The young man greeted our party warmly as we walked through the door of a neighborhood restaurant. He approached his tasks with diligence and grace, and made us feel welcomed and special.
The gentleman happened to have an extra chromosome. This did not matter, and should not matter, in a civilized society which respects disability rights.
But the fact of the matter is that the abortion rate for preborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome is extraordinarily high. In fact, it is estimated that most of these precious babies are aborted.
This is the strange dichotomy that faces us as we mark Down Syndrome Awareness Month this October of 2021. On the one hand, the opportunities for employment, education, and social interaction for people with Down syndrome have expanded in the past few decades. On the other hand, these individuals continue to face the ultimate form of discrimination through abortion.
The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome is now more than 60 years of age—a vast improvement over decades past. And yet, so many individuals with an extra chromosome are never allowed the chance at life. This cruelty against a defenseless population must come to an end.
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Legislation such as Chloe’s Law, a groundbreaking statute in Pennsylvania, must be championed. This measure ensures that pregnant mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome be offered educational materials and support for the special children they hold within their wombs.
Each of us also needs to be part of the educational process. We need to share our experiences of connection with people with Down syndrome. We must bolster a spirit of welcome and inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. We have to shine a spotlight on the incredible contributions people with Down syndrome make to our families, our workplaces, and our communities.
As national disability rights activist Kurt Kondrich, the father of a teenager with Down syndrome, states, we must embrace, not erase, people with Down syndrome. We must live up to the high ideal of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave. For one of the greatest acts of courage in this world is to give birth to an unrepeatable human being, no matter how many chromosomes she has.