Karen Gaffney is an extraordinarily successful woman. She has swum the English channel, given a stunning TEDx talk and even received an honorary doctorate. She is also a fierce advocate for the unborn.
Oh, and she has Down syndrome. Because of her unique accomplishments and background, Gaffney has become a highly sought-after speaker at pro-life events.
“I want my voice to be heard,” Gaffney said during a recent speech at OneLife LA, a pro-life event in Los Angeles. “And I want my message to come through loud and clear.”
Karen Gaffney hopes her message will inspire others and stop abortions based on fetal abnormalities like Down syndrome. But does this narrative wrongfully pit disability rights against a woman’s right to an abortion?
— Heather Adams (@HeatherAdams44) March 7, 2018
Developments in prenatal testing have made it increasingly easy to identify those with Down syndrome in utero, and selective abortions have increased as a result. Shocking news broke out of Iceland last year, when it was revealed that the nation had an almost 100 percent abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome.
With these tragic realities in mind, Gaffney’s testimony and advocacy is more important than ever.
“I think the Iceland story was so shocking to so many people,” Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, told Religion News Service. “They just didn’t know that this is a situation.”
But Down syndrome has been thrust into the limelight for more positive reasons lately.
As Faithwire previously reported, Lucas Warren, a 1-year-old from Dalton, Georgia, became the first child with Down syndrome ever to be named as the iconic “Gerber baby.”
“Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” Bill Partyka, CEO and president of Gerber, said. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
“We’re hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited,” Lucas’s dad, Jason Warren, added. “They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”
Gaffney couldn’t agree more.
“I want to inspire so many people with Down syndrome and really tell them that people like me can live,” she said.
But Gaffney is doing so much more in this world than merely existing. The Catholic high school graduate works as a research assistant at Portland’s Oregon Health and Science University. And if that’s not enough, this amazing woman also runs her own foundation!
“The Karen Gaffney Foundation is a non profit organization that is dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, communities and the workplace for people with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities,” details the organization’s website.
“Through a series of personal appearances, motivating speeches, video tapes and resource materials Karen Gaffney, a young woman with Down syndrome, and others like her will instill renewed hope for a full productive and inclusive life in the hearts and minds of new parents of a child born with Down syndrome or other learning disability.”
Now, Gaffney hopes that more Down syndrome children than ever will rightly be given the opportunity to live, thrive and be valued as precious human beings.
“It was a wave of humanity that lifted us out of institutions, brought us home, got us into schools and included us in the community of life,” she said. “It will require another wave of humanity to stop the targeting of Down syndrome around the world.”
“I believe that God is watching over me,” Gaffney said, “and a lot of other people like me.”
(H/T: Religion News Service)