Saturday, November 4, 2017

3 Points about Down Syndrome

Frank Stephens recently testified at a hearing before Congress:
I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence, but to those who question the value of people with Down syndrome I would make three points.

First, we are a medical gift to society. As you have heard, our extra chromosome makes us a blueprint for medical research that could reveal answers to cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Immune System disorders. If not for us, then for you and the one’s you love, fund this research.

Second, we are an unusually powerful source of happiness. A Harvard-based study has discovered that people with Down syndrome, as well as their parents and siblings are happier than society at large. I know happiness is not something you can assign dollars to, but surely it must be worth something.

Finally, we are the canary in the eugenics coal mine. Genomic research isn’t going to stop at screening for Down syndrome. It won’t be long before we can identify all manner of potentially expensive medical or personality “deviations” in the womb. As a society, we have an opportunity to slow down and think about the ethics of choosing which humans get a chance at life.

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