March 21, 2021
Mr. Anthony Kennedy Shriver
Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer
Best Buddies International
100 Southeast Second St, Suite 2200
Miami, FL 33131
Dear Mr. Shriver:
As we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, I want to make you aware that abortion after prenatal diagnosis has reduced the population of individuals living with Down Syndrome in the U.S. by approximately 30%. Please allow me to share a few more statistics with you (1):
- Nearly 100% of women in Iceland and 98% of women in Denmark who receive a positive Down Syndrome diagnosis for their baby terminate the pregnancy (2).
- Globally, 25% of all pregnancies ended in abortion in 2010-2014 (3).
- The abortion rate for babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the United States is 67% (4), while the overall abortion ratio was 189 abortions per 1,000 live births in the U.S. in 2018 (5).
The data demonstrates that babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted at significantly higher rates than those not diagnosed with Down Syndrome, both domestically and internationally.
Women terminate their pregnancies for a multitude (6) of reasons, but I am writing to you concerning those aborted for the sole reason of a Down syndrome diagnosis—those who, if undiagnosed, would otherwise be born. Best Buddies International must speak out against the lethal, genocidal discrimination against those with disabilities in the womb because it stands in direct opposition to everything for which this (7) incredible organization so proudly and correctly stands.
This is a plea regarding the most harmful discrimination against the special needs community today—exclusion from life itself simply because of a disability diagnosis. As Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Best Buddies International, you can attest to the inherent value of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Best Buddies does an exemplary job of focusing on abilities, rather than disabilities, and advocating for inclusion all around the world. However, Best Buddies cannot advocate for the inclusion of those in society who are permanently excluded from even entering it, solely because of a disability diagnosis. No place, including a mother’s womb, is a place for discrimination.
You recently stated: “Best Buddies International prides itself on a culture of inclusion, equality, empowerment, and respect.” Is it inclusive and equal that babies prenatally diagnosed (8) with Down syndrome in some nations have next to no chance to survive, while other babies have roughly a three-out-of-four chance to survive the time in their mothers’ wombs? This disproportionate abortion rate devalues the lives of those living exceptionally happy lives with Down Syndrome. They not only proudly exist but also accomplish great feats! Finally, they (9) (10) should feel empowered as they beat the odds and are living proof that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities undoubtedly deserve the right to life!
Furthermore, this discrimination against pre-born babies with disabilities is eugenical. It is a (11) historically notorious and a very slippery slope. The eradication of babies (12) (13) with Down syndrome has been hidden, but it has not gone unnoticed. In fact, 70% of Americans oppose abortion due to the expectation that a child will be born with Down Syndrome.
Lila, (14) Rose, and Daniel Gade said, “That pre-born children in our nation today can be ripped limb from torso because they don’t live up to society’s commoditized view of humanity is a worldview that must be rejected.” Elimination is not a cure (15).
If you agree that this lethal discrimination is deplorable, you would likely ask, “What can Best Buddies do about this grave injustice?” Below are some potential courses of action:
- Continue sharing the numerous, inspirational stories of those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Celebrate adoption —a “win-win” alternative to abortion (16).
- Support the anti-discrimination features of bills like Tennessee House Bill 0077 that aim to end discrimination in the womb, and have our outstanding Ambassadors, leaders, etc. (17) testify in the committee phases.
- Utilize the resources of Best Buddies to inform women that are pregnant with a baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome that, contrary to societal bias, the baby will likely live a fulfilling life. (18)
- Denounce discriminatory abortions.
It may be expedient to choose silence now, but the silent screams of lethally discriminated babies cry out for equality and justice. Would you tell those living with Down Syndrome—many of whom are very proud members of Best Buddies—that their lives are not worth living?
Allow me to remind you of your own words: “There is strength in diversity,” “an inclusive, diverse world benefits us all,” and “Best Buddies will continue to cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion that recognizes and celebrates the inherent value of each individual regardless of their ability….” These words were written in regards to a different matter, but I beg you to be (19) consistent. You also stated, “And we will use our platform to amplify the voices of people who are repeatedly marginalized and excluded…”(19)
As awful as it is to be discriminated against in everyday life because of something you have absolutely no control over, it is far worse to be excluded from life itself for the same reason.
