Guest Column

UN Human Rights review ignores Iceland’s 100% Down syndrome abortion rate

United Nations, euthanasia, iceland, UN

(C-Fam – Geneva) It was Iceland’s turn to have its human rights record reviewed by other UN member states on Tuesday.  The Nordic country, which has faced scrutiny for its extremely high rate of selective abortion of children with Down syndrome, was urged to combat this discrimination, and to increase support for all persons with disabilities.

Iceland drew international headlines in 2017 when CBS News reported that Iceland had come close to “eradicating Down syndrome births.”  The resulting outrage prompted the nation’s government to issue a statement clarifying that there was not a government policy to eliminate Down syndrome.  Nevertheless, the evidence of a discriminatory cultural standard was clear from the stark data that showed nearly 100% of children with the diagnosis were aborted.

At a UN human rights meeting on Tuesday in Geneva, only two governments criticized Iceland on the question of Down syndrome.  The delegate from the Philippines said Iceland should “take immediate and effective steps to combat discrimination against persons with disabilities, particularly those with Down syndrome and strengthen public awareness campaigns to uphold their rights and provide comprehensive support and assistance to concerned persons and their families.”

READ: Down syndrome rights advocate Katie Shaw speaks at March for Life

Iran also specifically called on Iceland to address discrimination against persons with Down syndrome.

The criticism was part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a human rights mechanism in which every country in the UN system undergoes a human rights checkup by its fellow members and receives specific recommendations on how it can improve its record.  These recommendations are not binding, and the recipient country subsequently responds to each in turn by either “supporting” or “noting” it…

Read entire article at C-Fam.

Editor’s Note: Rebecca Oas, Ph.D. writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute ( This article appears with permission.”

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