By Boyd Matheson

This week we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day – a day designed to celebrate life and bring awareness to the human needs, not simply the “special” needs, of people with Down syndrome. Every life, no matter the disability or difference, is full of infinite worth and endless possibilities.

Sadly, people with Down syndrome have essentially become extinct across much of Europe because woman abort life after discovering their baby has Down syndrome. Lord Kevin Shinkwin, a pro-life politician in the House of Lords, said, “Soon, Europe could be Down syndrome free. What a shame the eugenicists ignore the inconvenient truth that involves killing lots of little disabled human beings before they’re born.”

Lord Shinkwin understands that on a personal level. He was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare genetic brittle bone disease. He is an advocate for people with disabilities and a staunch opponent to disability-selective abortion. In Europe, it is legal to abort a baby up until birth if the baby is disabled. This loophole has led to a 68 percent increase in abortions of disabled babies in Europe.

But this isn’t just a problem in Europe. The United States is plagued with abortion laws that are out of date with real science. In America, 19 states allow “partial-birth” abortions, while nine states and the District of Columbia do not have any restrictions on abortions.

We strip a child from their God-given potential when we, as a society, accept abortion as “health care.” Every time we kill a child we kill potential. The sad and shameful thing is when we choose a convenient death we will never know the potential good that inconvenient life could have brought about.

Lord Shinkwin, in a moving floor speech in the House of Lords, said, “I ask what message it sends if, after birth, I’m good enough for the House of Lords, but before birth, I’m only good enough for the incinerator.” Choosing life is sometimes the harder choice, but it is a choice worth making.

As a society we stand taller and we stand stronger when we stand with those who cannot stand for themselves. Our Down syndrome friends are fellow travelers with us along the road of life. While they may struggle with some of the daily tasks the rest of us take for granted – they possess skills and abilities we all would be wise to emulate. They may struggle with speech – but their capacity to love is endless and doesn’t require them to utter a word; they may have difficulty making decisions, but they never judge and have an amazing ability to accept everyone for who they are; they may strain to work or learn, yet they seem to be forever teaching us where about where simple joy is to be found and what it means to discover and cherish true happiness.

We all have something to contribute – together we can celebrate life and transform the future. Happy Down Syndrome Day!

For Sutherland Institute, this is Boyd Matheson. Thanks for engaging – because principle matters.

This post is an edited transcript of Principle Matters, a weekly radio commentary broadcast on several radio stations across the country. The podcast can be found below.

Receive this broadcast each week directly via iTunes by clicking here

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Boyd Matheson is president of Sutherland Institute. Boyd, who served as chief of staff for Utah Senator Mike Lee in Washington, D.C., has a wealth of experience as a coach, executive adviser and business consultant. In addition to his service as Sen. Lee’s chief of staff, Boyd most recently built a successful political consulting firm advising national and state elected officials and candidates. From 2005 to 2012, he served as president of Trillium Strategies, a consulting firm focused on branding, business transformation and operational excellence. Boyd and his wife, Debbie, have five children and four grandchildren.

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