HOBBS: How ‘Curing’ Down Syndrome Impoverishes Us All

(Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

Jay Hobbs Alliance Defending Freedom
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Just five years old, Julie Tennant was at the grocery store with her mother when a homeless man walked in. Though Julie’s mother, Barb, stood grappling with an understandable swirl of emotions — pity, protectiveness, and even physical revulsion — Julie’s reaction was much more to the point.

Breaking free from her mother, Julie bolted straight to the stranger, throwing her arms around him in a beautifully unforeseen embrace.

Caught off-guard by the whole scene, Barb moved to pry her daughter off the haggard man. Half apologizing for Julie’s impulsiveness, Barb was already visualizing the bath her child would need the instant they got home. That’s when the man’s words stopped Barb in her tracks.

“Lady,” he said. “I can’t tell you the last time somebody wanted to hold me.”

Though Julie has since grown into adulthood, moments like this are every bit as common in her world today as when she was a child. For Julie, the world is not made up of outsiders and insiders, just a mix of friends she’s met and friends she hasn’t had a chance to embrace quite yet.

Born with Down syndrome, Julie lives a far more uninhibited life than those around her — so much so that her grandfather once dubbed the biological reality underlying her condition as “the Love Chromosome.” The label stuck, and as anyone who’s had the chance to meet Julie will tell you, it’s a fitting term of endearment.

Today in the U.S., over 400,000 children and adults live with Down syndrome. Strikingly — though not at all surprising if you have friends like Julie — 99 percent of these men, women, boys, and girls say they are happy with their lives, while 97 percent say they like who they are. As a rule, when you meet someone with Down syndrome, you’ll find a person who exudes joy, kindness, and a sense of wisdom that transcends circumstances and natural limitations.

Sadly, there are some whose vision of a perfect world — a concept that once went by now-defunct names like “eugenics” or “social hygiene” — includes the complete annihilation of people with Down syndrome. In 2017, several news outlets profiledIceland for “curing” Down syndrome in its country, an “achievement” that was noticed throughout Europe and North America.

Only slightly outpaced by Iceland, the same news reports noted the nation of Denmark boasts a 98 percent “success” rate of combatting Down syndrome, while France and the U.S. have reduced Down syndrome in their countries by 77 percent and 67 percent, respectively.

Of course, there is no cure or treatment for Down syndrome, so when you hear about Down syndrome cases trending downward, you have to supply the word “abortion” to understand what is really going on. The inescapable truth is that the majority of children like Julie are diagnosed within the womb and summarily aborted for no other reason than their Down syndrome.

This irreversible, lethal form of discrimination doesn’t make the world richer, but it does match the animating motives of groups like Planned Parenthood — whose founder famously championed birth control as “the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives.”

Planned Parenthood’s modern-day torchbearers have stayed true to the mission. Acting on the misguided belief that any human being — as unfit as we all are in one way or another — has the right to declare another person “defective” and authorize their death, today’s abortion lobby steadfastly and openly resists even the most minimal protections for unborn children with Down syndrome.

In one case that the Supreme Court is still deciding whether it will take up this term, Planned Parenthood has sued to try and strike down an Indiana law that, in part, would “prohibit abortions motivated solely by the race, sex or disability of the fetus.”

That case, Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, is emblematic of a full-fledged campaign to normalize the elimination of Down syndrome babies via abortion. Backing up the courtroom and legislative battle to eradicate the Down syndrome population, the Washington Post published a full-length op-ed from a mother who stated flatly that she would have aborted her own baby if she had received a Down syndrome diagnosis. And that is now just one of many variations on the same theme.

It shouldn’t take a heart-warming anecdote to drive home the point that people with Down syndrome belong in our society. Five minutes with Julie reminds us that every innocent life should be protected and celebrated. No one should ever find themselves the target of able-bodied adults who deem their lives unworthy of living.

Like the rest of us, Planned Parenthood and other supporters of abortion should take a lesson from the homeless man in 5-year-old Julie’s embrace — the world is a far richer place with folks like Julie in it.

Jay Hobbs is deputy director of media communications for Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Indiana’s law prohibiting abortions motivated solely by the race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.

 The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.