Down's Syndrome Heroes
Posted by Alithea Williams on 21 March 2018
Happy World Down's syndrome day! It's always wonderful to see the positive reports about Down's syndrome, and the inspirational stories about people with the condition that fill the media at this time of year.
Many of you will have seen the adorable carpool karaoke video of 50 children with Down's syndrome and their mothers signing along to Christina Perri's A Thousand Years. Many other people with Trisomy 21 are speaking up to challenge the stereotypes associated with it - such as Kathleen Humberstone - an 18 year old, bilingual model - who just happens to have Down's syndrome.
However, people with Down's syndrome are making great contributions to society all year round, not just on March 21. To celebrate the day, here are my top 5 Down's syndrome heroes who have done great things in the last year.
1) Charlie Fien
Charlie Fien hit the news last year for addressing the UN in Geneva and calling for equality for people with Down's syndrome. Speaking out about the new prenatal testing, she said: "A test that checks for Down syndrome is being used to kill all babies with Down syndrome. In Iceland, Denmark and China not a single baby with Down Syndrome has been born for 7 years, SEVEN YEARS!
The goal is to eradicate Down syndrome in future. This makes me angry and very sad. I have Down syndrome. I am not suffering. I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down syndrome are suffering either. We all live happy lives."
A few weeks ago, Charlie spoke at the Rally to Save the 8th in Dublin. "Does Ireland want to follow my country and allow up to birth abortions?" she asked the huge crowd. "NO, I don’t believe you do! I beg you to Save the 8th, I beg Ireland, to save innocent baby’s lives!"
2) Frank Stephens
Special Olympian, actor and advocate for people with Down's syndrome, Frank Stephens testified before the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies to discuss the state of medical research on Down syndrome. In a powerful speech, he told the committee, "I am a man with Down Syndrome and my life is worth living," and condemned the eugenic screening and abortion of babies with the condition.
3) Karen Gaffney
Karen Gaffney is an American woman famous as a TED talks star, a long distance swimmer who relay swam the English Channel, and for being the first living person with Down's Syndrome to receive an honorary doctorate. In June, she visited Ireland, where she told politicians that "her life was worth saying yes to." She also spoke to the Rally for Life, and urged the crowd to Save the 8th to protect the right to life of "people like me". What an inspiration!
4) Natalie Dedreux
In September, 18 year old Natalie took the German chancellor Angela Merkel to task by asking why babies with Down's syndrome can be aborted up to birth. During a live debate broadcast days before the German election she said: "Mrs Merkel, you are a politician. You make laws. I’m an editor at a magazine for people like me who have Down Syndrome.
"Nine out of ten babies with Down Syndrome in Germany aren’t born. A baby with Down Syndrome can be aborted days before the birth, in what is called 'late stage abortion.' My colleagues and I want to know what your opinion on late stage abortion is, Mrs Merkel. Why can babies with Down Syndrome be aborted shortly before birth? I don’t want to be aborted, I want to be born," Miss Dedreux finished, before receiving sustained applause from the audience.
5) Patricia Heaton
This pro-life Hollywood actress doesn't have Down's syndrome herself, but she played a big role in exposing the eugenic agenda behind prenatal screening. In response to a story about the situation in Iceland, which was tweeted with the description "Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion," she responded: "Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference."