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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Johnson & Johnson ad posted on Facebook featuring a Down Syndrome baby has gone viral. Posted on May 10, the ad declares, "For us, and for all mothers, every baby is a Johnson's baby." It makes no political remarks nor any explicit mention of Down Syndrome. Posted by The Down Syndrome Centre of Cork in Ireland, it has been shared on Facebook 180 times and has received 10,000 views.
A 2015 study tracking numbers of aborted Down Syndrome babies in the United States shows that at the lowest end of the spectrum, 23 percent are aborted, while the highest number is 61 percent in Hawaii and in the Northeast. The study also showed that 16 percent of American Indians abort Down Syndrome babies, while Asians and Pacific Islanders abort them at a rate of 61 percent.
In the United Kingdom, this figure jumps to 90 percent of Down Syndrome babies aborted, and in Denmark, it's 100 percent. In October 2016, BBC aired a documentary, A World Without Down's Syndrome, featuring British actress Sally Philipps. In the film, Philipps notes that the number of abortions following a Down's diagnosis had risen by 40 percent in 10 years in the United Kingdom, which allows abortion in cases of Down diagnoses up until birth.
Some states are moving toward bans targeting disabled babies for eliminiation. In March, Church Militant reported on Oklahoma's measure banning Down Syndrome abortions, and on Holy Thursday in 2016, Indiana's then-governor Mike Pence, now vice president, signed a law banning abortions targeting Down Syndrome babies.
The trend of featuring the disabled in marketing campaigns has been on the rise in recent months. In December 2016, children's clothing retailer OshKosh B'Gosh featured Asher Nash, a baby with Down Syndrome, in its advertising. This followed after Asher's Mom, Meagan Nash, asked OshKosh to use Asher in its advertising in cooperation with the organization Changing the Face of Beauty, which encourages companies to include children with disabilities in their marketing. In February, Walgreens featured a child model with Down Syndrome in its store displays at 8,000 U.S. locations.
In France, however, the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel banned an ad in November 2016 featuring kids with Down Syndrome because, in its words, it was "likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices."
In contrast, a French religious order known as Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb is made up of women with Down Syndrome and was founded in 1986. This community was also supported by Abbot Antoine Forgeot of the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault before he went on to co-found the traditional community of Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma.
An additional development in the witness of the Church to people with Down Syndrome came on Wednesday when Church Militant reported on the first-ever U.S. hospital for Down Syndrome Patients that will be built within three years. The French hospital was founded by the France-based Jerome Lejeune Foundation, named for Servant of God Jerome Lejeune who spent his life in service to Down's patients and their families, and who was head of the Pontifical Academy for Life. About the purpose of medicine, Lejeune said, "Medicine becomes mad science when it attacks the patient instead of fighting the disease. We must always be on the patient's side, always."