Death, life, and Down syndrome

Here are two stories I’ve read in the last six hours about people with Down syndrome the way they are treated by our society and the church.

This Washington Post story recounts a horrific and heart-breaking story about a young man who wanted to watch a movie and ended up dead.

The second link is to the consistently excellent Her*meneutics page at Christianity Today, where we find an extended reflection about the blogosphere and media reaction to a story about a woman who agreed to carry a baby with Down syndrome to term when a priest stepped in and found someone willing to adopt the baby.

From the Her*meneutics story:

Moreover, the writer perpetuates a problematic ignorance of people with Down syndrome that seems to be all over the media these days. She implies—no, states outright—that the majority of children with Down syndrome live terrible lives. Yes, if they are mistreated, children with Down syndrome struggle mightily… just like typical kids. But data also suggests that the vast majority of families and individuals with Down syndrome live lives of contentment and joy.

The priest who reached out to the pregnant woman has a brother with Down syndrome. His father died in the act of saving that brother’s life. I suspect this priest knows the value of human life, including and perhaps especially the lives of those with Down syndrome and other vulnerabilities, full well.

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2 thoughts on “Death, life, and Down syndrome

  1. Thank you for this John. While this is anecdotal, I have taught a required undergrad class (Christian Theology) seven times at Seattle Pacific University. One of the assignments is a paper where students have to reflect on three major events that have shaped who they are and how they see life. Students almost always share things that were challenges or obstacle, that is negative things that happened to them or a mistake they made. The main exception has been 5-10 students who wrote about having a sibling with Down syndrome. In every case, the student described their love for their brother or sister and what a blessing it was to have them in their life. Having a family member with Down syndrome was a positive experience in their lives, not a negative one. I wish these stories were told more. These are people created in God’s image who, among many other things, bring joy to the lives of others.

  2. The story of Ethan Saylor’s death is horrifying for those of us that have children with Down Syndrome (or any parent who is worried about the harm that uninformed and untrained law enforcement personnel and first responders can cause their kids).

    Thanks for spreading the word, and if you would, could you visit my blog to find out how to support #JusticeForEthan? His last words before police officers crushed his larynx were: “Mommy, I need help.”

    Peace,
    LBD

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