"My life is worth living"

Imagine you are looking for a job and you have to call in for an interview and instead of your typical interview questions they ask your weight. If you are too overweight or underweight, the interview is over because they are only looking for a person with perfectly average weight. Would you think this is fair? Of course not,  now what if the question was about your gender, race, religion or IQ?  Would that be right? Of course not judging someones ability to do a job based on these facts is clearly discrimination. We would never say this would be right in the workplace. But why when a woman is laying on the ultrasound table, and the doctor says your child has Down Syndrome this logic is thrown out the window. This is not a job interview to give us a better life this is a matter of life and death, and yet it is dismissed as the mothers right to choose. According to a new study conducted by Gert de Graaf, Frank Buckley, and Brian Skotko and recently published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics estimates that abortion following a prenatal diagnosis of DS results in a 30% reduction in overall DS births. Jamie Natoli, et al., proposed another statistic that correlates well with this study. In a 2012 publication in Prenatal Diagnosis, their research calculated a weighted mean across the U.S. of a 67% termination rate following prenatal diagnosis.[1]
Although this is less than the typically circulating 90% rate, you often hear quoted it is still far too high. And in other countries like Denmark and Iceland statistics are actually closer to 100% termination of children diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome.  So, if abortion laws are unlikely to change how can we make a difference? How can we change peoples mind so when they hear the words your baby has Down Syndrome they continue with the pregnancy? I think the best path is to introduce people to individuals living with Down Syndrome, give them an opportunity to advocate for themselves and their friends.  Let them get past the first impression so others can get to know them and maybe see things differently.  This is one of the reasons I share our families story on social media, and I share the stories of my friends raising children with Down Syndrome. This is why I wanted to introduce you to Frank Stephens who is my newest hero; he is an actor, an advocate, and adult living with Down Syndrome. Last week he spoke at a Congressional hearing urging Congress to fund crucial research on Down syndrome and how it links to Alzheimer’s.  Listen to his words, and I dare you not to be grown and changed. I hope my boys don't have to grow up defending their existence. I hope we can all one day agree on a fundamental truth that all human life is precious and worthy but until then I will join Frank and the millions of people living with Down Syndrome around the globe  declaring their worth and dignity.


“Let me say that I am not a research scientist,” Stephens began, “however, no one here knows more about life with Down syndrome than I do. Whatever you learn today please remember this: I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living.”

“Across the world,” he said, “a notion is being sold that maybe we don’t need research concerning Down syndrome. Some people say pre-natal screenings will identify Down syndrome in the womb, and those pregnancies will just be terminated.”

Stephens paused, saying “it is hard for me to sit here and say those words. Let’s be clear, I completely understand that the people pushing that particular ‘final solution’ are saying that people like me should not exist. They are saying that we have too little value to exist.”


This is part of his transcript(obtained from Www.townhall.com)

  Gert de Graaf, Frank F. Buckley, Brian G. Skotko. (2015), Estimates of the live births, natural losses, and elective terminations with down syndrome in the United States.

 

Rachel Baxter