A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news blog featured a story about a new line of clothing for people with Down syndrome that has been launched. Karen Bowersox of Mentor, OH, has developed a clothing line specifically for people with the condition. See http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2014/08/clothing-line-for-people-with-down-syndrome-finds-success-on-kickstarter.html.
Being an advocate for people with disabilities, I took note of the story. It's not a major human rights story, but I suppose it may be a concern—especially for a person with Down’s. This small good news story was refreshing after a bigoted and odious comment by Richard Dawkins last week. The lofty Oxford professor said it is immoral not to abort a child with Down’s. That's how coarse and anti-disability our culture is becoming—that such cruel comments would come from a prestigious university as Oxford.
Inclusion, not elimination, of people with disabilities of various kinds must be a goal for enlightened society. Unfortunately nearly 90% of pregnancies involving babies with Down syndrome end in abortion. And so a story about a loving grandmother of a Down’s child developing a clothing line for people with the syndrome was sweetness in the wake of Dawkins' awful words.
Christians should stand in contrast to such sentiments and advocate for life and inclusion for all humanity as image bearers of God, supporting families facing a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s or other disabilities. We can set a standard of inclusion!
Where does inclusion occur? It occurs in the daily lives of people with disabilities and the accommodation of their needs. Inclusion occurs with accessible housing and transportation, education and recreation, proper nutrition, and access to equal medical care to the rest of the population. And yes, it can occur even in the simplest and ordinary aspects of life such as having clothing that fits. It occurs by including people with disabilities and their families in our community and church life.
Make your church, community, and family disability friendly.
Mark Davis Pickup has lived with aggressive multiple sclerosis for over 28 years. Although electric wheelchair dependent, Mark has spoken across the United States and Canada promoting the sanctity, dignity, and equality of all human life. He has addressed politicians and legislative committees (both Canadian and American), university forums, hospital medical staffs, religious and denominational leaders, community groups, and organizations about the critical importance of protecting all human life from conception to natural death. Mark is also a widely published writer on bioethical and Christian issues. He writes a column for Canada’s Western Catholic Reporter newspaper. Mark is the recipient of numerous awards including the Monsignor Bill Irwin Award for Ethical Excellence, the William Kurelek Award for fostering respect and appreciation for the dignity of human life (Canada), and a Governor General’s Medal for Community Service.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at http://www.humanlifematters.org/2014/08/including-people-with-downs.html.