Have any of you ever spent much time with a victim of Down syndrome without feeling that you were in the presence of a special person whose life is valuable and makes the world better? Maybe it's just me, but I have difficulty with the idea of wiping out the differently-abled because they have some challenges relative to us, because they are different and require more time.
In my previous ward in Atlanta, our bishop had a son with Down syndrome. He was an amazing young man. He became an Eagle scout and has continued to grow in many ways. He loved my little magic tricks and always wanted more - one of my best fans ever. It's hard for me to see why doctors would want him to have been killed as an infant. It's just an unspeakably ugly thought.
Here is the conclusion of George Will's column, which some deep food for thought:
Jon, a sweet-tempered man, was born the year before Roe v. Wade inaugurated this era of the casual destruction of pre-born babies. And he was born just as prenatal genetic tests were becoming routine. Since then, it has become routine to abort babies like Jon because they are like Jon. Without this combination of diagnostic advances and moral regression, there would be more people like Jon, and the world would be a sweeter place.
America has, however, become a more congenial, welcoming place for its Down syndrome citizens who have escaped "screening." On the second day of Jon's life, the hospital's geneticist asked his parents if they intended to take him home. Nonplussed, they answered that taking a baby home seemed like the thing to do.
Jon was born at the end of the era in which institutionalization of the retarded was considered morally acceptable, but in what was still an era of gross ignorance: In the first year of Jon's life, a network-television hospital drama featured a doctor telling parents of a Down syndrome newborn that their child would probably never be toilet-trained. But ignorance lingers. There are doctors who still falsely counsel parents that a Down syndrome person will never read, write or count change. Such doctors should not try to get between Jon and his USA Today sports section.
In 1972, the odds were heavily against Jon's living as long as he already has lived. Just 25 years ago, the life expectancy of Down syndrome people was 25. Today, because of better health care, better mental stimulation in schools and homes, and better community acceptance, their life expectancy is 56.
Jon has a disability, but he also has some things most men would like to have—season tickets for Nationals and Orioles baseball, Redskins football, Capitals hockey and Georgetown University basketball. He gets to and from games (and to his work three days a week for the Nationals at RFK Stadium) by himself, taking public transportation to and from his apartment.
Jon experiences life's three elemental enjoyments—loving, being loved and ESPN. For Jon, as for most normal American males, the rest of life is details.