The journal First Things has published a marvelous article entitled “Conscience, Courage, and Children With Down Syndrome” by the archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M Cap. Here are some excerpts, with a couple comments from me at the end.
Prenatal testing can now detect up to 95 percent of pregnancies with a strong risk of Down syndrome. The tests aren’t conclusive, but they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are now terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes — a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, merely undesirable. […]
And, just as some people resent the imperfection, the inconvenience, and the expense of persons with disabilities, others see in them an invitation to be healed of their own sins and failures by learning how to love. About 200 families in this country are now waiting to adopt children with Down syndrome. Many of these families already have, or know, a child with special needs. A Maryland-based organization, Reece’s Rainbow, helps arrange international adoptions of children with Down syndrome. […]
Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs — in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak, abandoned, or homeless — is an icon of God’s face and a vessel of his love. How we treat these persons — whether we revere them and welcome them or throw them away in distaste — shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation.(Read the whole article here.)
I’m so glad for organizations like Reece’s Rainbow (mentioned in the article) that specialize in placing children with Down syndrome.
And a short anecdote: when I was a camp counselor, one of my campers was a fellow with Down syndrome. He could read, memorize Bible verses, participate in the games, and even talk me into going on the Giant Swing with him (60-foot drop — absolutely terrifying, in my opinion). His parents are Christians who have made many sacrifices to bring him up, educate him in a special school, and love him. But all love is a sacrifice, as our Lord taught us.