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February 15, 2010

Why the Olympics Make Me


Ashamed of America
Ian Hugh Patterson
ipatterson@gmail.com

Today a Canadian won Olympic gold, and today I am ashamed of America––not because we
failed to find a place on the medal podium, but because of those we’ve robbed of their chance.

Today millions of people were on the edge of their seats as Alex Bilodeau won his bid for
Olympic gold in mogul skiing. While fans in Vancouver were screaming and hugging, the
cameras panned over to capture a priceless moment: Bilodeau’s little brother, who stood
throughout the event despite the limits of his Cerebral Palsy, celebrating on the sidelines. It was
unbelievably moving.

Choking back tears, the gold medalist talked about his brother just moments later saying how
much he owed him: “He is my inspiration. Growing up with handicapped family really puts
things in perspective.”

I couldn’t agree with Bilodeau more--my own little brother was born with Down Syndrome--and
today more than ever, I find that people are in desperate need of a new perspective on those with
disabilities.

As you’ve probably observed, side-by-side with the Olympics also comes inspiring images of the
Special Olympics, as athletes with severe handicaps also compete for gold. Ads by sponsors like
Coca-Cola show people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities joyfully receiving medals as
their families look on.

But what the Olympic hubbub doesn’t show is the infuriating hypocrisy behind these inspiring
moments.

Let me explain by way of a statistic you should read slowly: 90% of babies diagnosed with
Down Syndrome are aborted1. Now brace yourself for another mind-blower: 50% of these
aborted babies are false positives and never even had Down Syndrome2.

1Termination rates after prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, spina bifida, anencephaly, and Turner and
Klinefelter syndromes: a systematic literature review. Retrieved on February 15, 2009, from
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/65500197/abstract
2 Wrongful deaths and rightful lives – screening for Down Syndrome. Retrieved on February 15, 2009,
from http://www.down-syndrome.org/editorials/2087/

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February 15, 2010

This tragedy isn’t exclusive to Down Syndrome babies, but also includes many other prenatal
diagnoses for which doctors recommend terminating pregnancies. In many cases, doctors fail to
counsel parents about any option other than abortion. A 2007 study showed that 33% of mothers
who aborted a pregnancy due to a prenatal diagnosis were never even counseled about the option
of keeping the baby3.

The situation has gotten so severe that Congress recently weighed in. In 2008, two of the
Senate’s most liberal and conservative voices––Ted Kennedy and Sam Brownback––united to
write and pass the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, legally
forcing doctors to factually inform parents how capable and independent a Down Syndrome or
similarly disabled child would be, rather than simply recommending an abortion.

What do these statistics tell us? They say to me that for all our fanfare about the inspiring stories
of athletes and families overcoming disabilities, we are hypocrites of the worst kind.

America prides itself as a defender of the disabled and handicapped, but a 90% abortion rate says
we would prefer you had never been born in the first place.

America will laud you at the Special Olympics as an inspiration to us all, but only if you survive
being systematically targeted and eradicated in utero.

America will feature you in a Coca-Cola ad trumpeting our own tolerance and magnanimity
toward you, but only after we play Russian Roulette with our children’s lives, aborting babies
with 50/50 accuracy for a disease you may not even have.

When the Third Reich began systematically killing those with disabilities as subhumans in
Germany, the free world responded with outrage. Just seventy years later, the free world now
finds similar convenience in a different measure of personhoođ–now we just test the number of
your chromosomes and roll the dice on your likelihood of being a burden. But if you make it
even one inch from the womb, then we’ll support and defend you––Coca-Cola may even sponsor
you.

How we treat the weakest of our citizens is the truest expression of our strength as a nation, and I
can think of no one as defenseless as a baby in the womb.

What Olympic medalist Alex Bilodeau knows but America has forgotten, is the inconceivable
value of a single human life––that no matter how broken, every person is the spark of God.

Today a Canadian won Olympic gold, and today I am ashamed of America.

3Maternal decision to terminate pregnancy in case of Down Syndrome, p. 9. Retrieved on February 15,
2009, from http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/dissertations/2006-0621-200023/c9.pdf