Meet Benjamin: Down child’s hugs are a testament to the sanctity of life in Ireland

On World Down Syndrome Day, the boy's mother says in a video that she fears a repeal of the Eighth Amendment will result in babies diagnosed with disabilities being aborted at a high rate.
Wed Mar 21, 2018 - 7:18 pm EST
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Carina looks at a picture of her Down syndrome son Benjamin. YouTube

IRELAND, March 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Today is World Down Syndrome Day, and to mark the occasion, the LoveBoth Project has released a new video that puts the sanctity of these lives in both personal and national perspectives.

The video features Carina, the mother of a small child in Ireland named Benjamin, recounting her reaction to the news that he had Down syndrome, and how her son has brought more warmth into her family’s life than she could have imagined.

Carina says she did not learn of Benjamin’s condition until minutes after his birth, something she says she’s glad a prenatal diagnosis didn’t tell her sooner. “When I got Benjamin’s diagnosis that he had Down syndrome, well, I had him with me to comfort me,” she explained.

Comfort soon proved to be a recurring theme for Benjamin. “He has quite a high level of empathy, so if one of his siblings are crying, he will, even as a very small child, go over and give them a hug,” Carina said. “Sometimes now I find that when they come home feeling down on themselves or have had a bad day, they will actually go to Benjamin to get a comfort cuddle.”

“He just seems to give them something that they need,” his mother summarized.

The story tracks with the results of a 2011 study finding that 99 percent of people with Down syndrome described themselves as “happy,” and only 4 percent of parents of Down syndrome children expressed regret at having their child.

Experiences like this highlight the love snuffed out when babies with disabilities are targeted for abortion, and Carina believes Irish protections for the preborn are critical to public appreciation of it. “I think the Eighth Amendment makes us different because I found that there’s a better attitude toward people with a disability in Ireland,” she said.

Ireland’s Eighth Amendment affirms that the right to life of a preborn child is equal to that of his or her mother. A national referendum on whether to repeal it is tentatively slated for May 25.

If that happens, Carina fears that Ireland “will end up like Britain, where 90 percent of children with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are aborted. It’s not just the UK, it’s most of northern Europe have similar percentages of terminations.”

It has been estimated that 65 percent of Down syndrome babies are aborted in Norway, 100 percent in Iceland, and 95 percent in Spain. Precise data is not collected in the United States, but in 2015, the Charlotte Lozier Institute estimated that abortion reduces the American Down syndrome community by 30 percent.  

The end result, she said, will be a “culture that has decided that for some, it is better that you are not born. And for my son, for the Down syndrome community, and for Ireland, for my country as well, I hope that that doesn’t happen.”

Carina and Benjamin’s story is the same as “that of many families all over Ireland,” LoveBoth spokesperson Maeve O’Hanlon said, declaring World Down Syndrome Day a “time for us to reflect on the ways we can work on improving outcomes for people with Down Syndrome and enable them to fulfil their potential in every area of life.”

  abortion, down syndrome, eighth amendment, ireland

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