More people should choose to have children with Down syndrome


Portrait of a teenage girl. Part of ‘Shifting Perspectives’, an exhibition centred around positive imagery of individuals with Down syndrome. PHOTO/Fiona Yaron-Field/Wellcome Images

My son Aaron, aged nine, has Down syndrome. If you look at photos of our family, his disability might not be readily apparent. He wears glasses, and he likes to pull his baseball cap down low over his forehead, which makes the characteristic almond shape of his eyes difficult to see. At first glance, Aaron might look like any other nine-year-old – and that seems fitting because much of his life revolves around the activities of a typical boy his age: sports, playing with pets, going to school, watching cartoons.

As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I was alarmed when I first heard about the high rates of abortion of foetuses prenatally diagnosed with the condition in the United States. These rates range from 67 per cent to 90 per cent and above. But after a bit of reflection, this reaction of alarm might not make a lot of sense. Though my wife and I chose to bring Aaron into our family after his prenatal diagnosis, some might think that the opposite choice made by others would not affect Aaron or our family. Why should someone like me care about whether others choose to abort a foetus with Down syndrome? Isn’t it just a personal decision?

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