The U.N. officially observed World Down Syndrome Day for the first time on Wednesday – the seventh anniversary of the day designated to promote awareness and understanding, and seek international support for people with Down syndrome.
The annual observance takes place on the 21st of March each year because the date (21/3) represents the 3 copies of chromosome 21, which is unique to people with Down syndrome. Those with the genetic condition have some degree of learning disability, but many will go on to lead full and semi-independent lives. There is an estimated 7 million people who have Down syndrome worldwide.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute says that "upwards of 90 percent of Down syndrome children diagnosed prenatally never see the light of day; and their parents never see the special light of their children's lives."
There is an alarming rate of babies aborted after the parents find out through prenatal testing that the child will have a genetic disorder.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has attacked President Barack Obama's health care plan that includes free prenatal screenings, saying that it encourages abortions and will seriously decrease the ranks of the disabled in our society.
Prenatal screenings have also caused a rise in "wrongful birth" suits. A Portland couple was recently awarded $2.9 million because they say they would have aborted their little girl had they known she had Down syndrome and now needed money to pay for the costs of raising her.
Deborah and Ariel Levy told an Oregon court that prenatal testing revealed that their daughter did not have Down syndrome, and they were aware of her condition only after she was born.
The lawsuit has caused a heated debate about "wrongful birth" suits and "selective abortion" when circumstances may not be "perfect."
And some believe that wrongful birth lawsuits may become more common as technology advances, and as more women in their late 30s or 40s give birth. These expectant mothers will all come to rely on genetic screenings –none of which are 100 percent accurate.
Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, told The Christian Post in a previous interview that it's likely we will see more of these types of cases. He said this confusion over the ethics of life stems largely from abortion policies and the devaluing of human life.
He told CP that doctors are now going to have to start defending themselves over test results. "I think they (doctors) will make the argument that parents can choose to abort [their child] after it's born." He said this will happen because they want to protect themselves from medical malpractice.
Colin Hanna, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors' Network, said in a released statement that the fact that the Oregon couple was awarded nearly $3 million "for stating that they would have aborted their baby 'had they only known' is a gut-wrenching statement about how far we have veered away from the premise of sanctity of human life in America. We encourage all Americans on World Down Syndrome Day to consider all of their own 'imperfections' and whether they were worth having their own chance at life cut short."