Where Have All The Down Babies Gone?

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Take a good look at these pictures. Children with Down Syndrome are rare these days. That’s because at least 85% of them never get the chance to be born. Some statistics from 2002 show that as many as 93% of babies whose prenatal tests showed a probability of Down Syndrome were never allowed to be born.

Has our society become so obsessed with perfection that we have little to no room left for children who aren’t perfect?

Is Down Syndrome really such a horrible condition that it warrants a death sentence? Let’s look at some facts.
* People with Down Sydrome are not severely retarded. Most are mildly to moderately retarded. Children with DS are educable and educators are still discovering the full potential for people with DS.
* People with DS are actively involved in their communities, playing sports, holding jobs, volunteering, socializing with friends.
* People with DS are employed in banks, restaurants, nursing homes, hotels, and corporations. They work in the entertainment industry, the computer industry, in clerical positions, and in the corporate world.

Dr. Dennis McGuire of the Adult Down Syndrome Center of Lutheran General Hospital in Illinois has written a booklet entitled, If People With Down Syndrome Ruled The World. He has worked with over 3000 teens and adults with Down Syndrome. He wrote this booklet based on that experience. I want to share with you some of what he wrote.

If people with Down Syndrome ruled the world: Affection, hugging, and caring for others would make a huge comeback.

If people with Down Syndrome ruled the world: . . . People would be refreshingly honest and genuine.

If people with Down Syndrome ruled the world: . . . a stuffy high society would not do well . . . [but] BIG dress up dances would flourish.

If people with Down Syndrome ruled the world: . . . Schedules and calendars would be followed. Trains and planes would run on time. . . . People would be expected to keep their promises. . . . Places would be neat, clean, and organized.

If people with Down Syndrome ruled the world: . . . The words “hurry” and “fast” would not be uttered in polite society. . . . Work would be revered no matter what kind, from doing dishes to rocket science. . . . Speed would be far less important than doing the job right.

Doesn’t sound so bad to me. I don’t see anything that warrants a death sentence.

I am not trying to oversimplify things. I know that people with Down Syndrome have some extra challenges; but they also have fewer challenges in some areas. They don’t feel the same pressure to be perfect and the best. The majority of people with Down Syndrome probably enjoy life a lot more than most of us. Though they definitely lack some of the abilities and talents that some people without Down Syndrome have, people with DS do have talents and abilities. They have much to offer their families and neighborhoods, their churches and communities.

Our society is most certainly poorer because we have refused these talents and abilities and gifts. We are poorer because we have murdered some of our sweetest members.



Filed under faith, life, motherhood, opinion

12 responses to “Where Have All The Down Babies Gone?

  1. Wow. Those statistics are staggering. Thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea.

  2. Almost unbelievable stats – but a great post!

  3. Those statistics are terribly high. I know some DS people and they are as you say, loving and honest people. It’s sad that we all have to strive for perfection and won’t accept or tolerate anything less.



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  5. kevin bussey

    I had no idea. I’m glad Stuart linked this post.

  6. Martha

    A powerful post, Jenn. Made me think of these verses from 1 Corinthians 1(I had to look the whole section up!):
    26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

  7. My heart breaks — not only that we are murdering an entire group of our society at an alarming rate — but my heart breaks for the families.

    Mothers who will at some time encounter a lovable, sweet person with Down Syndrome and realize what she has done.

    Fathers and mothers who strive so for perfection and who know in their hearts that the other doesn’t want to deal with disability or imperfection. How they must, deep in their hearts, fear an accident or disease that would rob them of their own abilities and the love of their spouse.

    Other children in the family who miss out on the unconditional love of a sibling, and who will one day find out about their parents’ decision. What must that make them feel about “unconditional” love from their parents?

  8. Elaine

    Don’t believe all the doctors tell you. They insisted on doing prenatal testing on me, and the results came back that I had a 1 in 6 chance of carrying a Down’s baby. My friend had the same testing, and different doctors told her that she had a 100% chance, it was definitely a Down’s baby for her. We went on to have our precious babies, come what may, trusting the Lord. Both our babies are doing fine today, mine just celebrated his tenth birthday. Neither have Down’s. Doctors are people. People make tests. People and tests are fallible. God is not.

  9. Thanks, Elaine. What a good reminder. Everyone I know whose tests showed an increase chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome has had a healthy baby without Down Syndrome. The one person I know who has had a Down baby had all the tests and even a high-level ultrasound and nothing indicated her baby had Down Syndrome.

    My theory is –in spite of what all the tests say– if God wants you to have a baby with Down Syndrome, then your chance of having a baby with DS is 100%; and if God does not want you to have a baby with DS, then your chance of having a Down baby is 0%.

    We chose not to have the quad screening with any of our babies because the outcome wouldn’t matter anyway.

    So, Elaine, I agree that many of the babies being aborted probably don’t even have Down Syndrome. But even if they all do have DS, they don’t deserve to die.

  10. Elaine

    Yes, I agree. I would have had the baby, no question. It was my first baby, and they didn’t explain why I “needed” these tests. Total scare tactics. I refused them for my second child. Somebody’s getting rather wealthy off these tests. “For the love of money…”

  11. You’re so right, Jenn – and do you know what is coming down the pike? More tests, more elimination for other babies who have other diseases, illnesses or imperfections.

    So very,very sad. 😦 I know that it makes God sad, too, that we reject these lovely gifts of his.

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