DENVER & ATLANTA (August 22, 2014) – The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress are outraged and saddened by recent public comments by the British author Richard Dawkins.
In response to a question from a concerned woman about the possibility of having a child with Down syndrome, Dawkins strongly argued for the elimination of people with the condition.
“…The decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare,” Dawkins wrote on his blog.
Global Down Syndrome Foundation executive director Michelle Sie Whitten responded: “It is amazing to me in the 21st century that there is so much misinformation and discrimination against people with Down syndrome. I would hope the world is as appalled by Richard Dawkins’ statements as it was by the recent case of twin baby Gammy, where his Australian biological parents abandoned him to his surrogate in Thailand. The fact is people with Down syndrome can and do live long, happy and productive lives.”
“We firmly believe and advocate that ‘We’re More Alike Than Different,’ and statements like Richard Dawkins’ promote division instead of unity,” said David Tolleson, executive director of the National Down Syndrome Congress. “People with Down syndrome should not be treated like second-class citizens, and anyone making that argument sets back the great progress that has been made in terms of equality for all people.”
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress strongly advocate for the availability of current and accurate information about Down syndrome. Below are specific facts about the condition in the United States:
Lifespan – Today, the average lifespan of a person with Down syndrome is nearly 60 years.
Termination rates – The best available statistics in the U.S. are that an estimated 67 percent of women who receive an amniocentesis resulting in a positive test result for Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies. But over 95 percent of pregnant women don’t even elect to receive an amniocentesis.
Medical care & research – There have been great strides in medical care and research that have doubled the lifespan of people with Down syndrome over the last 30 years.
Educational opportunities – People with Down syndrome are included in public schools. Many complete high school, and increasing numbers are going to college or get vocational training.
Voting & Employment – Many people with Down syndrome work, volunteer and vote.
Marriage, Siblings & Self-advocates– Despite potential challenges, personal accounts and studies show most families that have a child with Down syndrome are stable, successful and happy, and that siblings often report having increased levels of compassion and empathy. One major study on marriages and Down syndrome shows that the divorce rate among parents of children with Down syndrome is lower than the national average.
About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Formally established in 2009, Global has the primary focus of supporting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the U.S. committed to research and medical care for people with the condition. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal. Global organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show — the single-largest annual fundraiser benefiting people with Down syndrome. Programmatically, Global organizes and funds many programs and conferences, including the Dare to Play Football Camp with Ed McCaffrey, the Dare to Cheer Camp with the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders, and the Global Down Syndrome Educational Series. Global is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.
About the National Down Syndrome Congress
Founded in 1973, the National Down Syndrome Congress is the oldest national organization for people with Down syndrome, their families, and the professionals who work with them. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization, the NDSC provides free technical support and information about issues related to Down syndrome throughout the lifespan, as well as on matters of public policy relating to disability rights. Best known for its annual convention – the largest of its type in the world – the National Down Syndrome Congress is a grassroots organization recognized for its “family” feel, its “We’re More Alike than Different” public awareness campaign, and its outreach to individuals from diverse backgrounds.