Paul Daugherty went viral as an author a couple of years ago when his article “A Letter to My Daughter With Down Syndrome on Her Wedding Day” took the internet by storm. Everyone who read it was touched by Daugherty’s devotion to and confidence in Jillian, his daughter, and her now-husband Ryan, both of whom have Down syndrome.
As a staunch advocate for people with Down syndrome and a friend of the Down syndrome community both in my local area and beyond, Daugherty’s article touched me deeply, and I began following his writings. He is just one of many parents of amazing people with Down syndrome who is using his voice to show the world how precious, valuable, and important to society these people’s lives are.
Photo: Paul Daugherty
Another writer in my life who advocates for people with Down syndrome is Katie M. Reid. Though she writes mostly about Christian parenting, marriage, and womanhood, she has also written some wonderful pieces about her brother Brian, who has Down syndrome. Katie and I have bonded over our love for people with DS, and she often sends me articles she knows I will enjoy, or that will move me to action.
It was from Katie that I heard about Ruth Marcus’ recent Washington Post editorial “I Would’ve aborted a fetus with Down syndrome. Women need that right.” Katie sent it to me because she knew it would horrify me as much as it did her. Written in response to a law passed in my home state of Ohio and being considered in other states that say doctors cannot perform abortions if the mother’s decision is to abort because of a Down syndrome diagnosis, Marcus’ article is a chilling step toward eugenics – picking and choosing whether our babies’ lives have value based on whether or not they fit our ideals of parenthood. Marcus states that when she was pregnant with each of her two children, she had pre-natal testing for Down syndrome and she says that, “I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.”
Honestly, I had no words to respond to Marcus’ cold article, in which she champions women’s rights above the rights of those with Down syndrome. But fortunately, Down syndrome dad Paul Daugherty DID have the words to respond, and he did so eloquently. In an article on his site entitled “Why Ruth Marcus Is Wrong,” Daugherty eloquently refutes Marcus’ reasoning that a child with Down syndrome (and its mother’s by association) will be a person “whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised.”
Daugherty isn’t having it. He says,
“As for Ruth Marcus: She advocates a woman’s right to choose. That’s OK. What’s not OK is to base that choice on what Marcus sees as a human imperfection. “This was not the child I wanted,” she wrote.
She describes kids born with Down syndrome as people “whose life choices will be limited.” She tries to defend those words by hiding behind the Constitution.