So How Many Babies with Down Syndrome Are Actually Aborted?

Many of you read, commented, and shared the post I did about “The 8%,” referring to the percentage of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome who aren’t aborted.  I wrote:

In the United States, would you believe ninety-two percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted before they get a chance to take a breath? When I hear this statistic, it makes me want to burst into tears.  I can’t imagine a world without Trig — he is the best brother!  (Okay, you’re not too bad either, Track!)

It’s crazy how in love with Trig we all are. When Tripp is acting up — which he does often! — I sometimes joke with my mom.

“Hey, want to trade kids?” I laugh.

Willow and I always talk about how lovable Trig is, and how we’d take him over any so-called “normal” kid anyday! He’s way cooler than people with fewer chromosomes. I’d have a Down syndrome baby in a heartbeat, and I know anyone else would if they saw any sort of glimpse of how perfect my little brother is.

Thank you for sharing your stories in the comments section and for sharing that post with your friends. However, my website administrator got an e-mail from another on the SixSeeds Faith and Family Channel, author Amy Julia Becker – the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome.  I’m sorry to say I think I unknowingly passed on incorrect information.  She told me that the 8% number is not exactly accurate.  She writes:

I just read Bristol’s post about babies who are born with DS being one of the 8%. I love the poem she includes, and I think her point is an important one. Still, I’ve learned recently that it’s an inaccurate number. It’s widely cited by many people, but it’s based on a single study from a single hospital in the 1980′s. Overall, it seems that about 70% of babies prenatally diagnosed with DS are aborted, and that the abortion rates vary greatly from region to region across the US. Moreover, lots of women don’t seek prenatal diagnosis, whether out of ignorance or because they don’t want to risk an amnio or because they don’t think the information is necessary. So out of all babies conceived with DS, 50% are actually born. Still a terrible reality that 50% are aborted, but a much better situation than the 8% number implies.

I think it’s important to get the accurate numbers out there so that women who are facing decisions about prenatal testing and abortion recognize that they are not alone if they decide to forgo the testing and/or keep the baby with DS. There are thousands of other women making the same decision who want to support them and love their babies.

Thanks, Amy, for the correction. Yes, moms who are facing this challenge, know you’re not alone!

And some of you might enjoy Amy’s book called, “A Good and Perfect Gift:”

A GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany House) is a spiritual memoir that chronicles Amy Julia Becker’s journey through her daughter Penny’s first years of life. Top of her class at Princeton, Amy Julia Becker always imagined that her children would turn out just like her. So when her daughter Penny entered the world with Down syndrome, Becker had to rethink everything.

In fact, another Patheos blog is giving away this book.  Click here for Anna Quinn’s complete review and details on how to win your own copy!

  • Kimberly Lindsey

    Thanks Bristol… Love your Blog

  • http://EileenS Eileen Steller

    There is an old socialist (don’t quote me on the source, please) saying that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes a truth. The homosexual community wants us to believe that their lifestyle is finding more and more acceptance everyday. Because so many people don’t want to offend anyone or get in trouble , they may tell a pollster that they are “evolving” on their thoughts toward homosexuals but behind closed doors or in the company of friends they say the opposite. For anyone who has ever read through the Bible or sat in a church pew, God has very plainly stated that homosexuality is an abomination to Him and He will never change His position. He goes so far as to say that they will never enter into heaven. I have read through the Bible over 20 times and the Words have never changed but I would always hope for His mercy on all of us.

    • JustAMom

      Eileen the gay community doesn’t need polls to know there is acceptance. We see it every day in our friends, families and coworkers. In music, top rated television shows. In the workplace where gay leaders are creating some of the most exciting new technologies and products ever known to man. As a gay person its astonishing how quickly things have changed in such a short time. We’ve already won you just don’t know it yet. I hope your still around in a few years to see marriage equality become the law of the land. Conservatives can continue to stick their heads in the sand all they want…and the rest of the world will just right by them.

      • Allie

        JustAMom, there will not be equality until people are looked at as people, not a race, not someone with a different sexual preference. I personally do not care if my music, technology, television or anything was made by a gay person or a straight person or an asexual. There is nothing to be “won” since there have been gay people since the beginning of time.

        All that being said, I believe in religious rights and if a religion does not want to marry a gay couple it is their right. Again, I believe that there should be a some kind of civil union (call it marriage if it makes you feel better) that allows for gays to have the same rights as a married couple. For example, I am Catholic and because I got a used husband (he was divorced, just in case you did not get my humor) we had to get married in a non Catholic church. I do not consider our marriage less valid because of it and eventually he got an annulment but it took a few years. I did not go wild against the Catholic church and just made do.

        • JustAMom

          Allie I completely agree that equality will not happen until people are looked at as people. Unfortunately as long as the majority gets to vote on the rights of a minority this will not happen. I also agree that churches should not have to marry anyone that goes against their beliefs. I think government should get out of personal relationships completely. Or give EVERYONE a civil union and let churches perform marriage ceremonies at their discretion. Regardless everyone should be treated equally in this area.

          I’m sorry that the Catholic church did not allow you to get married. In my opinion institutions such as this will have to change as contemporary society continues to make progress.

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  • traci

    well, i believe and most of the country believe that a child raised in a house with a father and a mother would be the best situation. That is not just an opinion, but a fact! poll after poll shows that the majority of the country do not believe in same sex marriages. I believe that marriage is a holy union made before god! Now, i do believe that a civil union for gay couples and any couple that dont want to be married, but want to enjoy the same LEGAL rights that married couples enjoy would be an excellent alternative. As far as Bristol admitting that she gave out the wrong information, i say “you go girl”! At least she had the honesty to admit she was wrong and offer a correction. You are a GREAT girl Bristol! Keep up the good work

    • kelly

      What the heck has this rant got to do with the article traci? that topic was done to death last week. move on!
      and why would you say ‘you go girl’ to passing on unresearched and inaccurate informationto the masses? You are an idiot.

