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Aborting Down Syndrome Babies

Cari Jean resides in North Dakota, where she works as a freelance writer and blogs at Faith's Mom's Blog.

Photo used with permission.

Photo used with permission.

90% of all babies with Down Syndrome are aborted.

When asked the question, "Would you abort a baby with down syndrome?" Some people posted the following comments on various websites:

"While some people are prepared to take on babies with learning difficulties, not many are -- and I wouldn't condemn a child to a life drifting through the care system."

"In my opinion I think it is cruel to force a living being to live a life destined for pain and loneliness. We shoot horses to put them out of their misery and yet we still cant find it in our heart to relieve or prevent human suffering "

"I would AND would prefer to be myself aborted rather than live with a condition like that."

"I would not have a down syndrome child or one with a disability if I could prevent it I would. I would terminate the pregnancy and try again in the future for another one. I think it is great that we are able to screen for these defects now early and can prevent DS and other Disabilities. Like polio, ds will be a thing of the pass."

"I think that it would be the best thing to do for the child and parent in the long-run, though, it would still be very hard."

What is Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. Usually Down syndrome comes with impaired cognitive ability and physical growth. The disorder can also include a higher risk for congenital heart defects, gastroesophageal reflux disease, ear infections, obstructive sleep apnea and thyroid dysfunctions.

Testing for Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome can be detected in the womb through genetic testing. It used to be that this testing was done on women 35 years and older.

Recently, the the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have recommended that all pregnant women, regardless of age have their fetus tested for the extra chromosome that causes Down Syndrome.

Amniocentesis is a test performed between weeks 16 and 18 week of a woman's pregnancy. The doctor inserts a hollow needle into the woman's abdomen to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid from around the developing fetus. This fluid can be tested to check for genetic problems. Amniocentesis carries a slight risk of inducing a miscarriage.

Chorionic villus sampling is usually performed between the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. The doctor removes a small piece of the placenta to check for genetic problems in the fetus. This test carries the risk of inducing a miscarriage.

Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS) is performed after the 18th week of pregnancy. Blood is taken from a vein in the umbilical cord and examined for chromosomal defects. This test carries a greater risk of miscarriage than does amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.

Ultrasound is a test done during pregnancy which uses sound waves to generate a picture or image of the fetus. Symptoms that can be seen via ultrasound include: a decrease in femur length, an increase in the skin behind the neck, cysts in a section of the brain that produces spinal fluid, heart defects and intestinal blockages.

Blood tests can be done along with an ultrasound to measure the levels of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) and a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Abnormal levels of PAPP-A and HCG may indicate a problem with the baby.

Sarah Palin and her family became heroes in the pro-life community when Sarah DID NOT abort their baby, Trig, diagnosed with Down Syndrome before he was born.

Sarah Palin and her family became heroes in the pro-life community when Sarah DID NOT abort their baby, Trig, diagnosed with Down Syndrome before he was born.

Not always the case.

Not always the case.


1"Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus", The New York Times, May 9, 2007 by Amy Harmon

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2"Down Syndrome Support Groups Rise to Counter Physicians’ Poor Diagnostic Practices" October 16, 2008 by Penny Starr

3"Mothers: Doctors Too Negative When Diagnosing Down Syndrome" October 13, 2005

The Medical Community's Negative Spin

There are a few problems associated with testing for down syndrome. One is that the tests can be inaccurate. With the ultrasound and blood tests, one in 20 women will have a positive result - far more than those who eventually deliver a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. Most women who have a positive result from a screening test deliver healthy babies. With Amniocentesis, CVS and PUBS, the results are between 98 and 99 percent accurate.

The other problem with this testing is that when it is found that a baby could have down syndrome, doctors often portray a gloom and doom scenario to the parents. When parents are told their baby has Down syndrome, it is often put in such a negative way by medical professionals, that the final result of the process is a Down syndrome abortion. If medical professionals and health care workers had a more positive attitude to Down syndrome pregnancies, then the Down syndrome abortion rate would drop substantially.1

Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 women who had a Down syndrome child, 12.5 percent of which were mothers who had received a pre-natal diagnosis. Those 141 women reported “incomplete, inaccurate or offensive” information about Down syndrome at the time of diagnosis. They also said they weren’t connected to resources that could help them understand their child’s condition.2

In another survey, mothers of children with Down syndrome reported physicians were overwhelmingly negative when diagnosing fetuses and newborns with Down syndrome, often advising the mother to discontinue the pregnancy or to put the child up for adoption. The findings of the survey fueled a complicated debate over termination of fetuses diagnosed with a disability, with abortion opponents citing the survey as proof doctors can influence a woman's decision to keep her baby or not. 3

Members of the group KIDS - Keeping Infants with Down Syndrome - at the 2010 Right to Life March in Washington D.C.

