The Gerber Baby, Down Syndrome and The Purpose of Life

Lucas Warren has made headlines around the world by becoming the new Gerber Baby.  Lucas is a very cute baby (see the video link from Fox News below), but that isn’t why he’s making headlines.  He’s making headlines because Lucas Warren is the first Gerber Baby model who has Down syndrome.

Every Baby Is a Gerber Baby

Gerber’s company motto is “Every baby is a Gerber Baby.”  Their choice of Lucas has been welcomed especially by family members of people with special needs.  It is a reaffirmation of the value of all human life, a concept that is no longer taken for granted.

“Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down Syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”

The world has become increasingly materialistic in recent decades, with people more focused on self and career.  Advances in medical technology have expanded our ability to predict a baby’s characteristics before birth.  There is a growing desire among some parents and medical professionals that all children should be ‘above average.’

Down Syndrome and Abortion

CBS News reported in August 2017 that Iceland is on the path to eliminating Down syndrome through abortion.  Actress Patricia Heaton reacted swiftly on Twitter to that statement.  “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down Syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”

Washington, DC-area talk show host Larry O’Connor broadcasts on WMAL weekday afternoons.  On Thursday the 8th, O’Connor spent a portion of his show on this topic.  As the father of four children, two of whom have special needs, he is particularly well informed on the issue.

Many of us have special needs at different times of our lives. Should we be euthanized if we’re not ‘functional’?

O’Connor told of an OB-GYN nurse offering amniocentesis testing during one of his wife’s pregnancies.  He asked the purpose of the test, and was told it would give them advance knowledge of whether the child had Down syndrome.  He asked, “What will change as a result of my knowing this now, at four months’ gestation, or finding it out at birth?”

The clear answer was that they could choose to abort the baby.  Other parents called in with similar stories.  They had resisted strong pressure from their doctors to abort their children.  Some of those children were indeed born with special needs, and others were leading independent lives filled with achievements.

The Purpose of Life

All of this begs the question, what really is the purpose of life?  Are the children who go to college and have jobs really of greater worth than those who are autistic, or have Down syndrome or cerebral palsy?  Isn’t all human life precious in the eyes of God, and shouldn’t it all be precious to every other human?

We would react with horror at the thought of euthanizing elderly people when they can no longer function independently.

We would react with horror at the thought of euthanizing elderly people when they can no longer function independently.  Why would we euthanize a growing life because prenatal testing suggests that child will never be able to function independently?  Are we assuming that the only purpose of life is to have a career, get married, have children, or achieve something?

Many of us have ‘special needs’ at different times of our lives.  People may be overwhelmed with grief, or suffer from debilitating depression or physical illness.  They may have abandoned their free will to the enslavement of addiction.  Should their lives be ended because they show no promise of being productive or independent?

Another mother who called the talk show told of her third pregnancy. She was 33 years old, and the prenatal testing was inconclusive.  Her doctor urged her to abort the baby, saying that the risk factors were just too great to continue the pregnancy.

The caller kept the baby, and said that child is now 20 years old, in her third year of college.  What if she had followed that doctor’s advice?  Her fourth child was diagnosed at about 2 years with severely regressive autism.  But she still feels joy and love from association with him.

All they can do is love, and be loved, and reflect joy.

There are many people who are unable to function fully, who are distilled to their very essence.  All they can do is love, and be loved, and reflect joy.  Those blessed to be with them come away feeling the purity, joy and love they reflect.  This is especially true of the people I know who have Down syndrome.

What is the purpose of life?  It is to bring love and joy to others.  At our life’s end, do we want to be surrounded by money and reminders of our accomplishments, or by those who love us and whom we love?

Our thanks go to the Gerber Company for a gentle reminder that every baby is indeed a Gerber Baby.  And every person can love and be loved.  It is the essence of life.  Don’t end that life – celebrate it.


The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Bart Marcois

Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) was the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs during the Bush administration. Additionally, Marcois served as a career foreign service officer with the State Department.

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