"Abortion is acceptable for parents who do not want to raise disabled children or believe that children with special needs will have limited, unfulfilling lives." This instance is very common in the US and especially in Iceland, where the abortion rate for Down syndrome is almost 100%. Yet Karen Gaffney, President of the Karen Gaffney Foundation, has Down Syndrome, and enjoys her life very much. Watch this video to see her explain how people with special needs can still lead happy, inclusive lives, and how every human deserves to be loved, cherished, and given a chance to fulfill his or her unique potential.Read Transcript More Resources Next Video
Hi name is Karen, and I have Down syndrome.
It is not a disease, it’s not contagious, and you can’t catch it from anyone. It's okay, I know I am different than you. I look differently, I talk differently, I walk differently. I don't hear as well as most of you do, and I don't see as well either. And sometimes it takes me longer to learn things.
Now, another thing that is different about me is that I can SWIM, probably much longer and much farther than many of you watching this video.
You may be faster than me at the start, but I will outlast you on time and distance any day of the week.
You should know that I have some pretty big swims on my resume, like a relay across the English Channel and a nine-mile nonstop solo swim across Lake Tahoe.
I also like to tell people that I am the first person with Down syndrome to escape from Alcatraz. I have done that swim from Alcatraz Island, where the prison used to be, all the way across the San Francisco Bay 16 times now.
I have a regular high school diploma, a 2 year college degree, and an honorary doctorate degree. And…I have a good paying job. In short, my life is amazing.
It is important that you know that I am not the exception for people with Down syndrome. Stories are pouring into newsrooms, websites, and Facebook pages all around the world about people with Down syndrome who are business owners, hard working employees, actors, musicians, surfers, hockey players, and public speakers, all showing what is possible when we are given the chance to live a full and inclusive life.
You know, 50 years ago, people like me didn’t even have a place in the classroom….But then, HUMANITY showed up….and all that began to change. That’s why you see what you are seeing today. Yes, that’s right…a full and inclusive life! Our lives are worth living.
And yet, there is a widespread belief in our world that conditions such as Down syndrome, are not compatible with life. And it is much easier today to do something about that. Tragically, humanity has taken a back seat, and millions of people just like me are killed while in their mother’s womb, because some think it is the easy road to take.
Ending the life of an unborn child because he or she will have a disability is wrong, it is very, very wrong. This comes from a belief that people with disabilities are weak and need to be weeded out from society. This view is unjust, tragic, and deserving of international outrage. It has no place in a world that stands for basic human rights.
It is a human rights violation to kill someone who is 25 years old and who has a special condition or disability, and it should also be considered a human rights violation to kill someone for these same conditions when she is a child, a baby, or preborn child.
Instead of ending the lives of people who are different from us, let’s celebrate their lives and their right to live up to their own unique, full potential. Celebrating the things that make us unique individuals – even the difficult things – that’s Humanity at work! Let’s embrace those moms and dads that are choosing life for their babies who may be born with disabilities. AND let's band together, to focus on improving lives, not preventing them.