The popular advocacy website “The Mighty” shared a video on Facebook that captures the simple truth about abortion and Down syndrome. The video has reached nearly eight million views, and once you watch, you understand why. In the video, Frank Stephens, who has Down syndrome, defends his Right to Life and the Right to Life of all people with disabilities. His words are simple and direct, and his message is that our society accept him and people like him as human beings. As Stephens says, “I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living.”
Stephens testified in a Congressional subcommittee last week in order to advocate the importance of scientific research for Down syndrome. As he said in his opening statement, “No one knows more about life with Down syndrome than I do.” As an individual living with Down syndrome, Stephens speaks about his experiences to counter the narrative that people with Down syndrome suffer from an inferior quality of Life. In the full testimony, Stephens explains that he has lectured at universities, acted in an award-winning film, and spoken to thousands of young people about the value of inclusion. And yet, Stephens makes clear, these accomplishments are not the reason why his Life has value, and he and every other person should be given a chance at Life.
In the world’s wealthiest nations an anti-Life attitude that a child diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero should be killed instead of given a chance at Life is increasingly common. The consequences of this culture of death are many. Stephens explains, “Sadly, across the world, a notion is being sold that maybe we don’t need research concerning Down syndrome.” Anti-Life doctors and politicians argue that with more advanced prenatal screening, more parents will be given a prenatal diagnosis and can choose to end their child’s Life in abortion, as Stephens says “those pregnancies will be terminated.” In Iceland, for example, the number of children born with Down syndrome is approaching zero, because almost all mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to end their children’s lives in abortion.
Clearly moved as he gave his testimony, Stephens says, “It’s hard for me to sit here and say those words.” He then makes a comparison to the Nazi’s genocidal “final solution,” saying, “I completely understand that the people pushing for this particular ‘final solution’ [aborting babies with Down syndrome]are saying that people like me should not exist.”
What is the message that people with Down syndrome and their families receive when they are told that their lives are not worth living? Stephens shows that even in the face of such grave injustice, he can still find humor while he courageously stands for his Right to Life and the Right to Life of all people with disabilities. His words and smile are a reminder that every abortion takes a Life, and we must work to protect all lives.
In Texas, preborn babies with Down syndrome can be killed in discriminatory abortions. Our strongest Pro-Life laws contain a deadly loophole that allows for the death of people like Stephens and other people with disabilities. Now that Joe Straus and his crony Byron Cook have resigned and no longer have a stranglehold on every Pro-Life bill to come before the Texas House, passing protections for babies with disabilities is long overdue and must be a priority for the next legislative session.