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When most parents hear a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, they’re afraid. They’re afraid of what it might mean for their child, and what it might mean for themselves.
I’m not afraid of Down syndrome. Instead, I’m afraid of what my life might have been had we not been given my little girl Josie. She has an extra copy of chromosome 21. She’s perfect.
My family and I recently traveled to New York City to participate in the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk, part of their fundraising and awareness work across the country. Josie had been chosen for a special honor this year: Her picture would appear on a jumbotron in Times Square, as part of the event.
When her face appeared, we all cheered for her, but she didn’t care. She was busy trying to get lost in the crowd with her siblings. She’s 3 years old. And like every 3-year-old, she wanted to play on the stairs.
Later, I walked through Central Park with the rest of this year’s Buddy Walk participants. I carried her, just like I had done at last year’s walk. And just like last year, she quickly fell asleep on my chest.
I walked and I thought about her life. I reflected on all the joy she’s brought those who know her or meet her. I walked and I thought about how many babies with Down syndrome are aborted: around 67%, though the estimated range is wide and difficult to track.
These abortions don’t just end a “pregnancy,” they end a human life. If Josie didn’t exist, nobody would be able to laugh when she spotted herself in a New York window and broke out into dance. Nobody would be able to play with her toes and laugh at her giggles. Nobody could wave, smile or take delight in her.
This is the cost of abortion. Babies just like Josie, killed every day before they have a chance to take their first breath. People like the 25-year-old young man with Down syndrome dancing unabashedly in the middle of the park with his parents, wiped out in utero because of a frightening diagnosis.
But the world is better with Josie in it. It is so much brighter with her here, for my family and for so many others. It is better with every baby in it, precisely because of who that baby is.
That’s true whether or not a baby has Down syndrome. It’s true whether or not someone goes on to cure cancer or fly to the moon. It’s true regardless of a baby’s medical complexity.
That’s not to say that parenting a child with Down syndrome is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard. Just during our brief trip to New York, it struck me how Josie might seem like a burden to those who didn’t know her. She had to be carried to ensure she didn’t walk in front of cars. She walked into people on the sidewalks, and struggled up and down stairs.
But these difficulties shouldn’t be a death sentence. They’re just difficulties — and we can either choose to fear them, or to overcome them.
Yet under the guise of “women’s health care” or “women’s rights,” pro-abortionists have convinced vast swaths of the American public that it’s OK to kill babies like Josie. In fact, many of those who abort babies diagnosed with Down syndrome consider it a “mercy killing.”
I don’t just mourn for those lost children. I mourn for the love those parents have lost. I mourn the joy and goodness that has forever left their lives. I mourn these things, and I hold my Josie close.
I will never forget seeing her face in Times Square. I will never forget holding her close and safe, surrounded by a nationwide community of her biggest cheerleaders, in a state where people like her are so frequently aborted. I will never forget watching her dance in a room of mirrors, surrounded by the New York skyline at One Vanderbilt Avenue.
But without her, there would be nothing to remember at all. And that is what we lose, when a child with Down syndrome is aborted: a human life equal in value to you and I.