Earlier this month during Down Syndrome Awareness Week, the Canadian Down Syndrome Society set off a media firestorm with an ad claiming people with Down syndrome are an “endangered species.” The Society says the ad is more than satire, and has actually sent an application to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature asking to be placed on the endangered species list. They claim people with Down Syndrome meet all of the Union’s criteria to be declared endangered. The campaign is entitled, “Endangered Syndrome” and a website where you can go to find out more is up at endangeredsyndrome.com.
To be clear, the CDSS did not intend to open up a debate about abortion with this campaign. In fact, the Society takes an absolute neutral stand on the issue. They do, however, seem to discourage it somewhat stating, “we advocate that the primary goal of prenatal genetic testing should not be to reduce the birth prevalence of Down syndrome in the population but rather to provide opportunities to improve prenatal and delivery care for the mother and baby.” The CDSS policy position also states, “the decision regarding the progression of a pregnancy must clearly remain with the family. It is the woman’s absolute right to continue the pregnancy.”
So, Instead of opposing the killing of Down syndrome babies in the womb with abortion, which Manager of Marketing and Communications Kristen Halpen acknowledged during a November 7th phone interview is the number one reason the population is in drastic decline (Halpen has since claimed her position on the matter has been misrepresented here, stating in a November 20th email that, "the CDSS does not have any statistics to speak to abortion rates in Canada."), the group instead seeks to bring attention to the lack of resources for people living with Down syndrome, a most admirable effort. While the campaign is getting attention, it hasn’t always been the kind of attention the CDSS wanted.
For example, popular radio personality Evan Solomon featured the campaign on his iheart radio show on November 6th. Solomon’s main concern was that the ad “compares people with Down syndrome to animals.” To be clear, the comparison of any group of human beings to animals is offensive, and something pro-lifers have always opposed. Calling the unborn “parasites,” “tadpoles,” and the like is a dehumanization tactic commonly employed by abortion advocates to justify killing them.
I admit I was a bit offended by the comparison the first time I saw the ad too, but I recognized the satire and the infinitely more offensive practice of seeking out and destroying Down syndrome babies with abortion. Moreover, they aren’t comparing themselves to animals per se, they are making the perfectly legitimate claim that if endangered animals deserve support and help, they certainly do too.
So, if the campaign is getting people like Evan Solomon to talk about the issue, I say so be it. The extermination of people with Down syndrome with abortion is nothing less than horrific eugenics (even if the CDSS can’t see that), and if Solomon and others are upset about the comparison of Down syndrome people to animals, they should be 1,000 times more upset about the treatment of them before birth as less than fully human.