Human Rights

Teacher disciplined after Down syndrome remark: ‘I would have killed it’

disability, wrongful birth, abortion ban, down syndrome abortion

A teacher in Auckland, New Zealand, was disciplined after leaving a message on a video posted online by the mother of a child with Down syndrome. The teacher said she would have “killed it,” referring to the child.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the mother of a child with Down syndrome posted a video on TikTok, saying she treats her child the same as any other child. The teacher responded with a comment saying, “Brave. If my test came back with that I would have killed it. If I were I’d want mum to do the same.”

Neither woman was named by the Herald.

The mother of the child with Down syndrome told the Herald that the comment was, understandably, “very hurtful,” and that while she expects to hear such things from teenagers, she was shocked to see a teacher leave such a comment.

After receiving pushback, the teacher tried to defend herself. “You have taken my message the wrong way,” she wrote. “I said you were brave and meant it. I couldn’t do it! I had the test while pregnant and had the talk about options. I couldn’t do it and think you are brave.”

READ: Doctors said baby with Down syndrome would die, told mom to abort before confirmed diagnosis

The mother refused to accept the apology, writing back, “I think you’re just mad I called out your disgusting behaviour. I never asked for your unsolicited ableist comment.”

It wasn’t clear how the teacher’s school became involved, but the principal sent a message to families addressing the controversy. “I would like to touch base with families to confirm that we are aware of the post that is currently circulating online,” the message read. “The Board of Trustees and I wish to affirm this is not reflective of our school’s position where we celebrate diversity, difference and inclusion. As you will understand we cannot comment on an individual employee but we can say that we have robust processes to deal with concerns.”

Despite the lip service paid to celebrating inclusion, New Zealand has, on multiple occasions, denied residency for minor immigrants with Down syndrome, even when the children’s parents were specifically recruited for jobs there. The government deemed people with Down syndrome to be a burden and therefore decided that they were not allowed to live there long-term.

When the government itself is publicly declaring that people with Down syndrome are not worthy to live in New Zealand and describes them as burdens, is it any surprise that ableist comments encouraging eugenic abortion flourish?

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