Members of the group KIDS - Keeping Infants with Down Syndrome - at the 2010 Right to Life March in Washington D.C.

Fighting Back

In May 2008, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, announced the formation of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. Its mission is to educate members of Congress and their staff about Down syndrome; support legislative activities that would improve Down syndrome research, education and treatment; and promote public policies that would enhance the quality of life for those with Down syndrome.

In the fall of 2008, a bill called the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

This Act aims to promote programs to give new or expectant parents the latest information about Down syndrome or other disabilities and to give them referrals to support services. The law also authorizes the government to help create a national registry to connect birth parents with people who want to adopt a child with Down syndrome.

There are also groups being formed, such as KIDS - Keep Infants with Down Syndrome, whose objective is to challenge the misinformation that often leads a mother to abort her child diagnosed to have Down Syndrome. KIDS was founded by Eileen Haupt and Leticia Velasquez, who both have daughters with Down syndrome. As Haupt said, "The one thing that prenatal testing cannot tell you is the unspeakable joy that your child with Down syndrome will give you."


Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on March 25, 2018:

Jason, thanks for your comment, although I do disagree with it. A baby in the womb is a human being in its earliest stages of life. Therefore, abortion is murder. There is no other way of looking at it.

Jason on March 22, 2018:

People have the right to get an abortion. Whether its for Down Syndrome or not. Once again freedom of religion is being disrespected and not everyone is pro life. Those of us who are shouldn't meddle with others. Nobody has no right to deny anybody's abortion rights.

RTalloni on December 17, 2015:

Thank you for addressing this difficult topic and opening an important discussion. There are many facets to it, but the societal ramifications of aborting should be enough for anyone. Ignorance is part of the problem, and thankfully, there are many who are trying to educate the public, including some great doctors.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on December 17, 2015:

mrsmjw - thank you so much for your insightful comments. Just the other day I saw something online that rang so true - that Abortion doesn't empower women, instead it does quite the contrary. It gives the illusion they are not strong enough to handle having a child under difficult circumstances. It is an easy way out and there is nothing empowering about that. People are mortified that ISIS is targeting children with DS and other disabilities. I'm not understanding why. In a society that thinks it's okay to abort a baby w/ a disability why should ISIS doing it make it any worse than a woman killing her own child?

mrsmjw on August 25, 2015:

The "choice" some speak of as their right to murder their unwanted child is not a legitimate, unbiased, indiscriminate choice. It is yet another example of genocide inflicted on a weaker individual(s). Otherwise the choice would be defended for all parties involved including the unwanted child. We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men (women) are created equal...

mrsmjw on August 25, 2015:

To those who say they have\would abort(ed) because they wouldn't want their child to be a burden on society.

Should people over 20? 30? 40? 50? be exterminated because science proves their health will be declining so that the older\elderly won't be a burden on society? After all, obstetric medical science considers YOU elderly over the age of 30.

A logic is not a logic unless you can apply it all around.

mrsmjw on August 25, 2015:

For those who said they would murder a baby with a disability in utero but not murder an older child with a disability let me say that this very much follows Hitler's reason for creating gas chambers and cremation houses. The SS were daily murdering people point blank by shooting them, etc. Hitler became concerned for his people that this obvious murdering and such close proximity to committing these terrible atrocities would turn them into "monsters" by desensitizing them and demoralizing them. Thus, the concept of committing the same murders in relative secrecy was concocted. Think about it.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on June 19, 2015:

Ross, thank you for your heartfelt comment and for sharing part of your story.

Although I have never had to make the same kind of decision that you did, it was suggested by a doctor to abort my baby due to it being a high risk pregnancy for me. I didn't. My baby was born 11 weeks early and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result. She is 11 years old and although there are many challenging days, she is a blessing to us and everyone who knows her. Of course we have some of the struggles you mention, like who will care for her after we're gone, and how hard it is for her to struggle with some of her medical issues.

But for me and many others, these types of decisions are based on a Biblical worldview and that we can either choose life or choose death. Also as a Christian, I know I can trust God to look after her no matter what and that I can also look to Him to heal her. For those who do not hold this type of worldview, I can see how these types of decisions can be much more difficult to make.

