A new Mother’s Day advertisement from Hallmark focuses on a mother raising a daughter who has Down syndrome — and their normal life.
As the daughter reads a note she wrote her mother in a voiceover, the camera shows us their lives from the daughter’s birth to when she is grown. From bath time to learning to walk and learning to tie her shoes… to prom, work, and graduation, the timeline looks just like that of any mother and child.
“Dear Mom, You taught me so much: that practice makes perfect, and perfect is overrated,” she says. “Thank you for holding me when it hurt, and sharing your sense of wonder and humor, for knowing when to stay close and when to let me go. You’ve always seen my beauty, my hard work and never underestimate what I can do. I am who I am because of you.”
Like many Hallmark commercials, this one is a tearjerker, but it has a deeper meaning with the knowledge that about 67 percent of people diagnosed before birth with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. That number is even higher in other countries, including France, where 80 percent of preborn children with Down syndrome are killed by abortion.
Many of these mothers say that receiving their child’s diagnosis was a negative experience. Astoundingly, 13 percent of doctors admit that they focus on scare tactics to get mothers to choose abortion. When a woman feels pressured to abort a wanted baby, she is at a higher risk of suffering abortion trauma which has been linked to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Countless mothers have lost the opportunity and joy of raising their loved and wanted children because of an abortion that they were pressured into after a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
In 2016, a video showcasing individuals with Down syndrome was banned by French television because judges ruled it might upset women who aborted their babies because of Down syndrome. The Council of State ruled that the pro-life film could “disturb the conscience of the women who, in accordance with the law, have made personal life choices.”
But if those so-called “personal life choices” to end their children’s lives were based on the discriminatory and eugenic beliefs of others, then seeing such a film might help them move forward and help other women facing a similar situation choose life. The video was viewed on YouTube more than seven million times. Michelle Sie Whitten, president of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation called the decision to ban it “shocking” and “offensive.”
Women and couples receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome deserve the truth – not fear tactics by doctors in the hopes that they will abort their children because of a diagnosis. Commercials and videos that show the reality of people with Down syndrome living their lives are vital in establishing equal human rights for people with disabilities. These hope-filled messages can save the lives of people with Down syndrome and save their mothers from a lifetime of regret.
Editor’s Note, 5/11/20: This article incorrectly listed the name of the president of the GDSF. This has been corrected.
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