Down syndrome is a challenge for families. Parents face learning difficulties which they are unfamiliar with. Siblings have a brother or sister to whom they are unsure how to relate. It can be even more surprising for pregnant mothers who expected a regular pregnancy. All of her plans, the imagined futures and anticipated joys, suddenly disappear in the face of an unexpected future.
One of the reasons women have abortions is because they believe their child will have poor “quality of life.” On World Down Syndrome Day, it’s important to reject the idea that a life of disability is not a life worth living. Though it’s becoming a less and less popular belief, we at Right to Life of Michigan are proud to uphold the truth that life is good, beautiful, and worth living, regardless of position in society, physical characteristics, and health. Life is a gift, not something to be taken away from those deemed “less worthy” than others. It is true that life can be difficult, but difficult lives require support and love. Our goal should always be to produce flourishing, not to prevent life.
Today, our culture has accepted the idea that the only morality in the universe can be found by doing what you want, no matter the protests of society or people in your life. A pregnant mother whose unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome might consider abortion, and will almost certainly be offered it by her doctors in the name of avoiding a burden or helping her to have a child with a better quality of life. If that mother does have an abortion, society cheers or shrugs. She did the right thing by her standard. She didn’t let anyone else tell her what to do. But if that same mother considers abortion, worried about the uncertain future and the struggles that a child with Down syndrome will bring, and she decides not to abort the baby, society stares in confusion. She thought about abortion. It would have been much easier. Why would she let her desires and chances of a happier, easier life go out the window?
Our culture has taken its cues from nihilistic Nietzsche who believed it was better to kill a cockroach than a butterfly for “aesthetics” sake, who said that to enforce your will on the world was the only moral thing a person could do. We must reject this worldview if we are to value the weak and disabled.
A child with Down syndrome requires a family with exceptional amounts of love and strength. Both child and family will have a different kind of life, with different struggles, different joys, and different ways of experiencing the world. But a different life is not worse than any other life, and it is does not mean that a child with Down syndrome ought never to have been born.
We at Right to Life of Michigan have accumulated many real life stories from people who have overcome disabilities and difficult circumstances. You can read them here on our website: RTL.org/real-life-stories.