World Down Syndrome Day 2021
Sunday the 21st of March 2021 marks World Down Syndrome Day—a day to acknowledge people with Down Syndrome and their valid contribution to society.
Until the mid-twentieth century, people with Down Syndrome were commonly institutionalised, with many of them passing away at a young age due to health problems which were largely left untreated. In recent decades, however, attitudes towards them began shifting due to growing advocacy from parents, medical staff, and various organisations. People with Down Syndrome and other conditions were increasingly accepted into society, an integration which significantly increased their life expectancy to more than double. In fact, many of them live long and relatively healthy lives well into their sixties and seventies.
Today, people with Down Syndrome lead accomplished and ordinary lives. They receive their education in mainstream schools and universities. They are able to work, volunteer, marry, and live independently. They can vote and offer a beneficial and valid contribution to society. Many speak out publicly about their condition, creating awareness through their personal backgrounds. They demonstrate that their abilities are not restricted by their condition and that they are valuable members of today’s world.
Sadly, there are countries which do not validate the lives of people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. In Iceland, nearly a 100% of women who confirm that their unborn child has Down Syndrome choose to abort their baby. The percentage of termination after diagnosis of this condition in Denmark is 98%; in France, 77%; in the United States, 67%. These percentages are shocking and heartbreaking. Iceland boasts of eradicating the condition, but in reality this practice is merely terminating the lives of the people with the condition. If expectant mothers and parents-to-be were instead offered more support and given information about what life with a person who has Down Syndrome entails, there would be fewer of them resorting to abortion.
Here in Malta, approximately five to seven babies are born with Down Syndrome annually. Our society has come a long way in accepting this condition with all the challenges it may bring. A measure of uncertainty and misinformation may occasionally be encountered locally, especially when it comes to slower child development. However, parents of children with Down Syndrome feel that the policy of inclusion here in Malta enhances their interaction with other children and aids greatly in their education. There is a lot of support from government and private organisations, which offer therapy, financial benefits, and other assistance to families. Discrimination against people with the condition has indeed gone down significantly, and they are nearly invariably treasured by Maltese society.
Life Network Foundation values every human life, whether in the womb or out of it. The protection of children in the womb is essential, even more so when an unexpected diagnosis leads to a crisis pregnancy due to fear or uncertainty. Life Network Foundation will continue to offer support and raise awareness about Down Syndrome and other conditions, because every single person is unique and deserves to be celebrated and loved.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day!
Life Network Foundation Malta