“Take your time, but don’t wait too long if you decide you want to terminate.” That’s what I was told when Hannah, who we had already been told had a high likelihood of having Down syndrome, was diagnosed with hydrops fetalis at 12 weeks. I was all too familiar with the grim odds a baby with hydrops had at survival; I had lost my son just a few months prior, to the same diagnosis. I didn’t need to be reminded that my baby girl was probably not going to survive, and this doctor knew it. He was, after all, the same one who had told me my son was going to pass away as well. Yet, he didn’t offer words of hope, or encouragement, he merely told me that I had a small window of opportunity to end my baby’s life if I chose to do so. The thought never crossed my mind. Not because I am an amazing person, or because I am better than someone who has thought of, or had an abortion; I am made whole and pure only through Christ. The thought never crossed my mind because I believe in the preciousness of life; all life, not just life that’s “convenient.”
Having been a part of the Down Syndrome community for over 2 years now, I have seen the reasoning and excuses that pour forth when discussing the termination of a baby who likely has Down syndrome. I have seen people declare that only certain people are able to properly care for a baby with Down syndrome. I have seen people say that it’s merciful to end the life of a baby who has Down syndrome. Even worse, I’ve heard the argument that the world is over populated, so it’s better for everyone to end the life of anyone who can’t take care of themselves, anyone who’s not “normal.” This is the rhetoric that people shout about those with Down syndrome, about my child. I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. It hurts to see how little people value my child, how little potential they see in her.
It hurts that people, a lot of people, think she would be better off dead.
For some, it may be easy to get caught up in the terminology and the taglines. “It’s merciful,” “You’re sparing them from a poor quality of life,” “Not everyone can care for a child with special needs,” “It’s not a baby, it’s a clump of cells,” “They’re a burden on society.” I am here to say, that Hannah is the same child now, at the age of almost 2, as she was at 12 weeks gestation. If I had listened to the doctor, believed there was no hope my baby would survive, and ended her life, it would be the same as ending her life now. There is no difference. I would have ended the life of a little girl, who has survived and thrived. I would have ended the life of a little girl who has brought immeasurable joy to so many people; not just family and friends.
Looking at Hannah, most people would find it inconceivable to even think that a doctor suggested ending her life, but only because she is here, they can see her, they can see all that she has accomplished. If everyone would take a minute to consider the potential every unborn child has, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to say it’s no big deal to kill them out of convenience, fear, or whatever it may be.
Genocide is defined as, “The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a ethnic group or nation.” We, as a nation, are choosing, and even encouraging the murder of people with Down syndrome simply because they are not exactly the same as the majority. If this isn’t genocide, then I don’t know what is. When other countries start touting their accomplishment of almost eliminating an entire group of people, it’s well past the time to start having serious conversations driven by facts, instead of emotions and conjecture. We, as a people, have crossed a line that should have never existed. Very few people will say what Hitler did in Europe was acceptable, yet we have a modern day holocaust happening right here, right now and so many are doing nothing about it, or worse, they are going along with it. They are turning a blind eye because, “It’s a woman’s right to choose.” What about the little women who are being murdered every day? Where is her right to choose? Where is her voice?
This movement is not about choice, it is about convenience, fear, and hate. Convenience because some aspects of taking care of a child with Down syndrome require self-sacrifice. Fear, because people fear what they think may be difficult. They fear the unknown, they fear difference. And hate, because ultimately, it is the hatred of anything different, challenging, and selfless that drives this genocide, and has allowed it to continue for far too long.
There is nothing to fear or hate about Down syndrome. There may be challenges, but these pale when compared to the joy, love, and self-growth experienced from having a child with Down syndrome. Embrace the challenge, love difference, and experience the joy people with Down syndrome bring this world.