France’s Decision to Uphold Ban on Down Syndrome Video and Why It Matters

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Next month will mark the 43rd year since our Supreme Court made the decision to legalize the killing of children within the womb for virtually any reason throughout all stages of a pregnancy. Sanctity of Human Life (SoHL) month has become a time to draw special attention to both the tragedy of abortion and the responsibility we have to speak up for those who have no voices: the unborn. This blog post is a great reminder of why SoHL month is so important to emphasize, and we hope you will begin thinking now of what role you can play in advocating for the unborn next month.


“Dear Future Mom”

If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read your interview, it was banning it!1

This quote, spoken by Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter series floated through my head a few weeks ago as I began reading article after article about the recent news regarding France upholding a ban on a video entitled “Dear Future Mom.”

You don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to understand the meaning behind the quote: The best way to make sure everyone knows about something is to tell everyone they can’t know about it.

So what is “Dear Future Mom”? If you haven’t seen it yet, check the video out here. This video was produced in 2014 by the Italian Down syndrome advocacy organization, CoorDown, for World Down Syndrome Day (which falls on March 21 each year).

I won’t describe the video in detail here because words won’t do it justice. You simply have to watch it. The video features several children and teenagers with Down syndrome answering a future mother’s questions and concerns about having a baby with Down syndrome. Get the tissues ready. It’s effective and most definitely life-affirming.

And that’s where the problem lies.

A Ban on Disturbed Consciences

France’s State Council upheld a ban on the video last month, calling it “inappropriate” because the visuals of smiling children with Down syndrome are, “Likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal decisions.”

That’s a politically correct way of saying that the video might make women who have aborted their children because of a Down syndrome diagnosis feel guilty about it.

So to break that down a bit more, not only is a woman’s “right” to abort her child due to an adverse diagnosis upheld, but also her “right” to not feel guilty or uncomfortable about it is being protected.

Research has shown that approximately 92% of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to abort their pregnancies. This same research revealed that, “In the absence of prenatal testing, the United States would have experienced a 34 percent increase in the number of Down births between 1989 and 2005.”

So really, France’s concerns that some people might be bothered by this video are well-founded, because the majority of women who receive such a prenatal diagnosis have chosen to terminate their pregnancies.

But was their decision to elevate the protection of a guilty conscience over the potential to protect human life via the message of this video the right one?

I won’t dignify that question with an answer. That’s not what I’m here to discuss.

How Should We Respond?

What has compelled me to write is the subtle danger that we who are opposed to this decision are at risk of falling into.

The reaction to this decision, for many pro-lifers, has been to cite the joy that children with Down syndrome bring to the lives of their families and others. Additionally, people cite the positive impact that people with this disability have on the world.  An article posted last week by the National Right to Life News spoke to this issue, saying, “ [Future parents’ response to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is] a tragedy not only because it ends a baby’s life, and wounds the parents, but also because the world misses out on the gifts such children offer society. We are all diminished.”

Pro-lifers also draw attention to the personal happiness of these children (statistics say that 99% are happy with their lives), the high quality of life they are capable of having, and the fact that the joy-filled moments outweigh the difficulties.

I don’t disagree with these statements. And I have plenty of friends with children or family members who have Down syndrome who would say yes, these things are true.

But let us not fool ourselves into falling for the lie that these reasons are what justify choosing life rather than abortion.

Because if my sole reason for protecting a life is whether or not that life brings me joy or offers anything of value to me, or in my opinion has a high quality of life—if these reasons are our foundation for preventing an abortion—then I can just as easily justify choosing to have an abortion given different circumstances.

Yes, the above reasons are all factors to consider. But they are not the primary reason to protect these lives.

The Primary Reason to Protect Life

An article posted on the LiveAction News website put it simply and clearly by stating, “People with Down syndrome are first and foremost people—human beings that have the same rights as everyone else….”

For the Christian, the responsibility to protect unborn life runs even deeper. It is as simple as this: All people—yes, including those with Down syndrome—were created by God, in his image, and for his glory.

News like the ban on this life-affirming video should upset us. We should be upset because of the encroachment on freedom of speech and the discrimination against people who have Down syndrome.

But the thing that should upset us the most is that we as a society are more concerned with protecting the guilty consciences of women and men who have made this decision than we are with protecting the tiny humans whose lives are ended within the womb every day.

This is the very definition of suppressing truth. Because the fact is, if such elimination of unborn life is really justifiable, then there shouldn’t be any need to protect the consciences of those who have made such a choice.

It makes us uncomfortable because we know. We know that we are choosing to snuff out life not because we care for the unborn’s quality of life or happiness, but because we care about ourselves.

We don’t want a difficult life. We don’t want a socially ostracized life. We don’t want a life marked with moments of suffering.

And that, pro-lifer, is what we must fight against. In the battle to protect unborn life, we must refuse to arm ourselves with such subjective justifications as those listed above. Instead, we must arm ourselves with the irrefutable truth that all life is valuable, all life is of infinite worth, and all life deserves to be protected.

Not because of what that life could bring to me or you or to the world.

But because that life was created fearfully, wonderfully, miraculously, and masterfully.

And that should be enough.

 

Mary Holloman is the Communications Assistant at GPCC. When she’s not at the Care Center she’s probably chasing her almost 2-year old, spending time with her handsome hubby, writing, or serving at Lawndale Baptist Church. You can follow her on her personal blog at www.AllMySpringsBlog.com.

 

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