Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Zealand parents speak out against genocide of babies with Down syndrome

from Contact Genetique, an email newsletter of the Fondation Lejeune

"Screening for Down syndrome is genocide"

"Screening for Down syndrome is genocide"A group of parents with Down syndrome children from Right to Life, a New Zealand pro-life organisation, are threatening to take the government to the Court of Human Rights over its Down syndrome antenatal screening programme, introduced by the Health Minister in February 2010 without public consultation.

The parents claim this screening programme discriminates against people with Down syndrome as it violates article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by imposing measures intended to prevent births within a specific group of human beings. Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as an act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such by imposing measures intended to prevent births within this group.

The parents argue that people with Down syndrome constitute a stable and permanent group who are genetically related through the possession of a third chromosome on the 21st pair and who also share the same physical characteristics. They can therefore be defined as an ethnic group. The presence, form, presentation and management of this antenatal screening programme "sends a clear message to people with Down syndrome that their lives are not valued and reinforces discrimination towards them", they said.

The health ministry documents state that this programme will reduce the number of Down syndrome births; 90% of these babies are aborted.

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