Press releases

March 20, 2018
Experts at Holy See Event Address Discrimination Faced by Girls and Boys with Down Syndrome

On March 20, The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations sponsored a Side Event during the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women and in observance of the 13th World Down Syndrome Day, which will take place on March 21 (3-21). The event was dedicated to the question, “No room in rural villages, cities and homes for those with disabilities? Are girls and boys with Down Syndrome being left behind?” In his Opening Statement for the event, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said that there is much sincere talk and normally passionate action at the United Nations to leave no one behind and to end unjust discrimination against women or those with disabilities, but as firm as these commitments are in principle, many States, UN Agencies and members of civil society tolerate gross violations of them in practice. He cited the discrimination against women that takes place in prenatal genetic screen followed by sex-selective abortion, which has left a deficit of 160 million girls worldwide and how many of those who say they are advancing the cause of women and girls are notably silent before this lethal form of discrimination. That inconsistency, Archbishop Auza said, is even more pronounced when we turn to what is happening to those diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome, as the vast majority of them are targeted for abortion, a practice that many are saying is approaching genocidal proportions. Archbishop Auza cited Pope Francis words that “we are even told that it is better to eliminate [those with disabilities] as soon as possible” and that “in the common mindset, there is still too strong an attitude of rejection of this condition, as if it prevents one from achieving happiness and self-fulfillment,” something “demonstrated by the eugenic trend of ending the lives of the unborn who show some form of imperfection.” Studies overwhelmingly show that persons with Down Syndrome, their parents, and their siblings are all happy, statistics that Archbishop Auza said show that “Down Children and their families are simply among the happiness groups of people alive, and the world is happier because of them.” He finished his remarks by mentioning the history of World Down Syndrome Day and said that it is an opportunity to respond to the eugenic trend with what Pope Francis calls “the answer [of] love.”

His statement can be found here.

To watch the event in its entirety, click here.