John McCain could save lives with his vice-presidential pick.
“I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection. Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?”
That’s Alaska’s Republican governor, Sarah Palin, talking about her infant son, Trig, born with Down Syndrome. When Todd and Sarah Palin learned last December that their baby would have Down Syndrome, they not only saved a life but made a decision that would touch the lives of families living with similar gifts across the country.
Down Syndrome is “the most commonly occurring chromosomal abnormality”: One of every 733 babies is born with Down Syndrome, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.
The governor’s website includes a Trig-welcoming-committee page with comments from Americans across the nation.
Alice from Wadsworth, Ohio, writes: “Congratulations on your new baby. You will enjoy the differences this child has from other children. Our kids really shine when participating in sports, and sports has so much to teach all of us. My ‘baby’ is 35, and I’m still enjoying watching him achieve and grow.”
Kay from Vancouver, Wash., writes: “Congratulations on the birth of your new baby, Trig. My oldest son Cody was born 33 years ago with Down Syndrome, so I know the joy you and your family will experience.”
Joe from Waterbury, Conn., writes: “Dear Governor Palin and family, I just read a story in the newspaper about the birth of your new son. My daughter, Martha, was born 28 years ago with Down syndrome. She has done very well. There is no need to be overly nervous. Things will work out for you and your family. Down syndrome is probably the most studied aspect of special education. The idea that Down syndrome children bring joy is really true. Make sure he is included with everything that the rest of your kids do. I respect the choice that you and your husband have made. I know from experience that you will be pleasantly rewarded and surprised (in the good sense) by the choice you have made.”
Paul and Noreen from Lockport, N. Y., wrote: “Dear Palin Family: Congratulations on the birth [of] Trig. As grandparents of a Down syndrome child we can tell you that our life is enriched by our grandson Aidan. We look forward to spending our time with him and see his love of life and continuing growth. God truly blessed us with him. He has shown us an inner strength to never give up. The best things in life come to us unexpectedly. God bless you and you family.”
A father from Abilene, Texas, wrote lovingly:
Dear Governor Palin, As a parent of a 2 year old with Down syndrome, I want to express my heartfelt congratulations on the birth of your special son. I remember all of the reservations and fears that my wife and I had the first days of his life. We had a lot to learn. Archer continues to be a great joy in our lives. He IS much more work than our other 2 children but it is a labor of love, NOT a burden. He has changed our lives in ways we would have never predicted. He has made me a better, kinder, more tolerant man. My children have benefited in ways that are indescribable. I know they will never act as I did as a child. I know they will defend the weakest among them. In short, Archer is a celebrity in Abilene, Texas. He brings joy to everyone that comes in contact with him. I know now that these children are put here for a specific reason by God. It is so evident to me that His hand is at work when I look at their faces and see all of the similarities. Children and adults with Down syndrome look like brothers and sisters and react that way when meeting for the first time. How could that NOT be by design. You and your family are truly blessed to have the privilege of raising this child. What ever feelings or concerns you and your family have had, others have had the same ones and you all are not alone. You are beginning a most rewarding journey that will be filled with challenges, but mostly joy. I always took for granted that our kids would learn to walk and talk. Archer has shown me what hard work it really is. All of these milestones aren’t merely footnotes in his life, they are truly accomplishments that are worthy of celebration. Rest assured that your boy [will] make them also with your help. But we learned that they do it on their timeline, not ours and so will you. Again, congratulations on the birth of your son. I wouldn’t trade or change my boy for anything, and I’m sure you feel the same way.
You get the idea.
Not only are children with Down Syndrome people too, they inspire a deep love and enthusiastic appreciation. Especially in the face of a culture that wants to expunge them. According to a study cited in the New York Times last year, “About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.” (Emphasis added.) Most American women are given prenatal tests.
At 44, Governor Palin is a bit young and relatively new to the political scene yet. These are no small considerations when electing someone who could assume the role of president (Democrats: Check out your nominee with that reservation . . . ). But if the youngest life she and her husband care for can wake up a nation that’s blind to the eugenics in its midst, a routine part of medicine today, she and John McCain would be offering human rights and dignity a great, honorable service. In contrast to Barack Obama, who would let the survivors of botched abortion attempts be killed, the Palins could serve as a great clarifier for voters this fall — and an education.
– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.