‘I beg your pardon?!’ Affected parents slam WHO for describing Down Syndrome as a ‘severe birth defect’

As if much of the world wasn’t angry enough at the World Health Organization (WHO) for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have just infuriated the parents of children with special needs by stating that Down Syndrome is a common “severe birth defect.”

On “World Birth Defect Day,” the WHO listed Down Syndrome alongside congenital heart defects, neural tube defects, and hemoglobin disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease, and suggested Down Syndrome could be “prevented and treated with access to quality maternal and newborn care.”

In a Feb. 28 blog, the WHO stated, “Birth defects can contribute to long-term disability, which takes a significant toll on individuals, families, health care systems and societies.”

The statement is particularly disturbing considering the WHO’s stance on abortion, which it describes as “a common health intervention.”

“Comprehensive abortion care is included in the list of essential health care services published by WHO in 2020,” the organization states on its website. “Abortion is a simple health care intervention that can be effectively managed by a wide range of health workers using medication or a surgical procedure.”

“Multiple actions are needed at the legal, health system and community levels so that everyone who needs abortion care has access to it,” WHO insists.

In its blog post, WHO notes that “ultrasound can be used to screen for Down Syndrome and major structural abnormalities during the first trimester, and for severe fetal anomalies during the second trimester.”

As there is no treatment or preventative cure for Down Syndrome, furious parents see the WHO’s designation of Down Syndrome as a severe birth defect as a call to have those babies with the chromosomal variation aborted.

The implication was enough to make Twitter explode.

“WHO still behaving as if this is the 1940s: ‘Eugenics for all! Abort your baby today. The Brave New World is only for the perfect,” exclaimed one user.

“Last time I checked Down Syndrome is not a birth defect. Do better!” demanded another, who added: “There is nothing that can be done to prevent it from occurring. Oh wait, let me guess… abortions. God help us. They are a blessing to us from God. This is part of why I cannot take you seriously.”

Yet another user said: “The World Health Organization justice described children with Down Syndrome as having a birth defect. Down is a genetic condition that presents some medical issues but to use the word ‘defect’ in connection with these astounding creations of God provides red meat to eugenicists.”

Far from defective, horrified parents were quick to tell the WHO that their children are perfect just the way they are.

Susan Sucher, whose daughter Stephanie has Down Syndrome, wrote, “#DownSyndrome is not a defect. It is a gift. #SweetStep is perfect just the way God made her.”

“It’s time for @WHO to stop labeling people created in teh image of God as having a defect!” tweeted Chris G. Neeley. “My son with Down Syndrome was woven perfectly by our Creator. I love him just the way he is!”

But arguably the most powerful response to the WHO came from Houston Vandergriff, a 24-year-old travel photographer, entrepreneur, and social media influencer who happens to be “rocking an extra chromosome.”

“Am I a ‘common severe birth defect’ …?” Vandergriff tweeted. “@WHO your hurtful opinion is based on old, outdated stereotypes. Please revise your information! Lives are depending on it.”

There was further controversy over WHO apparently amending their message on Facebook, but not on Twitter:

Melissa Fine


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