During a United Nations gathering in November, UN Human Rights Committee member Yadh Ben Achour argued that abortion should be used as a “preventive measure” for unborn babies with Down syndrome to “avoid the handicap.”
Charlotte Fien, a 21-year-old with Down syndrome and Autism, responded to Achour in a video supported by Down syndrome advocacy groups including the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, DownPride, and Stop Discriminating Down.
“I’m a human being just like you,” Fien responded to Achour’s remarks. “Our only difference is an extra chromosome.”
“My extra chromosome makes me far more tolerant than you, sir,” she added. “If any other heritable traits, like skin color, were used to eradicate a group of people, the world would cry out. Why are you not crying out when people like me are being made extinct? What have we done to make you want us to disappear?”
“As far as I know, my community doesn’t hate, discriminate, or commit crimes,” she said. “I keep hearing you use the word suffering in relation to Down syndrome. The only thing we have to suffer are horrible people who want to make us extinct. I have a brilliant life. I have a family that loves me. I have great friends. I have an active social life.”
“What you are suggesting is eugenics. It’s disgusting and evil,” she emphasized. “You need to apologize for your horrible comments. You should also be removed from the Human Rights Committee as an expert. You are not an expert about Down syndrome. You, sir, do not speak for my community.”
Fien gave a speech before the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva in honor of World Down Syndrome Day in March.
Achour, however, argued at the November UN gathering in Geneva, “If you tell a woman ‘Your child has Dow…’ — what is it called? Down syndrome, Dawn syndrome — if you tell her that, or that he may have a handicap forever, for the rest of his life, you should make this woman… it should be possible for her to resort to abortion to avoid the handicap as a preventive measure,”
Achour called himself “an ardent defender of the handicapped,” adding that the state must ensure that the handicapped “have a life, a possible living.”
“But that does not mean that we have to accept to let a disabled fetus live,” he emphasized. “This is a preventive measure.”
“So this is where we will find the difference between the birth of the human being. Once he is born, it is finished; with a handicap or without a handicap, he must live and we must protect absolutely, in an absolute manner, his right to life,” he explained.
“So us, we defend the right of the handicapped, but, but we can avoid the handicaps, and we must do everything we can to avoid them,” he concluded. “And it is not contradictory.”
A human rights group warned the UN about the high rates of abortion for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome earlier this year.
A recent CBS report highlighted the near 100 percent abortion rate for those diagnosed with the condition in Iceland. Denmark has a 98 percent abortion rate following screening and diagnosis of the condition and in France the number is 77 percent. Even in the United States, 67 percent of those diagnosed with the condition are aborted.