My heart goes out to you and I can only pray that the Lord would cause something good to come from the regrets you have in needing to make this kind of decision.

Ross on June 10, 2015:

Raising a DS child is a lifelong commitment... I know... people will say... raising any child is a lifelong commitment... but that's comparing apple to oranges... as most children do not need 24/7 care the rest of their life.

Others will make the argument it's a selfish decision to abort a child with DS. I am sure in some cases that is true, but it is not universal as some will claim. Some do not have the financial resources, others are older and fear for their child after their death while other's do not wish for their child to suffer through medical issues.... Again, you could argue... we'll these are concerns of all parents... but with DS... those concerns are extrapolated exponentially.

DS is a spectrum disorder... the avg IQ is 50 (equivalent to a 9 year old)... with the spectrum stretching from 20-70.... now i have never valued a person's worth based on their IQ so I will not try to refute the argument that peoples worth should not be based on their IQ... however, raising a child with an IQ of 50... is completely different than raising a 40 year old with a 50 IQ... I have worked with people with DS... and have seen the entire spectrum... from one child who ate out of a straw and could not walk... to children who could function in society...

Now... my favorite... we hear about how cute and loving DS children are... I never understood this this to say that other children are not cute and loving... or is there some universal bias where people believe DS children are not loving or cute... if so I guess i'm in the dark as i have not heard that one.

Finally, people claim that all Drs are pushing Amnio and abortion... This is not universally true... why I don't doubt there are some out there who have agendas (both ways)... I can attest as I have been through this process. We had a NIPS test which confirmed DS with 99.4% accuracy and re-affirmed the NIPS test with an Amnio. We subsequently aborted at 15 weeks. Do I have regrets on my decision... NO... do I regret having to make the decision... every day...

We all must make our own choices in the world... and we must live with them... some will argue it was a gift for good... to them... i say i wish you and your child a happy life... to those who have made the choice my wife and I made... i say... you are not alone...

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on August 26, 2014:

Fifthmoon - thank you so much for sharing part of your nephew's story. So sad that his parents had to go through what they did, especially for his Dad's attitude toward him. Praise God that he found a loving family!!

Fifthmoon from Here~There~No Where on August 25, 2014:

The doctor told my nephew's parents there was no hope for him and that they should put him in an institution and not take him home. They took him home Mom loved him and wanted to keep him, but Dad couldn't stand to look at him or show him to other people. They finally gave him up and that's how he ended up being my nephew. He has been nothing but a joy to our family. Great hub.

Jyoti Kothari from Jaipur on July 24, 2014:

You are doing a great job and I am with you in this noble cause. Thanks rated u and useful.

apad6869 on June 25, 2014:

I had t with brother with downs Ican describe it in ONE WORD TORTURE. It ruined my life and my familes' my parents hovered around him spoiled him did not ever discipline himand abused me he had an unfriendly attitude would not learn could not dial atelephone stayed in the toilet half the day would not speak to anyone was demanding Downs syndrome completely bruined my life my marriage and without them noing it my parents life and their marriagedo not try and impose this plague on families these children should be put up for adoptian placed in a institutian or not be broght in to this world unless these childre are disciplined they can destroy the people around the he consumed almost all of my parents time I am against abortion but Downes gives me reason to reevaluate my thinking

Yves on May 17, 2014:

90%? I had no idea. How horrible. I have to say, this is a very well written piece. I hope more people will research this matter properly before making any rash decisions. I am glad the some progress is being made in the way of enacting laws to prevent killing down syndrome children unnecessarily.

Voting up.

William A. Howard IV from Baltimore Maryland (USA) on May 16, 2014:

Anyone who has ever been around these children would be aware that their love is unconditional. Could our Lord have sent them to Earth for us to see what angels are really like?

Willowbel on May 12, 2014:

