Even a contributor at the Huffington Post, no great friend of the Pro-Life movement, can see that France’s ban on a Pro-Life commercial is absurd and discriminatory. The HuffPo headline reads: “France to ban people with Down syndrome from smiling.”
The controversy began two years ago when an Italian Down syndrome advocacy group, CoorDown, produced a heartwarming video. The two-and-a-half-minute video features half a dozen people with Down syndrome reassuring women who have received a prenatal diagnosis for their children.
The video opens with the text of an email from an anxious mother: “I’m expecting a baby. I’ve discovered he has Down syndrome. I’m scared: what kind of life will my child have?” Rather than giving her a vague answer, the Down syndrome advocacy group let children speak for themselves. The video is a reply from several children with Down syndrome that begins, “Dear future mom…”
Countering the fears so many expectant parents face when they receive a prenatal diagnosis for their child, the speakers in the video focus on what people with Down syndrome can do. The diverse, smiling children in the video talk about how the yet-to-be-born baby will one day hug his or her mother, say “I love you,” write letters, travel, and even possibly get a job and own an apartment one day. Just like everyone else.
The children acknowledge that sometimes the journey will not be easy. The children admit, “Sometimes it will be difficult. Very difficult. Almost impossible.” Yet, as one of the children asks, “Isn’t it like that for all mothers?” The intent of the video is obviously not to ignore the real challenges that can accompany parenting a disabled child. The intent is to counter the lies that parenting a disabled child is impossible and too difficult to expect anyone to undergo.
The video ends with the children embracing their proud mothers. If you don’t have a few tears in your eyes by that point, you haven’t been paying attention.
What then did France find so offensive in this beautiful award winning video? France’s Conseil Supérieur del’Audiovisuel called the video “inappropriate” and banned television stations from airing the clip. Showing people with Down syndrome and their families smiling was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.”
The French bureaucracy is pointing to the fact that, in France, 86% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome die in abortions. 86 out of every 100 babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome in France will never have the opportunity to smile with their families, because they were not given the opportunity to be born.
Despite numerous petitions and requests over the past two years, France refused to lift the ban. The outcome is a grave injustice to people with Down syndrome everywhere. The laws that allow for 86 percent of babies with Down syndrome to be killed in abortions is an even greater injustice. Unfortunately, like France, Texas has a discriminatory status quo. Under current law, women can choose to end the lives of their preborn children for no other reason than a suspected disability. This is a sad fact that Texas hopes to change in the upcoming legislative session. Nonetheless, that unjust law does not give anyone the right to ban people with Down syndrome from living happily. The oppressive discrimination against people with disabilities must end. The first place to start is in the womb.