The Glory of God in Down’s Syndrome

It turns out that the most dangerous place for a person with Down’s Syndrome is the womb. Studies show that between 67% and 85% of babies who receive a diagnosis that they are likely to have Down syndrome are aborted. While this statistic represents a reduction from the 90% that once dominated the discussion, it demonstrates the terrifying reality that fully 2/3 have their lives ended in utero.

The process of identifying potential carriers of Down’s Syndrome and the high numbers that are subsequently aborted has brought some to call this a “seek and destroy” mission. Once a doctor gives a likely diagnosis for Down’s Syndrome many physicians advise the parents about their “options.”

The famous atheist Richard Dawkins was faced with this question by a woman considering the issue, and he responded by saying

Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do. I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.

At this point, Christians must stand and say that, by God’s grace, that child is made in the image of God.

All too often, conversations focus on the difficulties of raising a child with special needs. But raising any child has difficulties. The addition of Down’s Syndrome or any other genetic problem does not change any matter of substance. They are still a whole person, made in the image of God with inherent value.

We cannot fall prey to the logic of those who would argue that some life is unworthy of life (Lebensunwertes Leben). God displays His glory powerfully in the child with Down’s Syndrome because God has made them in His image. We must stand for His glory by loving, fighting for, and protecting them.

Additionally, Christians must rally around those families who have chosen life for their children with Down’s Syndrome and other genetic disorders. We must embrace and celebrate that life in the womb, and out of the womb; at home and in public; in our churches and our fellowship.

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