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(LifeSiteNews) — It’s increasingly rare for babies with Down syndrome to be born in the Scandinavian nation of Denmark – not because the Danes have found a cure for the disability but because of widespread selective abortions to end the lives of disabled babies in utero.

In 2004, Denmark began offering early pregnancy screening to all pregnant women rather than just mothers with higher-risk pregnancies. 

“Nearly all expecting mothers choose to take the test; of those who get a Down syndrome diagnosis, more than 95 percent choose to abort,” Sarah Zhan wrote in a December 2020 piece for the Atlantic, National Right to Life News highlighted in a piece about the issue last week.

By 2007, a study found that the number of children born with Down syndrome in Denmark had been cut in half over the previous three years.

The incidence of Down syndrome births has declined significantly since then, with an average of just 33 Down syndrome babies born each year since the expanded pre-screening program launched. 

In 2016, just 24 babies were born with the condition, and in 2019 that number fell to 18.

Per National Right to Life News editor Dave Andrusko, “[t]he few babies born with Down syndrome are typically because of a ‘misdiagnosis’ or because the parents are told the odds of having a baby with an extra chromosome were almost infinitesimally small.” 

And misdiagnosis can go the other way as well – research shows that 50 percent or more fetal diagnoses may be inaccurate, leading to deeply tragic situations in which families are advised to abort children for disabilities they do not even possess.

READ: Doctors encouraged her to ‘look at abortion.’ Now she’s the mother of a healthy 11-month-old

Responding to outcry over the high rate of Down syndrome abortions in the nation, Danish officials have pushed back on claims that they have a national policy of eradicating developmental disabilities, but critics have argued that the statistics “speak for themselves.”

Referencing 2017 numbers, the Iona Institute argued that the data “are utterly damning and the members of the Committee on the Eighth Amendment should be aware of them and not fixate on whether the elimination of babies with fetal abnormalities is official Danish policy or not.”

The phenomenon of widespread abortion for babies diagnosed with disabilities is sadly not isolated to Denmark or even a country like Iceland, where an estimated 100 percent of Down syndrome babies are killed in utero. 

Pregnant moms around the world are often encouraged to abort babies based upon diagnosis of Down syndrome or other disabilities. In the U.S., an estimated 60-90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are killed in the womb, and the practice is common around the world in countries ranging from Norway to Spain. That’s in spite of the fact that people with the disability overwhelmingly describe themselves as happy, and medical advancements have led to striking increases in the life expectancy of people with the condition, LifeSiteNews has reported.

Meanwhile, even though many mothers of children diagnosed with Down syndrome opt to end their lives after widely accepted medical advice, people with Down syndrome are breaking down barriers and shattering expectations.

Just this month, 45-year-old Mar Galcerán, a woman with Down syndrome, was elected to legislative office on a conservative ticket in Spain.

The victory made Galcerán the first person with the diagnosis to serve in parliament in all of Europe. 

READ: Spanish woman becomes first parliamentarian with Down syndrome in Europe

Pro-life advocates and families with Down syndrome babies are actively fighting to defend the lives of people with the condition, pointing out that their lives are just as valuable as the lives of anyone else.

Writing about the adoption of a little boy with Down syndrome from Serbia, American Catholic husband and father Matt Effhauser said that “[p]arents are led to believe that ‘hard’ equates to ‘bad,’ and these lies prevent beautiful daughters, sons, siblings, and friends from entering the world.”

“Their joy, humor, lovingness, energetic spirit, and dignity as human beings are what define them, not a label,” the Catholic father said. “They, like every other child, deserve boundless love.”