The United Nations 2017 World Happiness Report ranked Iceland as the third happiest nation in the world for the second time in a row. With a population size of 336, 190 and breathtaking landscape, it is no wonder why Iceland continues to be a popular destination for tourists. However, the happiest country on earth is facing international and national scrutiny regarding a recent report.
According to the Independent, Iceland nearly eradicated cases of Down syndrome births-nationwide. Expectant mothers have the option of undergoing prenatal screening tests to detect whether the fetus has a chromosome abnormality. The Combination Test uses the expectant mother’s age, blood test, and ultrasound as determining factors. Nearly one hundred percent of Icelandic expectant mother that received a positive test terminated their pregnancies.
The inherent Right-to-Life and the practice of eugenics are two of the many arguments posed as a result of this report. According to CBS News, Iceland permits abortion after sixteen weeks if a deformity is detected with Down syndrome included in the category. In addition, Icelanders do not view abortion as murder according to Helga Sol Olafsdottir, who counsels women with pregnancy chromosomal abnormality, in an interview with a CBS News reporter.
It is quite understandable why this report is controversial. However, Icelanders view abortion differently than the United States, for example. Apparently, politicians, health care workers, and citizens of Iceland recognize a woman’s right to her body, therefore, the public will not intervene in regard to family planning. In this matter, the final decision to keep or abort a pregnancy is solely up to the mother and partner. It appears that the majority of expectant mothers uphold their right to choose.
Hafstad, V. (2017, March 20) Icelanders Are World’s Third Happiest. Iceland Review, Retrieved from http://icelandreview.com/news/2017/03/20/icelanders-are-worlds-third-happiest
Maclean, D. (2017, August 16) Iceland close to becoming first country where no Down’s syndrome children are born. Independent, Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/iceland-downs-syndrome-no-children-born-first-country-world-screening-a7895996.html
Quinones, J., Lajka, A. (2017, August 14) “What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing. CBS News, Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/
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Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS
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