By Eileen Haupt
This year’s theme for the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on January 22nd is “Every Life is a Gift,” focusing on preborn babies diagnosed with genetic conditions. As a mother of Sadie, a child who has Down syndrome, I am so appreciative of the organizers of the March for Life for shining a light on the plight of this particular group of unborn babies.
One of the fruits of advocating for unborn babies with Down syndrome was to co-found with Leticia Velasquez, another mom of a daughter with Down syndrome, a group called “Keep Infants with Down Syndrome,” or KIDS for short. We formed KIDS for the purpose of gathering families who have children with Down syndrome to walk as a group together in the March for Life.
We held our first event in 2009, so this year will be our seventh year. It is open to individuals with Down syndrome, their families and friends, and anyone who wants to affirm the value of this special group of unborn babies.
KIDS meets at the headquarters of the National Right to Life Committee prior to the March for Life, this year from 10:30-noon. The NRLC generously provides a place for us to meet and some sandwiches to fuel us for walking the big event.
For all but one of our KIDS gatherings, we have been honored to have Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from the state of Washington as our special guest. McMorris Rodgers is also the mom of a child with Down syndrome, a 7-year-old boy named Cole. Though not yet confirmed, we are hoping she will again be able to join us this year.
Why are babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome and other genetic conditions of particular concern? They are specifically targeted in “seek and destroy” missions through prenatal testing.
The rate of abortion for those babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome is very high, tragically estimated to be somewhere around 75% to 90% in the United States.
This shocking statistic is what drew me into the prolife cause 16 years ago when my Sadie was an infant. It made me pay attention to the abortion issue. The more I learned, the more I knew I could not sit on the sidelines any longer as these precious unborn children are eliminated from our lives. I needed to speak up and defend the lives of babies like my daughter.
It saddens me even more knowing what a truly special experience it is to have a child with Down syndrome. No prenatal test can prepare us for what life will be like having a child with Down syndrome. Nothing could have prepared me for how much I would love my daughter, and how much joy she would bring to our lives!
Sadly, there will always be parents who think it is in the best interest for themselves and/or their child to terminate his life by abortion. They either will never receive positive information about having a child with Down syndrome, or will refuse to believe it. There really is only one way to save these babies, just as for all babies with or without a genetic condition, and that is to end the legality of abortion. And that is why I march.
If you can, please join us at the NRLC headquarters this Thursday beginning at 10:30 am.
Editor’s note. Eileen Haupt is the mother of two daughters and co-founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome (KIDS). For more information about KIDS, visit hpp://keepinfantswithdownsydrome.blogspot.com