Prenatal screening tests are rising across the countries of Europe and America and, as a result, fewer babies with Down syndrome are being born. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects a child’s facial appearance and intellectual development. Although this disability affects the child’s growth and brain function, many of those affected can live happy and healthy lives. Despite this, the percentage of mothers in America that choose to end a pregnancy after a prenatal screening test shows a possibility of Down syndrome is a high 67 percent. Iceland, however, was even higher at 100 percent in 2015, according to CBS News.

This is shocking. In America, some view abortion as murder: It is killing a child who cannot fight for themselves or decide for themselves whether they will be given the chance to live or die. However, Iceland does not view termination of pregnancy in this way. Helga Sol Olafsdottir, one of the abortion doctors at the Landspital University Hospital in Iceland said, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had huge complication … preventing suffering for the child and for the family.” Tony Perkins, president of the American Family Research Council, responded to this in a Fox News interview on August 16, 2015, stating, “Iceland is not eradicating a disease. It’s eradicating a people.”

Individuals born with Down syndrome are capable of holding jobs and community positions, finding lasting relationships and living fairly normal lives. Haldora, an Iceland-born woman with Down syndrome in her early 30s, is living a standard life with her boyfriend, full-time job and weekly improvisation class. When asked what she would say to the people of Iceland regarding this issue, she said, “It’s hard for me to say. They see Down syndrome. They don’t see me.”

Those with Down syndrome have a right to live and to grow. Their lives can be happy and successful if given the chance to take their first breaths. Ending a pregnancy due to the chance a child will have Down syndrome is brutal and shows no love from a mother. All people are equal, and each person deserves a chance at happiness. Down syndrome is not a death sentence – it’s a different way of living, and living is worth the chance.

n.parkin@dailyutahchronicle.com

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