The reasons I am attending the March for Life have two names: Toby and Boaz. They are my brothers and both have Down syndrome. I could not imagine my life without them. Today’s world preaches acceptance, yet we still are not accepting of those around us with disabilities. We limit them, we separate them, and worst of all we do not give them a chance at life.
According to the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City, the abortion rate of babies with a confirmed diagnosis of Down syndrome is about 75%. This equates to having approximately 30% fewer babies born with Down syndrome, as stated in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
My family adopted both of my brothers from countries outside of the United States. I am so grateful that their mothers chose life, and I wish every pregnant mother understood there are options other than terminating the pregnancy, and one of those is adoption. My life has been transformed by the power of adoption. If you would have met me ten years ago, you wouldn’t even recognize me because I didn’t have the light, the joy, the laughter in my life that I do now because of my adopted brothers.
Since adopting my brothers, we have had the privilege of meeting many other families who have had biological children with the Down syndrome diagnosis. Some of these families knew the diagnosis before birth and some did not. They all agree that they cannot imagine their lives without their family member with Down syndrome.
A misconception about people with Down syndrome is that they will not be able to lead meaningful lives. This is proven untrue based upon my brothers’ lives and many other individuals with Down syndrome. Megan Bombard is an actress with Down syndrome who owns her own business. John Cronin is an adult with Down syndrome that owns his own sock business. There is even a television show that stars individuals with Down syndrome called “Born This Way.” My brothers Toby and Boaz are included in their school classrooms with their typical peers. They are also in their school programs and plays. Toby plays flag football with his typical peers. Their lives may be different, and they will face obstacles just like any of us, but that does not mean that they do not deserve the right to life. Their lives are just as meaningful as ours.
This is why I am marching. For all of those with Down syndrome. For all of those who do not have the opportunity to march. For Toby and Boaz, who happen to be non-verbal. I am their voice.
Cassandra McDonald is an undergraduate student at Colorado Christian University. She is traveling to DC this week with 200 of her peers to the March for Life on the National Mall, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.