Though our world is filled with sadness, grief, stress, there are individuals who always seem joyful. Have you ever met a Down Syndrome affected person who doesn’t bring a smile to your face? All they want to do is smile at others, hug, high-five and bring joy to the world. They are little lights in this world.
I have never met a family that doesn’t treasure their Down Syndrome children. Even in the extended family, these children are loved. They are people who contribute to society in such a meaningful way. Why doesn’t our society want to protect a group of people who exude so much love and joy?
As a physician, I hear the devastation in my patients’ voices when they speak of the choice they made to abort a Down Syndrome child. These patients suffer from anxiety, depression, and grief. They chose the path of abortion because when they were given a diagnosis wrapped up in fear and presented with the option of relieving the “problem” with abortion. A physician’s advice carries more influence in difficult moments. These patients were not given information about support groups for Downs families. In addition, they were not encouraged to speak with parents of Downs children to see how their lives had been impacted. Instead, the patients were encouraged and rushed from their 18-week appointment for an ultrasound to a 20-week abortion appointment to terminate their pregnancy before it was illegal.
When I meet people considering abortion for genetic anomalies I remind them that none of us are perfect. We may appear perfect on the outside but inside we have anxiety, depression, cancer, a multitude of autoimmune diseases, learning disabilities, heart and lung disease, diabetes, and the list goes on. Down Syndrome children wear their difference on their sleeves while we hide ours beneath our “perfect appearances”. Yet, the Down Syndrome children are actually more perfect, in so many ways, especially in the areas of love and kindness. I advise patients to preserve the life of these blessing who have a different appearance. We are all different. Their difference is that they are little lights, and we all need little lights.
Dr. Monique Ruberu