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Down syndrome video banned in France

By Agnieszka Krawczynski
The B.C. Catholic



VANCOUVER (CCN) — A video of children with Down syndrome and the message, “Everyone has the right to be happy,” has been banned in France.

Dear Future Mom, created in 2014 for World Down Syndrome Day, aired on French TV and has been seen more than 7 million times on YouTube.

France State Council, however, upheld a French Broadcasting Council ban on showing the video during TV commercial breaks Nov. 10.

In court documents, the council stated the two-minute short was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who, in accordance with the law, had made different personal life choices.”

Its website adds the film is “inappropriate” and not in the “general interest” of the public “since it is presented as addressed to a pregnant woman” and “likely to upset women who have resorted to medical abortion.”

As many as 96 per cent of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome end in abortion, according to the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, an international organization founded by friends of that Catholic French geneticist, who discovered the cause of trisomy 21 in 1959.

The group appealed the broadcasting council’s original ban of the video and was shocked to hear the ban upheld.

The decision puts the “preservation and destruction” of human life “on the same level, as if the two acts had the same value,” said Jean-Marie Le Mene, the foundation’s president.

“The ambition of Dear Future Mom was simply to bring about a positive message about Down syndrome, that nobody has the right to deny the capacity for happiness,” Le Mene continued.

“The decision of the State Council therefore considers that the freedom of expression of people with Down syndrome must bow before the right of abortion.”

The group will take the issue before the European Court of Human Rights. A CitizenGo petition launched Nov. 23 to bring the video to French television gained nearly 20,000 signatures in two days.

In Canada, similar videos have received a warmer welcome.

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society released a series of videos, called Down Syndrome Answers, Nov. 1. It shows 10 Canadian children and adults with the developmental disability.

“The majority of prospective parents know very little about Down syndrome,” said national executive director Kirk Crowther.

“Doctors do their best, and there are lots of websites offering the medical perspective but they typically use very clinical terms that don’t capture the emotional and human side of the Down syndrome story.”

The short videos answer questions such as: when do babies with Down syndrome learn to walk? Can a person with Down syndrome live on their own, ride a bike, or get a driver’s licence?

“This campaign isn’t about pro-choice or pro-life,” said the society’s Ed Casagrande. “It is really about pro-information.”

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