down Syndrome babies.
“Despite the commitments made in the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including that of the right to life, by all persons with disabilities,” he explained. “So many members of the international community stand on the sidelines as the vast majority of those diagnosed with Trisomy 21 have their lives ended before they’re even born.”
According to Healthline.com, almost 100 percent of babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted. In Denmark, the figure is around 98 percent. In France, it’s 77 percent, and in the United States, it is a little lower at 67 percent.
In Iceland, parents are aggressively pushed to abort children with Down syndrome; this is often done implicitly through medical professionals failing to provide a fair overview of alternative options.
“Parents are being urged to abort their children,” Eric Scheidler, the executive director of Pro-Life Action League, told Healthline. “There’s really not a fair presenting of options being offered to parents.”
In response to those who suggest that a life with Down syndrome is not worth living, Archbishop Auza cited a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics by Harvard University researchers that showed “99 percent of those with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives … 99 percent of their parents said they love their child with Down syndrome, 79 percent said their outlook on life is more positive because of their child, and only 4 percent regret having their child.”
But the UN has been very clear that when it comes to the protection of the unborn, the same international laws over the rights of those with disability do not apply.
In November 2017, UN Human Right’s Committee member Yadh Ben Achour detailed that the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities prohibits “laws which explicitly allow for abortion on grounds of impairment,” adding that that defending those with disabilities “does not mean that we have to let a disabled fetus live.”
Mary O’Callaghan, a public policy fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, told the Catholic Herald that the abortion of babies with Down syndrome is “deeply embedded in obstetrics” and leads to a “substandard model of care that allows for elimination but not treatment.”
“Medicine becomes mad science when it attacks the patient instead of fighting the disease,” O’Callaghan said, quoting late French geneticist Jerome Lejeune, who was the first person to identify the chromosomal abnormality that causes Down syndrome.
(H/T: Catholic Herald)