5 Years Since NIPT Was Introduced
What It Means to Be Born With a Disorder

Key points in this article:

  • 95% of parents whose prenatal testing shows a disorder choose abortion
  • Japanese Down syndrome calligraphy artist, Shoko Kanazawa, and her mother had to overcome many obstacles
  • Things that seem unhappy at first can turn into the greatest happiness

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), a blood sampling test, can show the chances that a pregnant woman’s child will be born with Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Patau syndrome or DiGeorge syndrome. It has been 5 years since it first became available in various countries around the world in 2013.

NIPT was introduced as a safer and more accurate alternative to amniocentesis and the ultrasound nuchal translucency scan. Over 50,000 pregnant women have used NIPT in Japan so far.

Of the couples whose NIPT test results revealed the likelihood of their child being born with a disorder, 95% chose abortion (in Japan).

A popular Japanese television series from 2017 “Kounodori” also took up the topic of NIPT, and the method has gathered even more attention since. How should we be assessing the mores of using this system?


The Soul Enters the Fetus In Week 9

Most of the couples that are faced with the probability that their unborn child will have a disorder go through a lot of distress and end up choosing abortion. Knowing that rearing a child with a disorder brings a lot of mental, physical and financial strain, they feel they cannot do otherwise.

If we look at this from a spiritual perspective, however, they may rethink this idea.

Happy Science teaches that humans are souls that reside in a body to undergo spiritual training and growth. After death, the soul returns to the spiritual world and after some time, decides to be born again. When a soul chooses to be born, it enters a woman’s fetus in the 9th week of her pregnancy.

If a child is aborted, the soul will incur significant damage. They are lucky if the parents have faith and can pray for the child’s safe return to heaven. But if the parents have no idea about the spiritual truth, the aborted child’s soul cannot return to heaven, and is often left to wander about the family as a ghost.

In other words, from a religious perspective, abortion should be avoided as much as possible regardless of whether or not the child will be born with a disorder.


A Calligraphy Genius With Down Syndrome

NIPT might wipe out Down syndrome, but at the same time this means that we may never see great works of genius like those of the calligraphy artist Shoko Kanazawa.

Shoko’s mother Yasuko was told that her child had Down syndrome when her daughter was 45 days old. When she heard this, she broke down and even considered committing suicide along with her child.

Her husband Yu, however, had known since the moment of the birth that their daughter had Down syndrome. During the delivery the doctor said to Yu, “You’re child has blood poisoning and requires an exchange transfusion; but she has Down syndrome. Will you go forward with it?” to which Yu, being a devout Christian, replied, “God, I accept your challenge”.

Yasuko found hope in her inner conflicts and decided to teach her daughter calligraphy. Her daughter Shoko began calligraphy at age 5 and when she was 10 she managed to copy the Buddhist scripture: the Heart sutra.

When she was 14 she lost her father, and the family was thrown into further misfortune. The mother and daughter, however, found light in the darkness and succeeded in curating an exhibition of Shoko’s works in Ginza when she was 20.

She went on to present her works to various Shrines around Japan, including Ise Shrine, and there are now 4 museums in Japan bearing her name. In 2015 she gave an inspirational speech at the United Nations on World Down Syndrome Day saying that she wants to “cheer people up and give them happiness”.

Her pure hearted desire to bring people joy and happiness may be the secret behind her moving artworks.


The Spirit of Helen Keller

How does a disabled person feel about his or her own life?

Helen Keller is well known for having overcome her disability to bring hope to the people of the world. Her message still rings in the hearts of many: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart”; “A character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can souls be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved”.

In October 2014, Master Ryuho Okawa founder and CEO of Happy Science called upon the spirit of Helen Keller to inquire about her philosophy of happiness. She commented on her life of disability in this way:

“What you consider unhappiness was the source of my happiness”

“Trying to control everything is a grave mistake . . . I am happy that my parents didn’t abort me”

Of course, this does not change the fact that those with disorders and their families go through great suffering. But it is also true that the lives of Shoko and Helen teach us that there is happiness above and beyond suffering.

Each of us has experienced a life of disability at least once in our multitude of earthly incarnations. Those lives teach us how to overcome difficulties to learn great things. We should not try to eradicate disorders from the world. Instead we should learn and value tolerance and love for diversity because that will create a happier world.

5 Years Since NIPT Was Introduced
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