The first Gerber baby with Down Syndrome made headlines yesterday. One-year-old Lucas Warren’s photo was selected from submissions numbering 14,000 and is symbolic of a major shift in thinking about children with Down Syndrome in the United States.
Lucas’ selection is one event in a longer line of recent actions amplifying the worth and value of children with Down Syndrome, including the appearance on more major TV characters on mainstream shows, one girl living out her dream as a model, others running businesses and even celebrities like Ashton Kutcher sharing videos like this one, showcasing these individuals light and life:
While abortion rates continue to be far too high when it comes to a Down Syndrome diagnosis, awareness is spreading. High profile blogger and writer Kelle Hampton has helped by spotlighting her daughter, Nella — and heartfelt videos like this one from the writer of the blog, Nothing Down About It:
While reports of Down Syndrome eradication (due to nearly 100% abortion rates after diagnosis) in Iceland filled headlines last year, the United States is hopefully not following suit. Last year I reported on a woman, Gaelynn Lea, who was born with a severe genetic disorder but was overcoming incredible odds to to the life of her dreams. Of genetic testing, she said this:
“The idea of genetic testing and taking babies out pre-term, it’s sort of saying, you obviously don’t on some level think of my life as valuable.”
As a mom of two, I’ve had basic genetic testing done for both of my babies, but not with the intention of making a radical decision were the results to show something concerning. I did so in order to prepare myself if something were abnormal and would never consider abortion as a “solution” to a problem that was discovered. In this way, I think genetic testing can be helpful but not so when parents are using it as a meter to determine whether to bring their babies to term.
While Down Syndrome is an abnormal condition — a tough diagnosis to face for any parent — it shouldn’t be a death sentence. The parents of the new Gerber baby didn’t know their son had it until he was born and do you think they love him any less because he does? Offering parents the option to abort their children because of Down Syndrome robs them of the opportunity to meet the child you know they would love and cherish, but sometimes jump to termination in the face of fear.
I anticipate more stories like this one coming out as time goes on — and as more families showcase the beauty of life with a child with Down Syndrome. Helping erase the stigma and fear around the diagnosis will lead to more parents choosing life for their babies.
Cheers to the new Gerber baby, a little boy whose smiling face, stands for the right to life for so many others.