Just 18 babies with Down syndrome were born in Denmark last year as prenatal testing introduced in 2004 continues to lead to a staggeringly high abortion rate for children diagnosed with the genetic disorder.
Michelle Sie Whitten, who heads up the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, attributes the development not to the free tests, but rather to a eugenic mindset she says has become commonplace in the industrialized world.
"These clinicians [advising mothers to abort Down babies] are good people," she said. "They're uneducated. They're unaware. They just don't know any better. It's our job to educate them."
Whitten points to the fact that though the abortion rate for those with Down syndrome is going up, life for those born with the condition has remarkably improved. Life expectancy has surged from 28 to 60 years, and the majority of the syndrome's worst consequences are now treatable.
Whitten also argues that the fight for people with Down syndrome does not need to be an emotional debate over abortion.
"I think that for us, we have an inclusive policy," she said. "We have tons of people who are pro-life and pro-choice, all supporting children with Down syndrome. We've walked that line by saying we're pro-information and anti-eugenics."
Though the abortion rate in Denmark demonstrates the uphill battle, Whitten remains convinced that a "majority of people want to accept all people from all walks of life." The key, she said, is making sure that the public is exposed to Down syndrome individuals enough to realize they matter too.