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Because of Abortions, Down Syndrome in Iceland is Disappearing

Nearly 100 percent of Icelandic women whose fetus tests positive for having Down syndrome has an abortion, reports CBS News; in 2009, only three babies were born with the disorder.

Close to 85 percent of all women in the country undergo prenatal testing to see if their unborn child may have down syndrome, and of that number, almost all choose to have the baby aborted if the test comes back positive. Although these tests are not mandated, medical institutions are required by the government to mention them to expecting mothers. This has come under scrutiny, seeing as many believe that the simple suggestion of having the tests puts more pressure on the pregnant women to have them done.

The likelihood of a fetus testing positive for Down syndrome is based on a number of factors, such as the mother’s age, an ultrasound, and a blood test. While these methods are heavily relied upon to determine whether or not the pregnancy should be terminated, the outcome of such prenatal tests are only 85 percent accurate, leaving a high possibility for the baby to emerge perfectly healthy.

According to The National Down Syndrome Society, individuals with Down syndrome are expected to live to age 60, a number that is constantly getting higher thanks to medical advancements. Therapies and treatments available in developed countries are also making it easier and easier for Down syndrome patients to be integrated into society, and many go to school, have jobs, and live independently.

Should Down syndrome be eradicated? Should we follow in the footsteps of Iceland? Or should the possibility of a fetus having Down syndrome not play a role in whether or not a pregnancy is terminated? These are questions that we and the rest of the world may have to face in the future.

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