Image: Chloe Lennon has become an online sensation

World Down’s Syndrome Week: bringing to light the plight of a people threatened by elimination

This week is World Down’s Syndrome Week and today is World Down’s Syndrome Day; and whilst this presents the perfect opportunity to celebrate the lives of people with Down’s Syndrome it is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the increasing threat to those same people. 

Advancements in screening of unborn babies is reducing the number of people born with the condition and countries such as Iceland and Denmark are at the point where only a handful of babies are born with Down’s Syndrome each year. If it continues at the present rate, Down’s Syndrome, and more importantly the people with it, will soon be eliminated from these countries. 

This threat is also present in the UK, as technological advancement makes it easier to identify Down’s Syndrome at an earlier stage. And, of course, babies with Down’s Syndrome can be aborted in the UK up to birth. It is all deeply, deeply disturbing and quite terrifying. 

This week presents an opportunity to reveal the truth about Down’s Syndrome; that it is not something to be feared or screened out. Rather, it is to be celebrated and valued. You may or may not have seen the excellent carpool video of mums of babies with Down’s Syndrome or the video of little Chloe Lennon from Ayrshire, both of which have been viewed millions of times. If you haven’t seen them please do make sure you click on the links and enjoy the wonder and beauty of life. 

Tomorrow in the Scottish Parliament Johann Lamont MSP will lead a debate on Down’s Syndrome and MSPs will be able to speak about the contribution of people with Down’s Syndrome to society and the issues which affect them. It will also be an opportunity to highlight forthcoming events such as the World Down’s Syndrome Congress which will take place in Glasgow this summer. You will be able to watch the debate live by tuning in to Scottish Parliament TV. It will immediately follow First Minister’s Questions.

As we celebrate Down’s Syndrome Week we cannot fail to think about the huge injustice which allows these people to be killed in the womb simply because they have the condition. There can be no true justice until we acknowledge that change is needed to bring about equality of opportunity for all unborn children in the womb; the opportunity to grow, to be born, to live. A first and significant step towards this would be to see no threat in one extra chromosome and to afford these babies the most fundamental and basic right of humanity: the right to life.