In Iceland, nearly all pregnancies where Down’s syndrome is identified in prenatal testing are aborted.
An article by American news agency CBS states that other countries “aren’t lagging too far behind”.
“The United States has an estimated (abortion) rate for Down syndrome of 67 per cent (1995-2011); in France it is 77 per cent (2015); and Denmark, 98 per cent (2015),” CBS reported.
Geneticist Kari Stefansson, a leading neurologist and geneticist, told CBS: “My understanding is that we have basically eradicated, almost, Down syndrome from our society – that there is hardly ever a child with Down syndrome in Iceland anymore.”
Patricia Heaton, an American actress who has spoken about her Catholic beliefs, tweeted: “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”
Jor-El Godsey is president of Heartbeat International, a network of American pro-life pregnancy centres in the US.
“There is nothing to celebrate in Iceland’s ‘eradication’ of babies born with Down’s syndrome through abortion,” Godsey said, according to CNA.
“These are precious human beings hand-crafted in the image of God, and no government or person on earth has the authority to rob persons with Down syndrome of their lives.”
Stefansson was equivocal when asked about the ethical implications of prenatal testing and subsequent abortions.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aspiring to have healthy children, but how far we should go in seeking those goals is a fairly complicated decision,” he said.
Prenatal testing is not compulsory in Iceland, but the option is presented to all women using healthcare services.