When my husband and I were trying for our first baby we discussed the possibilities of what would happen if we received some sort of bad news. We both came to the conclusion that we could not go thru with watching our child struggle thru life we felt it wouldn't be fair on them or us. As a parent all you want is for your child to have a normal life. Thankfully our first born had nothing wrong she was born healthy and a healthy relationship formed for us as well. Sadly for a close friend of ours who just so happened to be a very strict catholic who was heavily into her church was expecting sadly her baby's results came back negative her child had a two holes in her heart and slight brain abnormalities. Of course she would never abort so she had the baby with a huge uphill road ahead. 7 years on that same woman suffered pnd and her bond with her daughter is severely frayed. Her daughter has the higher end of autism she does not communicate very well and is very hard to handle as she is frequently violent . She has no social skills and sadly may never due to spher severity she will live stuck in a body and brain that will never function properly. My friend sadly turned to me during her pregnancy at one point and openly admitted she actually understood why woman abort their children and she would never judge another woman on that decision. Now her relationship with her daughter has become a sad one. No mother should ever be made to feel forced into brining a life into the world if they Honestly feel it's not right. If my friend wasn't made to feel guilty about abortion her daughter would have been given the choice not to live with her bad heart and extreme autism. Is this really a happy life for mother and child

jorge alberto nuñez cuevas on March 20, 2014:

I will not say the same thing that everybody does, disabilities should be prevented and treated as well as tolerated, for the sake of the families in the first place

john smith on January 18, 2014:

Life should be preserved ideally, but dont bring God / beliefs into the equation. A belief is only a belief & i wish people spoke intelligently without talking about God / some imaginary person.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on November 15, 2013:

patty b - I so agree with your comment! People would get totally riled up if a mom wanted to kill her 1-month old because a heart defect was just detected or their 3-year old diagnosed w/ autism - how is it an different when the child is in your womb - a place that should be of the utmost protection!

patty b. on November 13, 2013:

I fear that soon, science will be able to detect all kinds of "undesirable babies." Babies with the wrong colored eyes, babies that will be short adults, babies that are not above average intelligence, babies with autism, etc. People can terminate unborn babies for any reason and try again for their "perfect baby". Everything is truly becoming dispensable and easily replaced. When will people start killing off people that become undesirable because of an accident, etc. Why should their families have to take care of such burdens? They would hate to have to worry about what home they would be placed in. They do not have the time or money to take care of them. Maybe, They should be eliminated or sterilized for producing substandard products.

Personally, I would not have my dog killed if I could no longer take care of her. Why would I consider terminating someone that is a part of me. "MY CHILD"

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on June 04, 2013:

Jess - I am in AWE over your comment. I am so glad you made the decision to switch doctors! You are so right in that so many people get a wrong diagnosis and then they go and abort their baby based on that "fact." Sadly, there are people who think that living a life with an impairment is somehow worse than living no life at all. Some parents actually say it is their "parental responsibility" to abort their baby in the womb with known defects. How sick is that?

Recently the state I live became the first state to make it illegal to abort a baby based on a defect or abnormality because it would be considered discrimination. I truly hope and pray that other states will follow our lead! Blessings to you and your family!

Jess on June 03, 2013:

On my first post I meant having a shorter life or "impaired" life is still living and better then NO life at all

Jess on June 02, 2013:

I also have a comment regarding bre's post if you already have such strong feeling about not being a parent forever maybe don't be one at all! I'm pretty sure there's not an exact year when the child goes away and never needs support, nurture, love, or guidance ever again.. A child like mind forever doesn't sound to bad to me! (Adult children can cause grief too)

Jess on June 02, 2013:

Hi Cari Jean, it's Jess from 12 months ago. I can report my baby girl, Daisy, is healthy and beautiful! Like a little angel flower. I switched doc. shortly after reading your page because the office was rude and really pushing for amniocentesis. They wanted to confirm the Ds diagnosis even though we didn't care either way. There is chance of miscarrige so why do that? The new doc did go on to induce premature labor because there was problems with the pregnancy but due to placenta issues. She spent five weeks in the nicu to grow strong but no problems at all she's totally right on develop mentally.. To think of how many people get a wrong diagnosis!

I know in my heart like I said before ..she was mine before she arrived and to think of loving her less for any reason is unimaginable.

I also want to say for the people who want to "play god" so to speak ( like hitler) what makes u think that a short life or different life is better then NO life... There is suffering sometime in most lives .. Maybe none of us should be here...?

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on May 05, 2013:

martinez65 - yes, maybe you are right. Maybe society would be better if no one respected life. Murder should be completely legal because then we could get rid of even more humans. It should be okay for mothers to kill their children if they are born with some sort of deformity - and anyone alive today who has subpar intelligence should be done away with. Sounds a little like Hitler to me.

martinez65 from Washington on April 29, 2013:

There's nothing wrong with aborting a defective fetus. We don't need more humans and we certainly don't need more humans with subpar intelligence.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on April 14, 2013:

Why wouldn't adoption also be a choice? Why does the choice instantly go to aborting the child why not give the child a shot at life by giving them to someone who does have the patience?