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The Down Syndrome Holocaust

In Iceland, my son would have been killed.

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This is my son Josh.  In Iceland, he would have been killed.

Josh has Down syndrome.  He was born with one extra chromosome.  As a result, he looks a little different than most of us, has a lower IQ, and has an innocent smile that could melt the coldest of hearts.

In Iceland, these differences would render Josh unfit to be born. Iceland now brags that they have aborted 100% of babies who have Down syndrome and eradicated Down syndrome from their country.

Seventy-five years ago, the leader of a different country bragged of the same accomplishment, only in that case, the people whose difference from the majority rendered them unfit to live were Jews.

In both cases, the mass murder of those so impure that they had to be extinguished from society was inspired by the pseudo-science of eugenics. After the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews, the world declared itself enlightened to the evils of eugenics.

The world was fooling itself.

In the United States, 93% of babies identified as having that notorious extra chromosome are murdered in the womb.  In England it’s 90%.  And much of the medical community considers that great “progress” toward eliminating people with Down syndrome from our society altogether.

My son was part of the 7%.  My wife and I learned that Josh had Down syndrome early in the pregnancy.  That information caused us to have to change our expectations and to educate ourselves about our new reality.  But we certainly were not going to kill our son because he was different.

After Josh was born, I had the honor to become the President of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads (in Southeast Virginia).  In that position, I had the privilege of meeting and befriending scores of people with Down syndrome.

And yes, it was a privilege.  You see, while people with Down syndrome do have many deficits compared to typically-developing people, they also have attributes superior to most of us.  People with Down syndrome have an empathy that most of us can’t imagine. They don’t see people for their physical traits.  They have an innate sense of who a person is as a whole person, and they are drawn to the best in each of us.

If you want to feel good about yourself, or just feel good, take some time to spend with a person who has Down syndrome.  You will walk away feeling inspired and with a glow in your heart.

Oh, and if you’re an employer looking for good employees with a strong work ethic, you can do no better than people with Down syndrome, who love to work and be productive. They can’t wait to go to work, and they are sad when the work day is over. Their enthusiasm is infectious and tends to inspire the rest of us to want to work harder and better – in order to be like them.

The “enlightened” leaders of the world dream of a world without Down syndrome.  They consider the eradication of people with Down syndrome from an entire country to be a laudable accomplishment.

Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.

What they are attempting is a crime against humanity – just as were the actions of another “enlightened” leader of the not-too-distant past.

My son has the right to live, to be happy, to thrive.  And so does every other person with Down syndrome.  To deprive any person of his life for being different is an evil against all people.

So huzzah for Iceland for its successful genocide – and may God have mercy on their souls.

Ken Falkenstein

Author: Ken Falkenstein

Ken Falkenstein brings a wealth of experience and expertise in public affairs to Committed Conservative, having worked in all three branches of the government and at every level of government, federal, state, and local. Ken served in the U.S. Army in the last years of the Cold War as a Russian linguist for military intelligence and the NSA. After leaving the Army, he earned his degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University, where he also wrote a popular column in the student newspaper called Ken’s Colloquium.

Upon graduation, Ken worked as a Legislative Aide to two Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Ken also served as Corresponding Secretary of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, managed several successful political campaigns, and ran governmental affairs for the Tidewater Association of Realtors.

In 1995, Ken moved to Washington to serve as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. John Warner (R-VA). While working for Sen. Warner, Ken attended law school at night, earning his J.D. cum laude from the George Mason University School of Law (n/k/a The Antonin Scalia Law School). Since that time, Ken has practiced as a civil litigation attorney, including serving for three years as an Associate City Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ken previously was a contributor to the highly-regarded political blog Bearing Drift and was a weekly co-host of The Steve Batton Radio Show.

In 2016, Ken ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Beach School Board. Ken is also a former President of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads, and he is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Congregation Beth Chaverim in Virginia Beach.

Ken lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, Kim, and three sons, Adam, Dylan, and Joshua, who has Down syndrome and autism. Ken’s writing and activism is motivated and informed primarily by his concern for his kids’ future.

