Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eradicating Love in Iceland

Iceland is a cold place. And I’m not talking about the climate. It is government policy to encourage the eradication of the happiest, most loving people on earth from their population. 

Despite the fact that 99% of people with Down syndrome say they are happy, the government of Iceland is on a quest to exterminate these babies in the womb. A recent CBS News report: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing, found that Iceland’s population of around 330,000, averages just one or two children born with Down syndrome a year. 
In the U.S., according to the National Down Syndrome Society, about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born each year. However, the United States also has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995-2011); in France it's 77 percent (2015); and Denmark, 98 percent (2015). Abortion is legal in Iceland after 16 weeks if the fetus has a deformity, which Down syndrome is included.
Despite the high abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome, hundreds of families in the US are on waiting lists to adopt them. 

Screening Out Babies
The Icelandic government requires that all expectant mothers must be informed about prenatal screening, which tests for Down syndrome. It is a search and destroy mission but some get missed. Hulda Hjartardottir, head of the Prenatal Diagnosis Unit at Landspitali University Hospital where around 70 percent of Icelandic children are born, told CBS that some of the mothers at low risk for Downs babies did not get screened.
The hospital’s counselor, Helga Sol Olafsdottir, advises women with a pregnancy showing chromosomal abnormality: "This is your life — you have the right to choose how your life will look like."  Later in the video, she warns that while children with Down syndrome make look cute when they are little, they are not so cute at 18.
In the video, Iceland After Assignment, hospital personnel are so blind to the evil of abortion that a priest (surely not a Catholic one) can come around to help parents grieve after an abortion. Prayer cards with tiny baby footprints are meant to console parents who abort their babies for failing to make the grade.
The first female head bishop of the Church of Iceland, (an evangelical Lutheran denomination) claims to have compassion for women choosing abortion because she knows what it’s like to have a baby grow inside her.
“It is probably the hardest thing a person can do to decide whether or not to abort a fetus and without conscious or guilt for the decision,” she said.  She said that the anti-abortion people in Iceland are “a very small, very invisible group.” The reporter took note of how unusual it is for a leader of a religion to publically support abortion.
For the record, as of 2016, there are 12,414 Catholics in Iceland, which is 3.73 percent of the population. There are with 6 diocesan priests, 9 religious order priests, and 38 sisters in religious orders. The CBS report did not include a Catholic opinion for their story.

The Gift Iceland Doesn’t Want
A number of studies reveal that people with Down syndrome report happier lives than the rest of the population. Results from a study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found:
·             99 percent said they were happy with their lives
·             97 percent liked who they are
·             96 percent liked how they look
·             86 percent indicated they could make friends easily
·             4 percent expressed sadness about their life.

The Power of Love
Thordis Ingadottir, the mother of a 7-year old girl with Down syndrome is concerned about the government’s coercion, although she still supports abortion. Thordis had slipped through the cracks of prenatal testing, thinking the odds of her third child having the condition were low.
She fell in love with her daughter and now criticizes the government for giving incomplete information. Thordis also points out that there is a spectrum of problems that a child can have from alcoholism to a propensity to commit crimes, so it’s wrong to isolate Down syndrome as a reason to abort. 
Liz & Mike Gary Family
My own experience of knowing people with Down syndrome is that they are beautiful, loving individuals. Liz Gary who shared her story in Amazing Grace for Married Couples, credits the birth of her son with Down syndrome with saving her marriage.
In the story, “Fearing My Daughter,” excerpted from Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families, Tom Machala explained how his daughter Grace brought great love into his family
Mahala Family
 “Her little personality began to captivate us and all the boys [7 big brothers] fell deeply in love with their little sister,” he said. “I believe it is because through Grace, our hearts have grown. Her brothers constantly hug and kiss her and tell her they love her. The boys were gifted athletically, while Grace, who cannot even run or jump is gifted in love.”
But the Icelandic government wants to eradicate such love.  It truly is a cold place.  And growing colder.
For more inspiration check out Patti's latest bookHoly Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to HeavenOther books include:  Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the best-selling Amazing Grace Series.
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