Down's Syndrome people risk 'extinction' at the hands of science, fear and ignorance


Society doesn’t do enough to show women carrying a baby with Down’s that the life inside them is precious, intelligent and capable of so much

By Tim Stanley9:43AM GMT 18 Jan 2016

A painting hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York called The Adoration of the Christ Child. Created in the 16th century by a Flemish artist, what stands out in this sublime presentation of the Nativity is the detail of the characters standing around the crib. Two of them, an angel and a shepherd, appear to have Down’s Syndrome.

This suggests that the condition has been around for a very long time, and it helps illuminate the early modern approach to disability. Religious art normally conformed to classical standards of beauty. By implication, the artist regarded people with Down’s as angelic. As, indeed, they are.

The Adoration of the Christ Child, by a follower of Jan Joest of Kalkar (circa 1515) Photo: The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982

Unfortunately, society goes through peaks and troughs of sympathy towards the disabled – and we risk entering a darker age. The National Screening Committee has approved a simple blood test for Down’s Syndrome that in many ways is wonderful news. It should reduce the need for invasive testing procedures, which trigger around 350 cases of miscarriage every year.

But what do most women do when their baby tests positive for Down’s? They abort. Around 90 per cent of pregnancies that involve the condition end in a termination. In 2014, 693 abortions were carried out for this reason – a jump of 34 per cent since 2011. The rise is blamed on increased access to blood tests via private clinics. American campaigners warn of the risk of “extinction”. In Denmark, the head of a midwife association blandly told a newspaper: “When you can discover almost all the foetuses with Down Syndrome, then we are approaching a situation in which almost all of them will be aborted.”

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There are various groups of people that have to live with disabilities, that have developed a sense of shared community, and/or a group that speaks on their behalf. These include the deaf, some of whom argue that cochlear implants should not be provided to deaf children, as they are a distinctive community and that “deaf culture” has a right to exist; those on the Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome continuum, many of whom have argued that their cognitive state is not undesirable, but just a distinctive way of being human; and (although they would not claim their condition as a disability), those with a same-sex attraction, many of whom claim that their condition is inherent and probably genetic.

If it were to be suggested that a prenatal test for any of these conditions would allow parents to selectively abort them, the supposed “mother’s right to choose” would be swiftly attacked by the representatives of those groups, who feel that they have an inherent right as a community to exist.

Why do so few people speak out on behalf of those with Down’s Syndrome?


These beautiful souls must be protected in life - a baby can be born with difficulties - love and care cure all.

How many blood tests have provided Planned Parenthood with more salvage baby parts?

Mothers and fathers need to be protected from predators that play their sorrow and anxiety
profiting from evil.


While I absolutely agree that children with Down’s syndrome should NEVER be aborted, there is good reason for the test. In my community, there is one hospital and no midwives. The hospital is highly non-ideal for birthing any child with complications. The facility will life flight a child who has Down’s syndrome (or any other complicated circumstance at all) 250 miles to a hospital that can handle it immediately after birth. However, their insurance says they are not permitted to let the mother out of the birthing room (aside from basic bathroom visits) for 24 hours unless she is dying and must also be life-flighted. It is not a great place to have a child with complications. We get the blood tests to decide if we need to be somewhere else,not for abortions, since this hospital cannot perform abortions (along with a great many other procedures). Thus don’t knock the test, but we need to change the perception that Down’s syndrome is a condition to abort.


Are there any numbers to show how many “positive” tests for Down’s Syndrome proved to be false? Proved by a healthy nonafflicted birth.


Good question.My oldest daughter through triple screening,showed a strong possibility for my now 17 yr.old grandson,being affected by DS.This also happened to a good friend of one of my other daughters’. In both cases their babies were perfectly healthy.Had they listened to the dr.,they could have been aborted.False positives no doubt happen with great frequency.:frowning:


This is just my own opinion, but I’ve always thought that one of the reasons the left went after Sarah Palin with such vitriol was because she made the choice to have her son Trigg, and not abort because he had Down’s Syndrome. Saw it as a threat to their “sacred right” (as Nancy Pelosi called it) of abortion.


A quick Google found this article, suggesting that about 1 in 5 positive tests might be a false positive.

Stoll takes as her example a population of 100,000 35-year old women who have an incidence rate of 1-in-250 carrying a child with Down syndrome. Therefore, of the 100,000 35-year old moms, 400 will be pregnant with a child with Down syndrome (100,000 X 1/250 = 400).

NIPS labs report a sensitivity rate of 99.5%, meaning 99.5% of those actually carrying a child with Down syndrome will be detected by NIPS. Therefore, of the 400 35-year old moms, 398 will receive a “positive” NIPS result (400 X 99.5% = 398). Note as well that 2 will receive a “negative” NIPS report–a false negative, since they are carrying a child with Down syndrome.

NIPS labs also report a 99.9% specificity rate–the percentage of those pregnancies not carrying a child with Down syndrome that will receive a negative NIPS report. In Stoll’s example, there are 99,600 moms not carrying a child with Down syndrome (100,000 moms – the 400 carrying a child with Down syndrome = 99,600). Of those 99,600 moms, 99,500 will receive a negative report (99,600 X 99.9% = 99,500). This then means 100 will receive a “positive” NIPS result (99,600 – 99,500 = 100)–making these 100 false positives.

So, in this example, there were 400 pregnancies actually carrying a child with Down syndrome. Of these, 398 would receive a positive NIPS result, but 100 false positives would also be reported, making for a total of 498 positive NIPS reports when only 400 pregnancies were actually carrying a child with Down syndrome. This means that a positive NIPS report means the mother has a one-in-five chance of a having a false positive (100 false positives / 498 = 20%, or 1-in-5). And, this false positive rate goes up the lower the incidence rate.

Note the last sentence. Conversely the false positive rate will be lower if you target the testing on populations with a much higher incidence.


Dr. Taffy posted the numbers. I recall hearing a higher incidence of false positives, but can’t recall the source. That wasn’t for the blood test, though.


The extinction of Downs people has been going on for some time. My wife works with the developmentally disabled, and below a certain age, they just aren’t there anymore.


This absolutely breaks my heart. It is very true. I have had people explain to me that they only have a downs child because they didn’t know until delivery that it was downs or they would have aborted. It’s like they felt a need to apologize for even having a downs baby.

This reality hurts me so much. I was a very smart yet abused child - I bonded with downs children. When I was around them I felt like I was accepted and “belonged.”



One of my friends has a down syndrome baby. She never, ever, considered abortion. That’s not to say there was not a long period of mourning. She understood this meant her child would probably never marry, would never have children, would be developmentally stunted, and there was a chance she would have to take care of him his entire life. Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a strong, intelligent person. The knowledge that your child will be picked on, looked down on, and ostracized by others and will require much, much more care than other children is a heavy cross to bear.

It got easier with time, as the child just celebrated his fifth birthday and she is at peace and loves him just as much as her other children. The woman is simply a saint.


My experience with Downs is limited, but the experience I have had is positive. There was an innocence I felt should be protected, which is not meant to be condescending. Sorry if it comes across that way. I also have great admiration for the people who nurture them.


This would be sad, for all the people I’ve met who have DS, they show they greatest example of what it means to love.

My son has cerebral palsy, caused when he was born premature at 27 weeks.

He’s 34 now, but I remember when my wife went onto labor, people said “it would be better to just let the baby die.”

Thank God and the doctors who didn’t have that mentality.



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