Children with Down syndrome face discrimination before they are even born.
Researchers estimate between 60 percent and 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. In other countries, the deadly discrimination rate is nearly 100 percent, and many families say they felt pressured to abort their unborn babies by doctors and genetic counselors.
But parents, disability and pro-life advocates, and Christians are fighting back, working to create a society that values and cherishes every child’s life.
“All life is precious, no matter the label or syndrome attached. We must speak up and defend life because all life bears the image of God,” Herbie Newell wrote at The Christian Post this week in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day.
Newell spoke about a young man he knows named Sam who has the chromosomal disorder. A typical teenager in many ways, he said Sam loves to go to school events, listen to music, eat junk food and hang out with friends. But the young man also has a unique ability.
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“… he can remember most people’s names, making his fellow peers feel special and seen — it’s a gift that’s needed in the oftentimes-lonely world of Gen Z,” Newell said.
That gift easily could have been destroyed 18 years ago when doctors told Sam’s parents to abort him. But they recognized what the doctors did not, that their son already was a unique and valuable human being who deserved a right to life.
Many Christians recognize that, too, and feel called to adopt children with special needs. Newell, the president of Lifeline Children’s Services, the largest Evangelical Christian adoption agency in the United States, said his agency has a number of families waiting to adopt children with Down syndrome, both in the U.S. and internationally.
“As a society, we have lost our way when we fail to see the dignity and value of every single human being, no matter what condition, syndrome, or disorder they bear,” Newell continued. “When we classify others and deem their inherent worth according to their IQ or productivity rather than their God-given intrinsic value, we diminish the humanity of every individual placed on this planet.”
He urged more Christians to take action by opening their homes to people with special needs or supporting other families who do, maybe by offering them a respite or a meal.
“In serving those deemed vulnerable, we are creating a world where every person is celebrated, honored, and valued — just the way God made them,” Newell said.