Children with Down syndrome are born into a world in which their worth goes unnoticed at best, a world in which the majority of people continue to believe a person with Down syndrome is not worthy of life. This is tragic. There’s one more thing I wince at, but it’s not exactly easy to talk about.
I also wince when many in the Christian community consider the high termination rate of babies with Down syndrome an anti-abortion issue. I believe terminating a pregnancy based on a positive Down syndrome diagnosis is a modern-day form of eugenics, but when those who are pro-life put all their energy and focus on the anti-abortion portion of a pro-life worldview, they are only seeing a sliver of what it means to be pro-life. As Christians, we’re also missing an opportunity to make changes that can save the lives of the unborn.
When talking with people about the high termination rate for babies with Down syndrome, they often say something along the lines of, “I knew a woman who got a positive diagnosis and considered an abortion. Thank God, the baby didn’t end up even having Down syndrome. But can you imagine? She almost terminated a perfectly healthy child!”
Did you catch how anti-life that way of thinking is? Do you see how harmful it is when we say things such as, “Thank God, the baby didn’t have Down syndrome?” Or, “We prayed the diagnosis was wrong, and God heard our prayer and healed our child of Down syndrome! Praise Him!”
Do you see how those phrases are drenched in the stink of believing a certain kind of baby is better than another? Which then implies a certain kind of person is better than another?
If we’re going to stand for life, do we get to decide what kind of life we stand for? No. If we stand for life, we stand for life. And if we say we are pro-life, then we better be pro–Down syndrome and pro–black lives, pro-autism, pro-immigrant and pro-person-with-a-different-ability. And if we say we support any of these lives, then we better be making sure all these kinds of people have accommodating, welcoming places in this world where their backgrounds, talents, abilities and needs will be embraced in full.
Pro-life is about so much more than being anti-abortion. It’s about promoting and supporting and celebrating the worth of all lives, especially the lives of those whose worth continues to be questioned.