Negative perceptions of Down syndrome are pervasive. And a new video, created by a mother whose son has Down syndrome, illustrates the negative messages people constantly hear about Down syndrome. But she also shows how positive and normal life with a child who has Down syndrome is, and how those messages are not even the slightest bit accurate. The video, created for World Down Syndrome Day 2016, features quotes from people talking about “suffering” from Down syndrome, or how people should “abort it and try again.” The messages are heartbreaking, especially as they’re interspersed with images of a happy child with Down syndrome.
Parents routinely receive the diagnosis with cruelty and callousness. A study found that parents reported having a negative experience at a 2.5 to 1 ratio — so for every 100 parents that had a positive experience receiving their Down syndrome diagnosis, 250 had a negative one. In addition to this, society tells us that Down syndrome is to be feared. Richard Dawkins notoriously said that it is immoral not to abort babies with Down syndrome. Pro-abortion radicals get angry when babies with Down syndrome are adopted instead of aborted. Writers have called Down syndrome broken DNA. Multiple politicians have said that abortions for babies with Down syndrome should be mandatory, or that they should be “put down.” Even Dr. Phil advocated for the mercy killing of people with disabilities. USA Today opposed a 20-week abortion ban because people wouldn’t be able to abort babies with Down syndrome.
Multiple studies have found that these negative perceptions are false. The overwhelming majority of parents of children with Down syndrome report feeling more happy and fulfilled because of their child with Down syndrome. Siblings report loving their brother or sister with Down syndrome and that they made them a better person. The vast majority of people with Down syndrome say that they are happy with themselves and with their lives. Thanks to medical advances, people with Down syndrome are able to accomplish more now than any other time in history. People with Down syndrome are able to graduate from high school, go to college, own businesses, and get married. Yet the negative perceptions refuse to go away. People still talk about Down syndrome as if it’s some kind of tragedy, and because of that, the abortion rate of preborn babies with Down syndrome is higher than ever.
Who gets to make the decision as to whether someone’s life is worth living or not? Who decides if someone is suffering or not? We refuse to let people discriminate against disability, yet it’s allowed when babies are still in the womb. And rather than insist on accuracy in medicine and for parents to, at the very least, be given the opportunity for informed consent, parents are given usually a negative perception, whether it’s accurate or not, and then pressured into an abortion. This should not be acceptable, ever, yet it happens every day.
Down syndrome should not be a death sentence. These are people who, just like the rest of us, have inherent dignity and value. They laugh and love and lead full lives, and those lives should not be dependent on the ignorance and biases of people in the medical profession with outdated information.