31 COMMENTS

  1. I love the tone of outrage in this article as the mumof a loving daughter withT21 we have been fighting this battle since her birth. Have you ever heard of the Nazis’ T4 Program? They started the Holocaust with patients in govt hospitals with Down syndrome and other conditions, because they assumed that no one cares.

    • I was aware of the Nazi policy, although I didn’t know its name. The whole “Master Race” concept was based on the American pseudoscience of eugenics, which was one of the greatest evils of the 20th century. Most people now recognize how abhorrent this idea is, but unfortunately they don’t recognize that the effort to eradicate Down syndrome is, in fact, a part of the evil of eugenics.

  2. My brother has Down syndrome, and I love him more than I can explain. He means the world to me and I am so glad he is in it. I support 100% that people like him should have a chance in this world. However, I don’t think that having the choice not to raise a child with Down syndrome is a bad thing.

    My brother has had so many struggles in his life– he fought to live as baby born with a big hole in his heart. He also had a severe cleft palate which has caused him respiratory and speech issues that persist into his adulthood. He has an associated condition where his circle of Willis arteries (blood supply to his brain) are becoming progressively occluded (blocked), and has suffered from very painful strokes and extended ICU hospitalization for weeks on weeks. He has been teased, bullied, physically assaultef and isolated by people who think he is a dummy, don’t like him because he looks different than them and can’t understand the tantrums he sometimes throws and crying fits he sometimes has because of the painful mini-strokes and headaches he frequently has due to the decreasing blood supply to his brain. We have always stepped up to defend and save him and been injured and ostracized in the process too.

    We live in a country with no free universal healthcare or government regulations on health care. Furthermore, insurance companies do not insure anyone with preexisting health conditions, and for my brother with Down syndrome, no insurance company would insure him at all. In practice, this has meant that doctors and hospitals need only cater to the richest of the rich, are very corrupt and get away with treating us badly and not talking to us or explaining what is going on transparently. They see my brother as a cash cow for them, someone who they can just keep in the hospital under any excuse since he has such intense preexisting conditions. My parents have a limited supply of money and cannot do everything necessary to secure his life in such a corrupt system where medical care is so expensive that you might literally have to give up eating in order to afford a life saving procedure for a loved one. We have had to be in situations where we have needed to sell our own organs to be able to afford surgery for my brother.

    Furthermore there is no free education or social programs to help him. This means that most of the burden of his care is on his family and that is something we don’t naturally have the training or resources for. This means that although there are indeed actors, fashion designers, Zumba teachers, sports people and university graduates with Down syndrome, for people who do not have the wealth and community resources to support the increased educational and health needs of their children with Down syndrome, breaking the barriers and achieving things like this is pretty much impossible.

    Altogether, I am trying to explain that I t’s a very, very hard ordeal raising a child with Down syndrome, and not everyone has the capability of taking this kind of burden on. And while there are a range of abilities and health levels that Down syndrome can present with, there is no way of knowing how tough your child’s case will be at the get go. So rather than villanizing people who are worried, reasonably, about such consequences and choose not to have a child with Down syndrome, how about focusing only on increasing awareness that a life with someone who has Down syndrome in it, although challenging, is also a very beautiful experience? I liked the part where the author highlighted all the positive qualities (I can attest to it) of people with Down syndrome.

    Why not keep supporting people with Down syndrome in communities so that they can achieve more, and when the couple down the street from a child with Down syndrome hears that they are expecting a bundle of joy with a little something extra, they can feel optimism because they know firsthand about the wonderful experience of being around someone with it?

    Why not focus on expanding community and healthcare support for children with Down syndrome so parents don’t have to feel terrified about the arduous road ahead of them, and can know that there will be help and resources available to them?

    Why is it that this article only tries to moralize the issue of not aborting a child with Down syndrome without discussing the other moral issues of providing the needy, like children with Down syndrome who don’t have rich parents with the same chances for a healthy and dignified life as any other child? Why do people only think about the child’s unborn life? What about the rest of it?

