The beautiful people

I have just discovered that yesterday (NZ)/today (USA) is/was World Down Syndrome Day.

As a teenager I attended school with two classmates (in a class of 27 students) who were Down Syndrome. Despite my typically teenagerish bad attitudes initially, I grew to greatly appreciate these students and in retrospect realize I learned a vast amount from them about compassion, teamwork, how to help others, and that people are of much more importance than achievements. I am delighted to be able to add a small voice of encouragement and support for folks with Down Syndrome.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has made a statement about world Down-Syndrome day, here is an excerpt:

For too long, persons with Down syndrome, including children, have been left on the margins of society. In many countries, they continue to face stigma and discrimination as well as legal, attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their participation in their communities.

He finishes by saying:

On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.

I have highlighted a statement which is very important. The most important human right which needs to be upheld for people with Down’s Syndrome is the right to life — spelled out in Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

Article 10 — Right to life

States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

New Zealand (and the United States) have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I consider this of huge importance in the face of a concerted effort by health providers’, atheists and liberalists to eliminate any Down Syndrome babies detected prior to birth. On one hand we claim to uphold the rights of people with disabilities’ (in our view), yet consider inconvenience for families and mothers to be of more significance than a person’s right to live. In the view of some, a baby does not even have the right to be considered a person, so if a newborn will be inconvenient they could theoretically be disposed of! (OK, that is another issue — one which I fully intend to discuss at length in future).

It is true that raising any child who is different is a lot of work, but our selfishness is not a reason to become evil and deny life to such people. Let us love people first and then worry about achieving other goals (I am preaching to myself here).


Photo of happy boy: iStock

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