    • LMA

      Michael (below) will want you to cite specific polls, traci.

      • Frederick Lang

        LMA. In EVERY state, where the ballot has been introduced for consideration on same sex marriage before the people of that state, the people of that state vote down this idea of redefining marriage. This includes twice done in California where I live…one of the most liberal states in the union. The majority of people wish marriage to remain as only being between a man and a woman. Only those states that passed a same sex marriage bill, they were passed by their out of touch legislature, NOT the people of that state. What more “poll” do you need except it be an actual vote cast by the people and where it means something. Oh, I’m sure the sentiments are slowly changing but for the past 250 years of this nation till present, the people of this country want to see this nation remain a beacon to the rest of the world concerning God’s moral law and social conservatism.

        • LMA

          Frederick, you brought up an undeniable point…until your last sentence. And yes, American voters have voted to not redefine marriage in some states, but that still doesn’t speak to the fact that children can be raised well and happily by same-sex parents, as proven in credible studies. And you can’t make a pronouncement about morality and call a question definitively answered. That this nation is a “beacon to the rest of the world concerning God’s moral law and social conservatism” is certainly an opinion. Have you ever been to any European country? You’d probably be like most Conservatives I know and scoff at this, but I’ve been to Europe, and quite a few of the people I’ve met think we Americans could stand to evolve a bit when it comes to social issues.

  • http://www.TheEstherLegacy.com Robyn Lund

    Awesome! In doing research for my own website, The Esther Legacy, hearing the 8% didn’t quite seem right and was depressing sounding~but I didn’t quite know since I just finally moved on to tackling the Down syndrome section yesterday! So, reading this just made my day!! Seriously, with all the information I have been reading the past month and a half…it was this week that hit me hard, and I had to go to God, asking for more strength, patience, peace, and love to keep up this vision he laid in my heart. It is not easy to forgive President Obama or those who work in abortion clinics, but I need to. I recently heard, by Susanne Cox, that the chains of unforgiveness only bind you to the people that make your heart hurt and heavy-laiden. Until I forgive, then I am free of the pain as well. Kudos to you, for admitting the error! I am just happy more than 8% have their right to life. I pray the percentage that are allowed to live continues to rise!
    ~Robyn

    • LMA

      Robyn, why does the president and those who work in abortion clinics require your forgiveness? Just curious…

  • http://www.conversiondiary.com Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Thanks for the update! I think that this is really the key point:

    …abortion rates vary greatly from region to region across the US.

    Around here, I think that the 8% number is pretty accurate. Sadly, outside of my religious friends, it’s completely commonplace for pregnant moms to make offhanded comments indicating that they would have abortions if tests for DS came back positive — there’s not even a stigma against such talk, even when the mom is well into the second trimester. Just so sad.

    Anyway, thanks for speaking out and writing about this. It’s such an important topic.

  • http://teachingdownsyndrome.com Helen Middlebrooke

    Down syndrome statistics are slippery things… you really can’t get a handle on them. I’ve been trying to sort them out for a dozen years, since my daughter was born. The 92 percent abortion rate is bogus, and I believe the 50 percent is wrong as well.
    If you believe the latest reports that the incidents of Down syndrome births has increased (from one in about 700 to one in 691) then you simply cannot have an abortion rate of 50 or 90 percent of all conceptions with Down syndrome. That just does not add up. If you have an increased occurrence at the same time you have a high abortion rate, that means you have significantly increased the number of conceptions of Down syndrome at a unbelievable rate. (If it’s a 90 percent rate, then you’d have to believe that the incidents of DS conceptions has nearly doubled in recent times, which seems unlikely.)

    Although I have yet to get a definitive answer, I believe Dr. Brian Stotko of Children’s Hospital Boston has the best answer. Last fall he wrote that the abortion rate is really 90 percent of the cases where there is a DEFINITE prenatal diagnosis. He said only about 2 percent of parents get a definitive diagnosis, because a definitive diagnosis has required invasive testing. All this means is that the actual abortion rate would be very low–90 percent of 2 percent is 1.8 percent of ALL Down syndrome conceptions. This would explain why the live birth rate has not significantly changed.

    My gut says a 1.8 percent rate is too low, but there really is no way of actually knowing. However, we could see a true 90 percent abortion rate if the public latches on to the new non-invasive testing that was released last fall, which supposedly has a better than 95 percent accuracy rating. This would be a great tragedy. Individuals with Down syndrome have much to offer our world, if we normal people would just get over our prejudices against them.

    In the end, it really doesn’t matter what the abortion rate is. What matters far more is that babies with Down syndrome are rapidly becoming public enemy number 1, and are being targeted for extinction around the world. (Denmark and France boast even higher rates of abortion. And they do boast! They want to rid their countries of people with the condition.)

    Our best hope is honest education. We need to tell the truth about having a child with DS, and avoid the sentimentality. Kids with DS are not “little angels” who are “always loving,” etc. They are kids, who have a variety of emotions, and who make life very challenging, as do all children. And like all children, the rewards are great for helping them reach their potential and become contributing members of society.

  • http://Vets4Sarah.net opditch

    Ok, so the 8% was from a 1980′s from a single hospital. So how extensive and accurate is the other source for 50%? I can’t find the source.

  • bellagrazi

    You may have gotten the number wrong, Bristol, but this is still a heartbreaking statistic. Thank you for the correction.

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