    The issue is not just the morality of the choice of aborting a child with Down syndrome. It is about the great list of problems in our world that predisposes parents to think that they need to do so. Bringing someone into the world does not automatically mean they are not being deprived their right to thrive. There are many other things that deprive their right to thrive even after they are born. I would like to see people talk more about that– to see people talk more about accepting differences of all kinds, to see people fight to create a world where all of us have access to the crucial life giving health and educational support we all need to thrive. I want to see them give my brother a real chance to live, beyond being born. This toe-deep moral rant doesn’t cut it for me.

    • I think I have a girl crush on you for what you wrote! Couldnt agree more. You’re never going to stop anyone from ANY abortion through judgement, shaming and comparing them to Nazi’s. But educating people on what it’s like to know, love and care for someone with special needs can give them a better informed decision. I cant stand people who paint all abortion as thoughtless murder. Sometimes a mother sees the life her child will have before it’s born and she makes a hard decision to spare that soul a life of pain despite what she wants; that is exactly what a real mother does for a child she loves. That is love too.

    • I don’ know where you live but can assure you that the lack educational and other resources are available in our state of Minnesota. iWork in the local school and have regular contact with Downs children.

  3. I can relate to the struggles that your brother and your family have had. My son also was born with a number of life-threatening medical conditions. He was in the hospital for over a year after he was born, and we almost lost him on several occasions. But today he is healthy and, more importantly, happy.

    I don’t know what country you live in. In the U.S., Medicaid covers most of the issues that you described. Although I am a limited government conservative, Medicaid is one program that I have come to appreciate. I do know that many countries remain unenlightened about people with Down syndrome. In some of the more primitive countries, they are simply put to death. In others, they are stuck in horrible orphanages where they are given a minimum of food and no meaningful quality of life. I have friends who have adopted 12 children with Down syndrome – 11 from Ukraine and one from Ethiopia. I have learned a lot from them about the problems for kids with Down syndrome in those countries.

    But the answer isn’t to kill babies because they are born with an extra chromosome that makes them atypical. The answer is to educate people and make them learn to appreciate these people for the treasures that they are. That is going to be a long and challenging process, but it is one that is vital to undertake.

    • And you are so right about that. I absolutely agree with you on eradicating Down syndrome being an answer to nothing. Luckily, all it takes is five minutes with a person with Down syndrome as you mentioned to know in your heart that they are beautiful and just as deserving of life.

      I appreciate your efforts to educate on the issue and look forward to seeing you educate people even more on how they can contribute to creating a supportive environment for people with Down syndrome in their communities. I live in a small country in Asia and there the medical community is quite hostile as I have described. Even in the west where conditions are much better, I have heard that doctors simply advise termination in cases of Down syndrome without a full understanding of their capabilities. I wish that hospitals could educate doctors and have patient advocates who can explain to people that it is not going to mean relegating a child to a life of torture and pain, explain how to get the support they need, towns they could move to that are more supportive and so on.

      For people in other countries where understanding about this isn’t as advanced like mine, it really makes a differences to see the videos and stories of success in places with better support systems in place. It helps us have motivation and inspiration to set up better systems. I don’t know much about Iceland but I think if the parents and doctors there had more information about how much healthier communities are when they set up programs to support each other and when they are not making snap judgements about the capabilities of a person, they would not be gloating over “eradicating” Down syndrome. They would realize how important it is to be reminded about how to make systems inclusive so all abilities and backgrounds can bring their best to participate. When we begged a speech therapist to travel to our small town twice a month for my brother, many children who did not even have Down syndrome also benefitted! Now those children are able to do well in school and contribute to their families.

      And it is not like people with Down syndrome are overrruning the world anyway! There is a very small chance of having a child with Down syndrome. So why not embrace it if you can find the strength? You are quite right about that.

      But I hope people can understand alongside that it is important that the people who make the difficult choice are then supported so they can succeed, otherwise the same bleak attitude that is causing them to be blind will again emerge. I don’t think people are evil or thinking of this from eugenics most of the time (although as you have shown there are some people who do and they are abhorrent for it). I think they are mostly scared because they are given wrong information and don’t have the full support they need, or are not aware of how to get it.

      • Very nicely and eloquently said. I’m humbled that someone on the other side of the planet would take the time to read and respond to my column. Your comments prove that when it comes to things like Down syndrome, we are all, at our core, members of the same community of man.

