“I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living,” Frank Stephens told the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services in a powerful testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
As a Quincy Jones Advocate at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Stephens made a passionate plea for more research to continue on the Down syndrome disease, noting that since pre-natal screenings will identify Down syndrome in the womb, many of these pregnancies are being terminated.
He stated that government officials in many countries, such as Iceland, Denmark and South Korea, have declared that abortions will make them “Down syndrome free by 2030.”
“Let’s be clear, I completely understand that the people pushing that particular ‘final solution’ are saying that people like me should not exist. They are saying that we have too little value to exist. That view is deeply prejudiced by an outdated idea of life with Down syndrome,” he said.
“Seriously, I have a great life. I have been a guest lecturer at major universities. I have contributed to a best‐selling book, had a feature role in an award‐winning film, guest starred on an Emmy winning TV show, and spoken to thousands of young people about the value of inclusion in making America great. I’ve even been to the White House twice, and I didn’t have to jump the fence either time,” Stephens told the committee, as the audience erupted into laughter.
He observed that the “extra chromosome” in people with Down syndrome “makes us a blueprint for medical research that could reveal answers to cancer, Alzheimer’s and immune system disorders. Not to mention the fact that people with Down syndrome are happier than society at large.
“I know happiness is not something you can assign dollars to, but surely it must be worth something,” Stephens declared, struggling to speak, but with intelligence and emotion.
“Let’s be America, not Iceland or Denmark. Let’s pursue answers, not ‘final solutions,'” he pleaded.
CLICK HERE to read the full transcript of Stephens’ speech. Watch his speech, and the standing ovation he received afterward, below:
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