99 Percent of People With Down Syndrome Say They’re Happy With Their Lives

International   |   Rebecca Downs   |   Jun 11, 2014   |   10:34AM   |   Washington, DC

A recent “A Point of View” piece from BBC News makes an inspiring but still realistic point about the “disability paradox.” The author of the piece, Tom Shakespeare, speaks himself as someone who is disabled and argues that “…in fact we’re wrong” when “we imagine it must be miserable to be disabled.” He also points to research that people with disabilities show a quality of life that is as good or even better than those without disabilities.

Perhaps this is because those with disabilities, while certainly facing challenges, which the author does address, are better able to appreciate the blessings they have. After all, life itself, is a blessing.

downsyndrome3bShakespeare also addresses the arguments of the “happy slave” in that people with disabilities are happy because they don’t know better. He rightly so refers to them as “…patronising, not to say insulting. More importantly they’re wrong.” And certainly the proposed reason is a lot more dignified.

Towards the conclusion of the piece, Shakespeare does mention “…that in general, disabled people usually have fewer choices than non-disabled people.” But he also begins his concluding paragraph with the reminder that “[m]ere existence entails problems.”

Shakespeare wishes to leave his reader with the a reminder so that we may be less prejudiced against those with disability. Although the concept of aborting those diagnoses with disabilities is not mentioned specifically by Shakespeare, one can certainly use the general theme of his piece arguing against abortion for such a reason.

The justification used when aborting babies with such diagnoses is mentioned in the very first paragraph of the piece. About thinking to ourselves as to if we’d rather be dead than disabled and that “[d]isability, in everyday thought, is associated with failure, with dependency and with not being able to do things.” But such reasons are hardly a justification for an abortion, especially ones which occur late in term as a result of when the diagnosis is available and when the unborn child can feel pain.

And those who abort their children thinking it to be more merciful are doing no favors when their pain capable child suffers a cruel and torturous death from abortion. Even if the child will die soon after death, at least the time they spent outside their mother’s womb is a life that is dignified and respected and one which results in a natural death.

The BBC piece features an image of a young girl who has Down Syndrome. Over 90 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. Yet the quality of life of those who are lucky enough to make it to being born hardly reflects abortion being justified. Those themselves with Down Syndrome express being happy, with even 99 percent saying that they are. Parents were told that they were a “lucky couple,” that their child would be happy, and to expect “beauty in imperfections.” Those who are parents of children with Down Syndrome have come forth to share their joy, as have siblings, and a woman who aborted her child with such a diagnosis shared regret.

Certainly raising a child with a disability, especially specific kinds of difficult disabilities is not always easy, but just like life itself isn’t always easy for any of us, the same applies for raising children. Shakespeare mentions prejudice against those with disabilities more than once in his piece. What could be a greater form of prejudice than electing for one’s child to experience such a death?