    • That is bull. I live in the US and Meficaid doesn’t cover anything for my son with DS, so that is not true. We don’t qualify for any Medicaid, do my son gets no therapies or services unless we pay 90.00 per session after our 3000.00 deductible. We can’t afford it do he gets nothing.

      • Michelle – My son has had almost everything covered by Medicaid since the day he was born. I don’t know why Medicaid is not covering your son. Have you spoken to your local social services office? There could be coverage of which you’re unaware. God bless you and your son.

  4. I am shocked that Icelandic doctors think killing unborn babies with Downes Syndrome is something to be proud of. Those selfsame doctors may some day be very elderly and feeble and totally reliant on the kindness of strangers to look after them.

    I live in Ireland. I was born in 1954. One of my teachers in primary school told us about the evil that the Nazis soldiers did. The Second World War ended in 1945. All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.

    We all have the right to life.

    God bless you Mr Falkenstein and Loving Sister and Ms. Velasquez.

    • Renee – Thank you for the kind words. What is happening is a great evil, and you’re right that people of good will need to speak up and take action to stop it. God bless you too.

  5. You should try to see Shorty when you get a chance. About a guy known and loved by generations of H-SC man. All he wanted for his 60th birthday was for Hampden-Sydney to beat Macon. About ten years old now, and he’s still going strong (though he’s retired).

  6. My husband and I were trying to adopt a little girl from Russia who has Down syndrome. We met her in July 2012 but unfortunately in December 2012 a ban on American adoptions prevented us from ever bringing her home. I refused to give up on her and have continued to fight to bring her home.

    In January 2014 I flew back to Russia in hopes of finding a Russian family to love and adopt her. I knew the chances were very slim since over 50% of Russian citizens leave their children in the hospital if the have Down syndrome. It’s not that they don’t love them or want to keep them but their society is where our’s was about 30 years ago. They have no resources and so they are told the child would be better off being cared for in an institution.

    The little girl we were trying to adopt is in an amazing orphanage but that is not the case at all for most children with special needs in Russia. On my trip back I was able to visit an amazing organization called Downside Up. They provide support and resources for families who have children with Down syndrome for all of Eastern Europe. I was interviewed at their facility with high hopes that my daughter would find a loving family. I was also filmed for a Russian documentary.

    For years I have felt like it was all for nothing. Then I was contacted by someone in Israel. That person told me they saw the Russian documentary on TV in Israel. They said they had a friend who had just found out they were pregnant with a child that has Down syndrome. This friend was strongly considering abortion. Then she saw the documentary. She saw this crazy American women desperately trying to adopt a child with Down syndrome. She saw me teaching my daughter sign language and interacting with me. All of a sudden her baby was no longer just a diagnoses but a real child with potential. Even if that potential was different than what she had originally planned for her child.

    There isn’t one night that I go to sleep that I don’t think of my daughter stuck in an orphanage and that my heart doesn’t yearn to hold her again. Everything I have tried has failed to bring her home but I am grateful for the knowledge that at least the film I was in helped to change someone’s mind and help them see that their child’s life was worth giving a chance.

    My sweet daughter stuck in a Russian orphanage has much to teach the world about acceptance and love. I keep praying that her story helps to change hearts and that one day she will have the family she deserves. Until then I will never stop fighting for her or sharing her story.

    Recently I was contacted about helping write a children’s book about her story. I am hoping it will help show that children with Down syndrome are worth fighting for.

    • Katrina – God bless you for all you have done, and especially for inspiring that mother in Israel. Vladimir Putin put the adoption ban in place out of spite to stick a finger in our country’s eye. His ban is nothing less than evil and has left thousands of kids like your daughter in orphanages when they could have loving parents like you. I admire and appreciate that you’ve never given up the fight.

      I have some very good friends here in Southeast Virginia, David and Jane Daulton, who have adopted 12 kids with Down syndrome from Ukraine and another from Ethiopia. They had intended to adopt from Russia, but as you know, that wasn’t possible. They go to Ukraine twice every year with a group of people to teach doctors, teachers, social workers, and others about people with Down syndrome and about their potential as human beings. They have opened a lot of eyes and improved the lives of thousands of kids with Down syndrome in that Eastern European country.

      People like you and the Daultons are making the entire world a better place through your efforts. Please don’t ever give up.

  7. When my second child was conceived we were offered amniocentesis testing owing to my partners age but we declined which was received with some incredulity at the time until we explained that as we were both registered learning disability nurses we knew better than most what a DS child would be like and though caring for such a child 24/7 isn’t the same as caring for one for a working shift we were confident we would cope if that was required as it turned out our child was born without an extra chromosome and we avoided the risk of spontaneous abortion from a unnecessary and unwanted invasive procedure

    • I wish more people were as enlightened as you and your partner. Through efforts to inform and educate people, I hope someday that will be the case.

  8. Ken,
    I thank you for all the care you have for your son and for all other children. I see far fewer children with Down Syndrome and other abnormalities and my life has become less fulfilling and enlightened as a result. All people have the capacity to love and receive love and this is life at its core. All people need to rally around those who have challenges in life. It could be as simple as a smile or a word of encouragement. Abortion is never an answer. Society must and can do better.

    Rick

  9. When one begins their bioethical philosophy from the position that human worth is *not* Divinely intrinsic, then there should be no surprise at the plethora of justifications for murdering infants seen as “less than,” nor can there be any surprise for other forms of so-called “ethical” human murder such as medical euthanasia and the support assisted suicide.

    When one bases their ethics on a foundation of false, one cannot come to a conclusion of truth.

    • I blame the leftist/collectivist mindset as the primary cause for these kinds of atrocities. The only way that eugenics policies such as the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews and the current holocaust of people with Down syndrome can be rationalized is to place the interests of the collective ahead of the interests of the individual.

  10. Statistics are similar for children like our Lizzy, who have Spina Bifida. The world is fearful of what is different, and many of these “progressive” countries with government “health care” systems try to weed out those who will cost the most money in care. What could be easier than murdering a defenseless baby in the womb? I mean, talk about being as proverbially easy as stealing candy from a baby, except it’s stealing the baby’s life, not candy.
    We were pressed –hard– to abort our little girl the day we found out she has Spina Bifida, and the bleakest of bleak pictures of her future was described to us. We didn’t, because even through our fear of what was to be and our devastation at the news that our precious baby would have a lifelong disability, we knew that she’s created in the image of God and as image bearers ourselves, we have a responsibility to love her for who she was created to be. And loving her is the easiest thing we’ve ever had to do. <3

    • God bless you and your family. You’re right that socialized health care systems are a major cause for the holocaust of kids with disabilities. One has to have a collectivist mindset to think that there is any justification for killing kids because of their perceived imperfections.

  11. Ken and all others on this post, Thank you for your courage to stand up and speak out on this timely subject. Yes, dealing with the challenges that are handed out along with an extra chromosome can sometimes….many times….be incredibly harsh….but that’s the essence of humanity…in my humble opinion….to respect the value of life, the sacredness of life and dedicate ourselves to improving life, finding ways around the obstacles, making it better for the next generation. like many of you on this post, I too have learned life lessons from a young woman with Down syndrome, my daughter Karen. The world of TED talks provided her the opportunity to speak from her heart on this very matter. You can find the talk at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwxjoBQdn0s or search Karen Gaffney TEDxPortland
    Thank you all again for standing up and speaking up!

  12. Ken, and all others on this post, Thank you for your courage to stand up and speak out on this timely subject. Yes, dealing with the challenges that are handed out along with an extra chromosome can sometimes….many times….be incredibly harsh….but that’s the essence of humanity…in my humble opinion….to respect the value of life, the sacredness of life and dedicate ourselves to improving life, finding ways around the obstacles, making it better for the next generation. like many of you on this post, I too have learned life lessons from a young woman with Down syndrome, my daughter Karen. The world of TED talks provided her the opportunity to speak from her heart on this very matter. You can find the talk at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwxjoBQdn0s or search Karen Gaffney TEDxPortland
    Thank you all again for standing up and speaking up!

    Reply

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