After our son was born with Down syndrome nearly 20 years ago, I researched the heck out of his diagnosis. One of the articles I found that gave me hope was a column by George Will. I knew of him and his reputation as a political columnist, but I didn’t know he had a son with Down syndrome.
The particular column I read was written in honor of his son’s 20th birthday. He described his son Jon as a happy and wonderful human being with personal interests as well as a loving family. It made me feel like having Down syndrome wasn’t the end of the world for our child.
Last week, Will’s son Jon turned 40, and Will wrote another column in celebration of the day. In it he draws a picture of a man who loves nothing better than to take the subway to the baseball game and, after popping in to help out in the locker room, sit and enjoy the game with a cold one.
While many other 40-year-olds spend their afternoons stuck in traffic on their way home from work, thinking about how they’re going to make the mortgage payment this month or why their boss is making them miserable, Jon Will watches his beloved baseball team. Doesn’t sound like such a bad life, does it?
Our son has a good life, too. He likes to sing along to his favorite movies, bowl and play mini-golf, make hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, and talk to his favorite people on his phone. And then there are his video games; there’s nothing he likes better than to beat his dad or his brother or his sister’s boyfriend fair and square while playing video games.
So when you hear someone say that babies with Down syndrome are better off aborted because they would have had such a hard life, don’t believe it. Not for a second. Because there are many, many people like Jon Will and my son who live very good lives indeed.
Oh…one more thing: please don’t do as some of Will’s commenters did and defend abortion by saying that there are many babies with Down syndrome whose families can’t handle their diagnosis, because there are waiting lists of people who want to adopt those babies. They too will be loved and be able to enjoy life IF they are given the chance to have that life.