Down’s Syndrome Day 2017: Challenging perceptions

March 21 is World Down’s Syndrome Day, an opportunity to celebrate the lives of people with the condition and those who support them.

Around one in every thousand babies born will have Down’s syndrome, and there are 60,000 people with the condition in the UK.

Tragically, 90 per cent of Down’s babies in England and Wales are aborted when their parents find out about the diagnosis.


In an article on the Desiring God website John Knight, whose own son has serious disabilities, pointed to a “chasm” between the experience of living with the condition, and the public’s perception of it.

He cited 2011 figures from the American Journal of Medical Genetics, which interviewed over 3,000 people who either had, or were related to someone with the condition.

Among the people with Down’s syndrome, 99 per cent said they were happy with their lives, and 97 per cent answered yes to the question, “Do you like who you are?”

Despite this, parents often report being pushed to consider abortion if a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome is made.

In God’s image

Knight wrote, “there is a chasm between the experience of living with Down syndrome and the perception given to future parents about how awful life with Down syndrome must be. That perception results in horrible things”.

He added: “As Christians, we already have a reason to welcome people with Down syndrome into our lives and our churches: God made them (and everyone else) in his image, for his glory.

“Christ’s church can look at and respond to both the suffering and the joy in realistic and hopeful ways that make God look glorious and build up families experiencing disability of every kind.”

More abortions

Last year, the UK Government gave the go-ahead to Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) – which will be rolled out across the NHS in 2018.

NIPT is a blood test which accurately predicts whether or not an unborn child has a chromosomal condition and whether they are male or female.

The move has raised fears that more babies with disabilities, and Down’s syndrome in particular, will be aborted, and that sex-selective abortions could rise.

‘Science fiction’

Writing in the Daily Mail earlier this month, Ian Birrell, whose daughter is severely disabled, said:

“These disturbing findings suggest we are hurtling towards a world that once sounded like science fiction; one in which imperfections are eliminated, disabilities eroded and parents enabled to pick idealised children from a medical production line.”

To hear stories from those living with a disability, whose parents chose life for them, visit The Christian Institute’s Choose Life Page.

Related Resources