Handicapped children cost money, so parents: abort or face a fine
‘We haven’t come this close to Nazi before.’ With this tweet Dr. Stefan Paas slammed a letter published by a Dutch National newspaper. The letter stated that the freedom to birth disabled children should be limited by the ‘financial burden’ to society. Declining to abort, argues letter-writer Michael van der Lubbe, despite the availability of prenatal technology like Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), should have financial consequences for parents. His letter followed a stream of articles in the media with suggestive titles as ‘Better of without Down’.
NIPT can potentially analyze the entire genome of the unborn child, but countries are increasingly opting for a ‘targeted approach.’ This means that commercial companies, health authorities and policymakers are targeting specific genetic conditions while prohibiting the prenatal selection of other groups. The Netherlands has singled out Down syndrome as the primary target of it’s national screening program. It is the first country in the world that offers NIPT, unsolicited, to all pregnant women.
The source of defamation leads to the Dutch Ministry of Health
It’s easy to see where the letter-writer got his ideas from. Several national newspapers have published top 10 lists of “most expensive diseases and conditions.” These lists mention Down syndrome at the top. A popular TV series aptly named ‘The Last Downer’ also showed a calculation of the yearly “costs” of a person with Down syndrome to society. The source of this defamation is the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).
A quick Google search shows the truth: Down syndrome makse up only a small percentage (8 percent) of the group with “intellectual challenges.” Yearly, more than twice the number of children are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS is a cause of intellectual disability, among other problems, caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. A poll among families with Down syndrome revealed that 100 percent never had a discussion with their health care provider about FAS or it’s prevention.
Cancer, the number one cause of death in the Netherlands, is missing completely from the list. Striking because according to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), cancer costs the world more money than any other disease.
This list is utter rubbish, but unfortunately, coming from a ‘trustworthy’ source, the information sticks with the public.
Down syndrome has been made into the scapegoat of rising health care costs. By repeating this in the media “volunteers” will come forward, willing to write their “findings” in the paper.
Ethicists and policymakers have been saying for years selective abortion is our moral obligation.
Medical ethicists and politicians used to write these ideas themselves, but that wasn’t always well received. M.T. Hilhorst, professor of medical ethics at the Erasmus University, writes about parents who don’t want prenatal diagnosis: “they have pushed the disability upon their children by not ‘acting’ (...) morally they can be asked to be held amenable for their choice.”
Hilhorst is one of the ethicists who sharpen their position in the book ‘Child, illness and ethics’. The book was written by famous Dutch Senator Heleen Dupuis, who monitored the Dutch Minister of Health. In the book she describes life with a serious handicap as a “desperate survival on very low level, without communication possibilities.” It is therefore, “life is not worthy of living.”
“Ich bin ein Down-jihadi”
More recently, Marcel Zuijderland, philosopher, writes that women have an “Ethical duty to abort when the fetus is seriously disabled.” He believes Down syndrome is a serious disability that warrants this action. It is ironic that a man wants to force women to a medical procedure where her unborn child is killed under the pretense of “freedom of choice.” In his latest interview ― and this is serious folks! ― he blames parents who defend and celebrate the life of their children of ‘Down-jihadism.’
New ideas are made of old ideas
The ideas in the letter are hardly new. What is new, is the strategy: People believe they have figured out what’s causing the rise in care costs, as well as the solution, while they are directed with misleading statistics provided by well-respected state institutions, professionals and politicians. The so-called “free choice” has become a farce: women who are brave enough to resist screening and/or continue pregnancy face the scorn of society, and so do their children.
Dutch society stooped to a new low. The letter published by NRC is not an opinion; it spreads hate. While everyone is free to judge a life with a disability, we live in a world where governments have to protect the human rights of all. By singling out people with Down syndrome as a primary cause of health care costs, the government is acting as the instigator instead of the protector.
Tell the world the real worth of people with Down syndrome!
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