In 1919, a popular female public figure stated that she believed in sterilizing the "growing stream of the unfit" so that they ceased to produce and the world would evolve into "a race of thoroughbreds." The government, the woman taught, should "apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to the grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring." She concluded that "dysgenic groups" should be given "their choice of segregation or sterilization."
The woman was Margaret Sanger, and she founded what is today one of the most powerful eradicators of so-called "unfit" people groups in the world: Planned Parenthood.
Ninety-eight years later, Iceland is the paradigm of Margaret Sanger's dream come to fruition. The Nordic nation now eliminates, via an unholy trinity of prenatal screening, "heavy-handed" genetic counseling, and abortion, almost 100 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome.
How does it feel not to be counted among the "race of thoroughbreds"? One of the few individuals who survived the country's seek-and-destroy mindset toward people with her condition told CBS that people who meet her only see her condition. "They just see Down syndrome. They don't see me … It doesn't feel good." Indeed, I cannot imagine how terrible it must feel to grow up knowing that virtually everyone else in my country with Down syndrome was willfully eradicated by an intentional act of violence.
Iceland's abortion rate of individuals with Down syndrome is particularly draconian when juxtaposed with the unprecedented level of positive information we have about Down syndrome today. Much of what is popular knowledge today about Down syndrome comes from the first-hand testimonies of people with the condition -- testimonies that, almost without exception, bespeak lives lived to the fullest with tremendous access to opportunity and advancement.
We have to ask ourselves what kind of societal posture must pervade a nation that perceives Down syndrome as so frightening or devastating that nearly 100 percent of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to violently interrupt their children's lives. And before we pat ourselves on the back for not being Iceland, consider the horrifying fact that in the United States, about two out of three children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted.
It is Margaret Sanger and her intellectual progeny, including the current leaders of the abortion lobby, who perpetuate attitudes so discriminatory that in 21st century civilized society, entire nations have seemingly no pang of conscience over eradicating every person with a certain "undesirable" trait.
Which views of Sanger's are being perpetuated today to sanction this kind of discrimination?
First, the abortion industry's sacred doctrine that the weak are subject to the whims of the strong. It follows in a society where a preborn child is subject to the choice of the mother and overpowering violence of the abortionist that those perceived as more "weak" or "unfit" would be most at risk of being eliminated.
Second, the abortion movement's doctrine that humans do not have equal status by virtue of being human. For Sanger and for every abortion advocate alive today, rights are not inherent to humanity, but are subjectively granted by more powerful humans. In the case of preborn children, the right to life is granted only when the child is "wanted." In the case of children diagnosed with an undesired sex or condition, or conceived at an undesirable time, the right to life is withheld.
If our rights are not inherent to our humanity, they will always be given and taken by humans who are more powerful than we are. That is the macabre theology of Margaret Sanger and the abortion industry, and that is exactly what we see reflected today in Iceland and in every country where abortion is sanctioned by the members of society who have enjoyed the privilege of being born.
Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is president of Students for Life of America.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.