Almost seven years ago, my brother died. He had Down syndrome. He was alive for only eighteen short weeks, but that short amount of time showed me that truly all life is precious.
As one of six living children at the time, I was elated when my parents told us Robert was on his way. I was almost twelve years old. A week later, though, we received the news that Robert would have Down syndrome. We were sad at first, but really more unsure of what the future would hold. As a family open to life, we would welcome a new sibling no matter what. Soon after this, the time came for Robert to leave us behind as God called him home.
In the years since Robert’s time on earth, I’ve learned more about Down Syndrome and grown to love the incredible stories I hear of people defying the odds against them. However, the wonderful stories are darkened by the silent slaughter of those who could have been the next person with Down Syndrome to defy the odds. The most sobering statistic I discovered is that over 90% of unborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. Let that sink in. For every one person born with Down Syndrome, nine others just like him were purposefully aborted. This is a tragedy.
I’ve never known a person with Down Syndrome very well, but odds are that I should have already. So many members of my generation have been aborted, though, that the next generation is rapidly shrinking. This is a tragedy not only because we are losing people, but also because we are losing some of the most loving people in America. Smiles and laughter are both contagious, and people with Down syndrome are often overflowing with both. How sad that our country is missing out on this joy shown in the following video from the International Down Syndrome Coalition to commemorate Word Down Syndrome Day.
Our society often shuns people like my brother Robert who don’t fit the cookie-cutter version of perfect. But it’s the unique qualities of each person that make our society thrive. These different qualities never make us worthy or unworthy of life. It’s just who we are. People who have Down syndrome are different from what our society views as “normal,” but inside, they’re just like you and me.
They are siblings. They are employees. They are loved. They are beautiful. And they deserve to live.