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World Down Syndrome Day 2017 celebrates the inherent value and abilities of individuals with Down syndrome

by | Mar 21, 2017

By Marie Smith

The world is facing the loss of an entire group of people who are known for their joy, love and laughter. Today, March 21st, marks World Down Syndrome Day, celebrating the inherent value and abilities of individuals with Down syndrome (DS). Established by the United Nations in 2011, World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated in countries across the globe to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means for those who are diagnosed with it, and the important role individuals with DS play in their communities.

According to the United Nations, the theme for World Down Syndrome Day 2017 is #MyVoiceMyCommunity- Enabling people with Down syndrome to speak up, be heard and influence government policy and action, to be fully included in the community.

Raising awareness is critical in the face of skyrocketing rates of abortion for unborn babies given a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Countries across the world report rates of abortion for babies diagnosed with DS are as high as 90% and 94%, and recently reported, a shocking 100% in Iceland.

Denmark is projected to also have a rate of 100% by 2030. “Legal abortion is leading us to a “Down’s Syndrome-free” world. I can barely type the words,” laments Anne Trainor in an Irish newspaper headline.

Testifying to Ireland’s Citizens Assembly which is considering changes in current Irish law against abortion, Prof Peter McParland, the director of Foetal Maternal Medicine at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, spoke of the risks associated with the new prenatal testing that can detect Down syndrome with greater accuracy.

“Down syndrome is not lethal or fatal, but women are choosing to have the test,” said McParland, explaining they then feel the push to abort. “The science has got way ahead of the ethical discussion.”

The world celebrates the lives of those with DS today with a variety of actions including the release of a humorous video – NOT SPECIAL NEEDS-in which a number of young DS adults challenge the expression that a person with DS has ‘special needs’ while demonstrating that they just have human needs same as anyone else.

Individuals, schools, and communities around the world are wearing crazy and/or unmatched socks today in support of the uniqueness those with Down syndrome. #WDSD17 is filled with expressions of support:

  • 3/21 is #WDSD17 We celebrate all the amazing people who happen to have a 3rd copy of chromosome 21. #SeeTheAbility#lotsofsocks#justlikeyou
  • Rocking my socks in support of Word Down Syndrome Day#wdsd17@KidsAbility@wrdsb
  • #WDSD17 calls for enabling ppl w/ Down syndrome to speak to policy makers & people w/influence #MyVoiceMyCommunity

Families of persons with Down syndrome continue to lobby state and national governments, as well as the United Nations, to raise awareness of the value and joy each child with Down syndrome brings to his or her family and community. The parents of Chloe Kondrich, the namesake of Pennsylvania’s “Chloe’s Law” requiring information on services for parents receiving a prenatal DS diagnosis, recently spoke at a UN panel.

Chloe’s father Kurt recounted the callous demeanor of the doctors who suggested they abort her. “They told us our daughter would be a burden. But they never told us how happy we would be raising our beautiful girl,” he told the overflowing crowd.

World Day Syndrome Day brings focus to the many contributions and abilities of persons with Down syndrome around the world. They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, students and employees. They teach zumba, compete in sports, and report the weather.

They are citizens of this world the same as everyone else and deserve laws that protect their inherent right to be born into it.

Editor’s note. This appeared at PNCI–the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Down Syndrome