Down’s Syndrome Eliminated!

The headline was surprising, claiming that Downs’ Syndrome had almost been eliminated in Iceland. A medical advance? No. As I read on I discovered that with improved screening of children in the womb it is now possible to identify Downs’ Syndrome babies and a
termination offered. That’s what elimination meant: babies being eliminated.

I remembered the 1970’s. An important member of one of our political parties suggested that children should not be recognised as legally alive until three days after birth. During that time the medical profession would decide with full knowledge which babies should live and which should die.

The spokesman suggested that: (1) The child is the same inside or outside the womb so there was no real difference between an abortion and a three-day waiting period; (2) giving birth is safer for the woman than having an abortion.

All the Christian clergy in Newport in South Wales were invited to a talk by a professor of moral theology at Oxford University and the three-day suggestion came up for discussion. I listened with surprise at some of the statements made and it was clear that not all were opposed to abortion, stressing compassion for the woman (with which everyone agreed) but failing to answer questions about compassion for the child who would have to die. Many of you will have been in such discussions

Many of you will have been in such discussions with others or simply with yourself. There are three people involved, the mother, father and child. Would you be capable of speaking sensibly in a public discussion? On what grounds would you base your arguments?

In Northern Ireland the most outspoken supporters of the right to life of the baby in the womb are the DUP. Ian Paisley Jnr recently made it clear that there is no compromise on that issue on the DUP’s supporting the Conservative Party in Government.

There are political, moral and religious issues here. Prayerfully we ask God’s guidance, recognising that all life comes from God, that we must find words to express our faith in any issue – life in the womb, euthanasia, use of nuclear weapons, Trident, care for the earth, poverty, hunger, disease. So many good people directly involved in these issues around the world. We owe them our thinking and our prayer.

God bless us,

Fr John
(3rd September 2017)