Meet actor and activist John Franklin Stephens. Mr. Stephens spoke at the UN on March 15 and give this powerful speech on behalf of those with Down syndrome. Have a listen:
John Stephens before the UN: "I don’t need to be eradicated. I don’t need to be cured. I need to be loved, valued, educated and, sometimes, helped." pic.twitter.com/Z8QVVPjqrL
— Devin Sena (@DevinSenaUI) March 28, 2018
Wow. Wow. Wow.
This is an incredibly moving speech. It makes me sad that people with Down syndrome have to speak out in this way so they won't be eradicated. https://t.co/wZEqE5QUAW
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) March 29, 2018
LifeSite wrote up Mr. Stephens’ speech here:
Stephens began by easing tensions with a joke about his extra chromosomes giving him a “little bit uncommon” appearance — “in my case, uncommonly handsome.” From there, he stated simply that he was an individual who should be seen “as a human being, not a birth defect.” People like him, he said, need not be “eradicated” or “cured” but rather loved, valued, educated, and sometimes helped.”
He explained that such help should take the form of early training for parents of Down syndrome babies, medical care such as eye exams and glasses, job training to help become self-sufficient, and ultimately to hold them to the same standards as everyone else.
“I was included in ordinary classes; the common kids and I learned from each other,” Stephens pointed out. Most importantly, he said “expect competence, not failure.”
He noted that his active life includes two White House visits, U.S. Senate testimony that went viral last fall, a role in the 2014 film Touched by Grace, and writings published worldwide. All of this, he says, is proof positive that “a life with Down syndrome can be as full and exciting as any other.”
Stephens also pointed out that people with Down syndrome provide tangible benefits to the world around them. From their extra chromosomes making them a “blueprint for medical research” on diseases such as Alzheimer’s to research affirming that people with Down syndrome and their families are overwhelmingly happy, Stephens declares people like him a “medical gift to society” and an “unusually powerful source of happiness.”
His remarks took on a serious edge when he warned that the world’s Down populations are also the “canary in the eugenics coal mine,” an opportunity to reflect on how far societies are willing to go to exterminate so-called undesirable populations.
“How would the world react if a nation proclaimed that it would use genomic testing to make itself ‘Unpopular ethnic minority free’ by 2030?” Stephens asked, referencing Iceland and Denmark’s expectations to be “Down syndrome-free” within 10 years. “The U.N. has a name for this, but we need not go there.”
“I truly believe a world without people like me will be a poorer world, a colder world, a less happy world,” Stephens said.
And here it is in its entirety: