I was pleasantly surprised to open People magazine and find a feature devoted to an actor who may be on the cusp of stardom—and who also happens to have Down syndrome.
Performer Zack Gottsagen will be appearing in the August release of “The Peanut Butter Falcon.” A Florida newspaper also published a lengthy profile of this soon-to-be breakout star. According to writer Ben Crandell of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, doctors predicted that Zack would not be able to walk or talk—yet now, he is receiving standing ovations for his role in what Crandell describes as a “bittersweet buddy comedy.”
Zach’s ascendancy in Hollywood is truly inspirational—a testament to his talent and grit. It also shows just how far a person with Down syndrome can exceed societal expectations.
And yet, babies with Down syndrome are routinely targeted for extinction. Research shows the vast majority of preborn babies who receive a Down syndrome diagnosis are aborted. How poorer our society is when these bright lights of humanity are never able to see the light of day.
But whether a person with Down syndrome works in Hollywood, California or Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he or she deserves the utmost in respect. Not every citizen with Down syndrome will appear on the big screen; nevertheless, he or she can make a big impact on our families, our schools, our workplaces, and our communities.
This is why the Pennsylvania House of Representatives soundly passed House Bill 321—a bill which would ban abortion for the sole reason of a Down syndrome diagnosis. It is the ultimate form of bigotry and discrimination to deny a person life based on disability. The bill is now pending in the PA Senate.
Every abortion is a tragedy, because it steals the life of a precious, unrepeatable human being. Until the tragic U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade falls and states can provide total protection to preborn babies, bills such as HB 321 represent a crucial first step.
We as a nation are suffering from a tremendous talent deficit because of legalized abortion. In a civilized society, people with disabilities should be honored, treasured, and empowered—as much as any star of the cinema.