It could “disturb the conscience of women who, in accordance with the law, have made personal life choices”, the court in France ruled last November. What might “disturb” their consciences? The answer is an ad which tells mothers carrying a Down Syndrome baby in their wombs that life with a Down Syndrome child can be positive and happy.
The ruling by the Council of State upheld a previous decision by the French Broadcasting Council to ban the ad which was produced by the Italian Down Syndrome Advocacy organization CoorDown for World Down Syndrome Day in 2014.
When the ban was imposed, it was pointed out that no other country had taken this action and that the ad, a short film really, has won numerous awards including six Cannes Lions at the prestigious Cannes Festival of Creativity in France itself. (Click here to watch the excellent two-minute video).
The ban was appealed by the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, which specialises in the treatment of children with genetic abnormalities, and the Council of State turned down the appeal in the words quoted above.
The Foundation, with the help of the European Centre for Law and Justice has now appealed that ruling to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Let’s see what happens.
In the meantime, the justification of the Council of State is worth dwelling on, the justification that the short film could “disturb the conscience of women who, in accordance with the law, have made personal life choices”.
The ‘life choice’ in this case is to abort a Down Syndrome baby, which is what 80pc of French women do when they hear their child has the condition. Once again, we see how ‘choice’ is elevated to the ultimate good, a good that cannot ever be questioned, not even on behalf of a category of human being that is basically being ‘genetically cleansed’ from the face of the Earth.
The justification used by the Council is even more chilling than the recent remark by the Dutch Health Minister that, “If freedom of choice results in a situation that nearly no children with Down Syndrome are being born, society should accept that”.
The Council of State says that not only should we accept it, but no-one must be disturbed about the matter. In other words, and to the greatest extent possible, we must not debate it. Our sacred choices, especially when they result in death, must go unchallenged.
Is this the path Ireland wants to follow? It is certainly the path the Citizens’ Assembly wants us to follow. It voted 80/20 in favour of aborting children with genetic abnormalities like Down Syndrome. No significant pro-choice organisation criticised this vote. It is now incumbent upon the Government to explain how any liberalisation it wishes to make to our abortion law will stop the aborting of Down Syndrome children both now and into the future.
If it will not do this, then we will have to assume that even if it isn’t happy to preside over the virtual elimination from our society of Down Syndrome children, it isn’t about to do anything to stop it. That’s almost worse than approving it because it is more cowardly.