Dutch Institute for Public Health Equates Human Worth with Cost to Society

By St. Joseph County Right to Life | December 21, 2017, 12:57pm

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — “So Sjoerd costs us, as a society, forty-eight thousand Euros per year.” The message the video wants to spread is clear: a person’s worth is determined by how much they cost society.

While the video is at first glance a simple informational report, the reality of the video’s message is that a human with Down syndrome is a burden. That a person with Down syndrome has no inherent value, and that the cost to sustain life is what truly matters. The video implies that certain types of life are more valuable than others, simply based on the societal expense of caring for an individual.


At one point in the video, the analyst states that dementia patients and the elderly in nursing homes have a similar cost to society in the Netherlands—subtly raising the idea that these people, too, may have lesser value due to the strain they put on the nation’s purse-strings.


The issue that this video highlights, that of the lives of some being of lesser value than the lives of others, is one that is central to the work of pro-lifers. Our firm belief that all human life is valuable and equal is what motivates us.


For Hoosiers, this issue and its connection with Down syndrome has a special relevance in current legislation. The Sex Selective and Disability Abortion Ban, which provided that abortions in Indiana could not occur based solely on a child’s sex or genetics, was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on September 22nd of this year.


In response to Pratt’s ruling, Indiana officials appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit earlier this year. Additionally, attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of several organizations and advocacy groups: Foundation Jérôme Lejeune, Saving Downs, Down Pride, and Women Speak for Themselves. The groups’ twenty-three page brief argued that the ruling was in fact constitutional, and on its third page, the brief further stated that the ban “promotes the State’s interest in drawing a clear boundary against postnatal eugenic infanticide.”


If the assumption of this video were true in its proposal that some people are of lesser value than others, where is the line drawn? The value of a person becomes a numbers game. If humans with Down syndrome don’t deserve to live because they cost society more than people without an extra chromosome do, what happens if it’s proven that women cost society more than men? Does that mean women are less valuable? What about if short people cost the nation more than those who are taller? Are they worth less? The idea that a person’s value is determined by their net cost is ridiculous and primitive. A human life is priceless, and that is what needs to motivate actions and ethics.