Have you seen pictures of the new Gerber baby?
One-year-old Lucas Warren from Georgia is the picture of
happiness. His grin lights up the room. Lucas also has Down syndrome.
Lucas’ new title of “Gerber Spokesbaby” is a great win for a
community forced to overcome huge obstacles just to be born—let alone have
their existence celebrated.
After all, an in-utero diagnosis of Down syndrome most often
results in death—and not because there’s something particularly deadly about
Down syndrome. In the U.S., the percentage of babies with Down syndrome who are
aborted is about 67 percent. Worldwide, that number can get even higher.
Last August, CBSN: On Assignment did a segment on abortion
rates of babies with Down syndrome in Iceland—nearly 100 percent. Here’s how
the network promoted the segment on Twitter.
The network’s failure to acknowledge that it was children
with Down syndrome who were being eliminated, and not the chromosomal disorder
itself, was condemned by many who were quick to correct the misstep—like
actress Patricia Heaton.
And for good reason. Tiptoeing around the reality
that children with Down syndrome are more often aborted than not is
dangerous—and comes at a deadly cost.
Consider for a minute how history has treated
people with Down syndrome—and how far the community has come despite all the
challenges they’ve faced.
According to the National Association
for Down Syndrome, in the early 1900s, most
children who were born with Down syndrome were institutionalized—wasting away
in horrific conditions. As recently as the early 1980s, the average life
expectancy for a person with Down syndrome was 25. Today, that number has
jumped to 60 years of age.
People with Down syndrome are living fuller, healthier,
happier lives than ever before. We see it all around us. The Special Olympics,
the child models with Down syndrome, viral videos of young adults with Down
syndrome being asked to prom or being accepted into college. Individuals with
Down syndrome are speaking out in front of state and federal legislatures testifying
to their own value and happiness. And yes, even becoming the face of a national
baby food brand.
All that progress, and yet, the statistics are still overwhelmingly in
favor of abortion.
Iceland and the U.S. are just part of the story. In Britain, it’s 90
percent. In France, it’s 77 percent. In Denmark, 98 percent of babies who are
diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Worldwide, children with Down
syndrome continue to be aborted en masse.
That’s why it’s time to calling out this atrocity for what
it really is. This community of people cannot afford any weakness on our part
in acknowledging the real horror of what is happening to them. Their lives are
on the line.
opinion writer George F. Will hit the nail on the head—this is genocide. This is the systematic
elimination of people with Down syndrome. And it is tragic.
We must shine light on this darkness if we are going to put an end to this tragedy and truly affirm that the lives of people with Down syndrome are
precious gifts. The viral videos and spokesbaby titles are a step in the right
direction, but they are not enough. We must call out those who are encouraging
and facilitating this genocide.
That’s why when Planned
Parenthood fights efforts to make it illegal to abort a baby because he or she
has Down syndrome, you call them out.
That’s why when people like Richard Dawkins say
that children with Down syndrome are better off if they are aborted, you
call him out.
That’s why you don’t gloss over genocide with a talking
point about Iceland “eliminating Down syndrome” like doctors made some amazing
medical discovery. You call them out for what they are really doing.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day. And while I am incredibly
thankful for the progress, there is so much more work to be done. We cannot say
that individuals with Down syndrome are valued and respected in our culture
when our society is guilty of ending their lives at such alarming rates.
So yes, let’s celebrate the lives that add so much joy to
those around them. Let’s put their faces on TV and on social media and give
them a platform to speak out and educate. But let’s also fight for these lives.
Our culture will be better off for it.