Jonathon van Maren

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Girl with Down Syndrome stuns politicians with powerful speech about her ‘right to be alive’

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June 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On May 31, Slate.com published a three-thousand-word essay titled “Choosing Life With Down Syndrome,” authored by freelance journalist Ruth Graham. The essay, which lurched back and forth between the personal stories of parents struggling to decide what to do upon discovering that their pre-born child probably had Down Syndrome and the implications these scenarios are having for the abortion debate, contained a few chilling facts, as well. In Denmark, for example, Down Syndrome is headed for “extinction” with a 98% abortion rate for those children diagnosed with chromosomal disorder through prenatal testing.

In the United Kingdom, over 90% of pre-born children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted, and numbers are similar for much of the rest of Europe. Irish pro-life activists made this a part of their outreach strategy in the days leading up to the abortion referendum on May 25, with many signs simply showing a beautiful child with Down Syndrome and the words, “Abortion discriminates.” In the United States, just over 75% of children with Down Syndrome are aborted. In Iceland, one geneticist told CBS News last year, “we have basically eradicated, almost, Down Syndrome from our society.”

The sad truth is that Iceland is not eradicating Down Syndrome. They are eradicating people with Down Syndrome—people who, every study tells us, are overwhelmingly happy and content and bring much joy to those around them.

Those facts are the subject of an incredibly powerful speech given to the Parliamentary Evening to Celebrate People With Down Syndrome on May 1 in Canada, presented by Christina Lee Fast. She began her address to the politicians with a blunt, beautiful statement: “Thank you for coming here today and for believing in me. My name is Christina Lee Fast. I’m twenty-three years old. I have Down Syndrome, and my life is worth living.”

Christina told the audience about her life: Her graduation from high school, her favorite gym (Motavi Gym on Innes Road in Ottawa), her cooking and baking skills (“I bake delicious cookies”), her chores (she’s better at folding laundry than her mom), her church, her friends, and her family. Her enthusiasm is such that it is impossible not to smile at her joyousness and verve. And then, Christina told the audience why she was speaking to them.

“My school accepts me. My gym accepts me. And my boyfriend loves me,” she said with emotion. “But the sad reality is that this is not the case everywhere. A recent news article tells us that Iceland is trying to eliminate people with Down Syndrome. They are exterminating them. They are not eliminating symptoms, but instead eliminating people. I won’t let Iceland win this!”

Holding her audience in rapt attention, Christina went on, laying out the brutal, uncomfortable facts of what civilized nations are doing to people just like her, because they are just like her. “It’s not just Iceland,” she said. “Estimates say Canada aborts almost 90% of children with Down Syndrome. That’s almost 100%. People say they want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. There’s nothing safe about abortions for babies in the womb. They are not potential human beings. They are human beings with great potential. We deserve to be alive.” The last word comes out almost as a cry. 

“We can’t let this happen!” she pleaded. “We have a right to be alive and be in this world. So please, I’m begging you all to save us Canadians with Down Syndrome. I’m practically on my knees begging you all, pro-life Members of Parliament and all Canadians, please do something about this. When I found out about the Down Syndrome test for abortion I was so angry I burst out crying angry tears. They can’t do this!

And then, Christina did something as extraordinary as it was uncomfortable: She made the case for why Down Syndrome people should be allowed to live. It was enough to send shivers down the spine: “You and I are more alike than different! We are strong like everyone else, we have the same sense of humor (but maybe even better), and we all are powerful. I’ve made a huge impact to everyone around me. If the world was a different place without us adults with Down Syndrome, it would be far worse without us, because we make the world unique and fun! Also we adults teach everyone to laugh more and to be kind to us. The world would be a very lonely place without someone to teach them how to have a sense of humor and kindness towards the disabled.”

If there was anything Christina’s powerful speech proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is that the word “disabled” does not describe her. She closed her speech with a challenge to the politicians: “Please remember what is at stake. We need to work as hard as possible to fight against discrimination targeting people with Down Syndrome. Please speak up for vulnerable children in danger of abortion. Please don’t let yourselves get distracted by fancy events or popular causes. Use your platform and your position as MPs to stand for those of us who society is literally silencing and exterminating. Thank you for listening to me today. You can make a difference. Please make a difference. I believe in you.”

I had the privilege of hearing Christina speak myself some time ago, and I can say that she is one of the most powerful spokespeople I have ever heard. She cuts directly to the point: People are killing children who looked and sounded just like her because they don’t want to be burdened with someone they perceive as less than perfect. This is wrong, and Christina demands on behalf of all people with Down Syndrome that those in power do something to correct this. And while she lays out the case, she proves, by her presence as well as by her words, that our society would be poorer and far less better off without her in it.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.