The Exceptional Ones: The Perfection of Down Syndrome

This post will be brief. What I lay out will be clear. My commentary will be minimal.  This is because the stories and statistics within this blog post speak for themselves. Commentary from me on this post would diminish the power of the story and stats within it.

Anyone who knows me knows that my faith and family have had the largest impact on the man I am today.  Anyone who really knows me knows that my special-needs sister, Mary, is actually the person that has had the largest influence on me.  I will be following up this post with one in the next few days discussing my sister Mary and why she’s so perfect.  Until then, I just want to share some statistics with you and pass along a story that my wife recently e-mailed to me while I was at work, urging me to be careful when I watched it because it would definitely produce tears. She knows me too well. It’s a story about the true meaning of perfection, and how we often get it so wrong.

As I began writing this post, an ignorant and offensive tweet has brought those with Down Syndrome into the spotlight.  John Franklin Stephens’s response to Ann Coulter’s tweet has gone viral.  The letter is a reminder to all of us who have spent countless hours with those with Down Syndrome and similar disabilities of their unconditional love, pure joy for life, and understanding of humanity that goes beyond the rest of us that like to think of ourselves as normal or, worse, the “smartest ones in the room.”

But as I watch the video below, texted my sister on her iPhone, visited my sister’s new adult day program in Memphis, and read John’s letter, I was overcome with grief and sadness.  I was overcome with a profound sense of moral tragedy.  Why?

“An estimated 92 percent of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies, according to research reviewed by Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at Children’s Hospital Boston.”

There are various studies with varying numbers, and all of them are tragic.  Other studies estimate abortion rates of fetuses with Down Syndrome at 95%, 98%, and 87%.  None of the numbers are below 80%.

These lives are ended, cut short, and never given a chance.  Why? At what cost? At what loss to them, our societal priorities, and even more sadly, at what loss to us?

This video answers these questions better than I ever could. Please take the time to watch it, share it, discuss it, and think critically about it.  There are issues that exist that are primarily political and religious.  But then there are others that are profoundly moral, such as ending slavery, human trafficking, and stopping terrorism. It’s time we start talking about this one. It’s time to stop ignoring a profound human tragedy.


Posted on by Joseph Williams in Faith, Featured, Misc. Posts, Politics

7 Responses to The Exceptional Ones: The Perfection of Down Syndrome

  1. Kristin

    Such a great video and beautiful message! That really tugs at the heart strings. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stephani J.

    This is is more than great, but it’s hard to find words. It’s beautiful.
    My family did before and after school care for a family and their youngest had Down Syndrome. You’re right. You’re so so right.

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  7. Monica

    Thanks so much for sharing this. A heartbreaking trend, no doubt, but posts like these, news stories like this ( and amazing stories like the one featured in E:60 are powerful wake-up calls of the value of EVERY human life.

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