Oct 222015 14 Responses

Questions for Bernie Sanders About Down Syndrome

When Americans listen to politicians in the middle of a campaign, we often have one primary question, “How would your ideas impact my family?” It’s a common sense question which helps the average citizen make an informed choice during an election. It shouldn’t be the only question, but it is a good question.

How would the philosophies of Bernie Sanders impact my family?

As candidate for the democratic nomination for President, Sanders has burst on the scene with wild popularity. He is fundraising faster than President Obama 8 years ago. He is shocking political pundits by polling well against the established front-runner. He is doing these things while rejecting the most lucrative forms of political power (Super PACs) and energizing young people with new ideas.

Sanders is proud to say he rejects our economic system of capitalism and instead desires democratic socialism. Knowing the American people are greatly uninformed about democratic socialism, Sanders often points to Denmark as a shinning example of what the American system could be. (See: Children, Disability, and Abortion)

In looking at Denmark and my family, I have a question for Mr. Sanders:

“Do you believe the birth of my daughter is a failure of American capitalism?” 

The night my daughter was born ten years ago, our pediatrician came into the room and told us she had all the signs of Down syndrome. A few weeks later, the diagnosis was confirmed. For the past decade we have felt both the joys and sorrows of raising a child with special needs. (For more of the story of Ella’s birth, click here.)

Over the past few months, I have listened to Bernie Sanders and his call to restructure the American system. Many of the issues which concern him–wage inequality, the percentage of people in prison, our aging infrastructure–also concern me. Yet because I’m unfamiliar with democratic socialism, I’m taking Sanders advice and paying attention to Denmark.

This week a headline from a Denmark newspaper caught my eye: Down Syndrome Heading for Extinction in Denmark. With an aggressive push toward prenatal screening and a 98% termination rate of pregnancies diagnosed with Down syndrome, Denmark may soon be the first country without individuals who have Down syndrome. This development will not be the result of a cure, but will be the result of the intentional elimination of anyone with an extra chromosome. (See: How Many Chromosomes Will We Have in Heaven?)

“Is it causation or correlation regarding the relationship between Denmark’s economic system and what is happening to the Down syndrome community?” 

It could be that the two are totally unrelated. It was a sunny day on 9/11, yet the cloudless sky didn’t cause the twin towers to fall. It’s possible it’s just a coincidence that the country Bernie Sanders points to as an example of democratic socialism also has this horrible track record regarding the special needs community. But I doubt it.

My fear is that there is a direct link between democratic socialism and the elimination of those with special needs. The fact that many Danes consider it a positive development that fewer children with Down Syndrome are being born reveals an underlying belief system. (See: Beliefs Have Consequences)

Is the dark side of democratic socialism an apathy toward those who are different? Does social ownership devalue the dignity of those who seem to contribute less to the common good? If a government can successfully target the elimination of one class of people, who will they target next?

I quickly acknowledge my ignorance regarding democratic socialism. I admit a skepticism toward it. Yet Bernie Sanders challenged the American people to consider a different way so I honored his request. But I quickly found something that is appalling and it is something for which he needs to give an answer.

“Does Bernie Sanders believe it is in our best interest to eliminate babies diagnosed with Down syndrome?” 

I respect Bernie Sanders, his passion, honesty, and seriousness he is bringing to his campaign. These questions aren’t gotcha questions, but are serious reflections on something in the news regarding Denmark. I would love to hear his answers.

While he is raising a good amount of money, I think there are better avenues for people to send their financial support in order to make a difference in our country. One way, is to financially support those who are actually helping the Down syndrome community. If you want to make a positive contribution to people like my daughter, see the Down Syndrome Guild of Kansas City.

14 Responses to Questions for Bernie Sanders About Down Syndrome
  1. […] Every generation judges the previous one based on the issues of their day. One day, Silas will judge... https://www.kevinathompson.com/debate-most-in-my-life

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