Statistics show that in recent years Iceland has completely minimised the number of babies born with Down syndrome. The curious results have peaked the media’s interest, and, in a recent report, CBS journalists have drawn everyone’s attention to the country by pointing out that, on average, only 2 Icelandic children are born with the disorder each year.
These statistics are the result of widespread use of the Combination Test that with the help of ultrasound, blood test, and the mother’s age helps the doctors find out whether the fetus has any chromosomal abnormalities that might cause the Down syndrome. The doctors in Iceland are required to suggest a screening to all the expectant mothers, with 4 out of 5 opting for the test and nearly 100% terminating their pregnancies when the results show a high risk of the disorder.
And while the numbers might suggest that the choice is forced upon the mothers, just like in other countries, they are free to make their own decision on whether to go ahead with the abortion or not. The women are provided with counseling they need in order to make an informed choice and feel secure in what they’ve decided.
The report has sparked an online conversation about this ethical dilemma. The opinions seem to divide people into two groups – one, who consider this to be a cruel ‘social cleansing’, unfair to the unborn child, and another, who support women in their right to choose whatever they want. “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,” pondered Icelandic geneticist Kari Stefansson in his interview about the matter.
Whether you are on one side or another we invite you to scroll down to read more about the matter.
Down syndrome is disappearing in Iceland, with only 2 affected children being born each year on average
Unlike the estimated 67% of US women who terminate their pregnancies upon diagnosis of the disorder, nearly 100% of Icelandic women do so
“My understanding is that we have basically eradicated, almost, Down syndrome from our society,” says geneticist Kari Stefansson
These statistics come straight from the National University Hospital of Iceland, where 70% of Icelandic children are born
Despite Internet accusations that these abortions are forced, each one is completely by choice, as mothers do receive neutral counseling
Watch this CBS News video for more information:
In response, people have been sharing stories of their own loved ones living with Down syndrome
Some have even expressly condemned the Icelandic phenomenon, dubbing it ‘eugenics’
Others, however, were able to see through the eyes of an expectant mother faced with an impossible decision