In 2002, the year before I came to Congress, my precious brother, Bruce, died.
The poignancy of that loss and the pricelessness of my memories of him wash over my heart in this very moment. I remember that he wanted so badly for me to win the election and repeatedly told me with resolute certainty that I would. His prediction was especially significant in that it was shared by so few and by the fact that Bruce had Down syndrome.
Even though his IQ was approximately 60, his common sense, his theological depth, his delight for life, and his unfeigned love for God, his family, and absolutely everyone constantly astonished us all.
My wife and I once had the precious gift of teaching Sunday school for hundreds of one-year-old children over a period of 22 years. Three of our little students had Down syndrome, just like my brother Bruce. None of the children were more tender and gentle than these. Some of our very most touching memories of those years was when one of the babies with Down would see another baby crying and would hurriedly crawl or walk over close to them and lovingly help them cry.
Consequently, my heart was broken when I read the recent CBS News report on Iceland's "disappearing incidence" of Down syndrome. The tone of the report suggests that the people of Iceland have accomplished some great feat on behalf of humanity.
Of course, the "disappearing incidence" of children with Down is due to an almost 100 percent abortion rate for women who received a positive test for Down syndrome during their pregnancy.
A columnist recently corrected the CBS report – Iceland is not "eradicating Down syndrome births," the nation is eliminating people with Down syndrome. The second description is infinitely more accurate and unspeakably tragic.
What Iceland is really doing is perpetuating the abhorrent eugenics philosophy of eliminating "unfit" or "impaired" persons from their society through systematic murder.
Of course, the Icelandic government is not mandating these babies be killed. But through mandatory prenatal notification, the government makes it clear that the official and societal norm is for women to murder their child if he or she has Down syndrome.
However, this "policy" is really just a reflection of the culture of death that is spreading across the world. And speaking out against it in any way is becoming very politically incorrect.
Just last year, the French court system banned an ad featuring people with Down syndrome for fear of offending women who aborted their children diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The cultural Left has discovered a sterile, sure-fire method to deal with the physical and mental disabilities, poverty, over-population, and unwantedness in general: simply murder its victims behind closed doors, then safely rely upon their sympathizers in the media to extol their great "accomplishments" for humanity.
On the pro-life side, the logic of our position is easily discernible – an unborn child, even if they have Down syndrome, is a person, and person's life is valuable and should be cherished no matter what the attending challenges. Human life is an unspeakable gift and precious beyond understanding, regardless of whether that life is "wanted." Moreover, all life needs our collective protection if we are to survive intact as a human family.
Now let us investigate the moral logic animating the culture of death. A recent viral video featuring James Franco revealed the total incoherence of the pro-abortion stance: Is a baby only a baby if the child's mother decides it is? Is personhood conferred by a decision in the mother's mind?
The moral defense for the murder of children with Down syndrome is a twisted evil, and it causes the certain question to occur: Will "moral defense" one day include the "suffering" of those with mental illness? Or dissenting religious beliefs? Or political ideologies?
Such questions sound outrageous, almost laughable, until we consider some historical precedent. The entire Nazi "euthanasia" (translated "good death" in its Greek derivation) program began with a petition to allow the "mercy killing" of a little baby boy named Knauer, who was born blind, with one leg and part of one arm missing, and deemed, by his detractors, destined to become an "idiot." Who could have guessed the full extent to which Nazi atrocities would grow, from the insidious beginning of snuffing out a single unwanted, "unworthy" life?
A selfish but logical question falls to each of us. At what point might we find ourselves outside the perimeter of being wanted?
However, for those of us in America, and even across the world who still "hold these truths to be self-evident" that all human beings "are created equal," there are far greater questions to be asked in our own hearts when we consider the plight of the unborn, the disabled, the impaired, or the unwanted:
What if the words in America's Declaration of Independence are true?
What if there really is a God?
And what if these helpless little human beings really are His children?
I know how my brother Bruce would answer.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., represents Arizona's eighth district in Congress. He sponsors H.R. 147, the Prenatal Discrimination Act. You can follow him on Twitter: @RepTrentFranks
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