In remaining consistent with Best Buddies’s values and mission, you must amplify the voices of the voiceless. The community which Best Buddies International supports is being disproportionately exterminated through abortion. This silent, tragic genocide is not only globally accepted but also encouraged by many. If Best Buddies International refuses to speak up for the literal lives of its potential members who are being lethally discriminated against in the womb, then who will? I leave you with a declaration by Frank Stephens from his United States Congressional testimony: “Whatever you learn today, please remember this: I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living.”
Most Respectfully and In Friendship,
Stephen David Morris, Jr.
Auburn University Best Buddies
1 de Graaf, Gert, et al. “Estimates of the Live Births, Natural Losses, and Elective Terminations with Down Syndrome in the United States.” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, vol. 167, no. 4, 2015, pp. 756–767., doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.37001.
2 Quinones, Julian, and Arijeta Lajka. “‘What Kind of Society Do You Want to Live in?”: Inside the Country Where Down Syndrome Is Disappearing.” CBS On Assignment, CBS News, 14 Aug. 2017, www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/.
3 “Key Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide.” World Health Organization, Guttmacher Institute, www.who.int/reproductivehealth/news/440KeyAbortionFactsFinal.pdf?ua=1.
4 Natoli, Jaime L., et al. “Prenatal Diagnosis of Down Syndrome: a Systematic Review of Termination Rates (1995-2011).” Prenatal Diagnosis, vol. 32, no. 2, 14 Mar. 2012, pp. 142–153., doi:10.1002/pd.2910.
5 Kortsmit, Katherine, et al. “Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2018.” MMWR. Surveillance Summaries, vol. 69, no. 7, 2020, pp. 1–29., doi:10.15585/mmwr.ss6907a1.
6 “Down Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2018,
7 “Genocide.” Of ice on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, United Nations, www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.shtml.
8 Best Buddies. (@bestbuddies). “Best Buddies International prides itself on a culture of inclusion, equality, empowerment, and respect…” Instagram, 2 June 2020, www.instagram.com/p/CA6mdJejOxs/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.
9 Skotko, Brian G., et al. “Self-Perceptions from people with Down Syndrome.” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, vol. 155, no. 10, 9 Sept. 2011, pp. 2360–2369., doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.34235.
10 “List of People with Down Syndrome.” Wikipedia, 22 Feb. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_Down_syndrome. 11 Thomas, Gareth M., and Barbara Katz Rothman. “Keeping the Backdoor to Eugenics Ajar?: Disability and the Future of Prenatal Screening.” AMA Journal of Ethics, vol. 18, no. 4, 2016, pp. 406–415., doi:10.1001/journalofethics.2016.18.4.stas1-1604. 12 United States, Supreme Court. Buck v. Bell. United States Reports, vol. 274, 1927, pp. 200–207. Library of Congress, tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/ll/usrep/usrep274/usrep274200/usrep274200.pdf.
13 Grodin, Michael A., et al. “The Nazi Physicians as Leaders in Eugenics and ‘Euthanasia’: Lessons for Today.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 108, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 53–57., doi:10.2105/ajph.2017.304120.
14 “Americans’ Opinions on Abortion.” Knights of Columbus, The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, Jan. 2021, www.kofc.org/en/resources/news-room/polls/kofc-americans-opinions-on-abortion012021.pdf.
15 Rose, Lila, and Daniel Gade. “Disability-Based Abortion Is Lethal Discrimination.” The Hill, 9 Aug. 2019,
16 Lindh, Heidi L, et al. “Characteristics and Perspectives of Families Waiting to Adopt a Child with Down Syndrome.” Genetics in Medicine, vol. 9, no. 4, Apr. 2007, pp. 235–240., doi:10.1097/gim.0b013e31803d16d8.
17 Tennessee State, Legislature. House Bill 0077. Tennessee State Legislature, 18 June 2020, www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/111/Bill/HB0077.pdf. 18 de Graaf, Gert, et al. “Parents’ Perceptions of Functional Abilities in People with Down Syndrome.” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, vol. 179, no. 2, 24 Dec. 2018, pp. 161–176., doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.61004.
19 Best Buddies. (@bestbuddies). “Best Buddies International prides itself on a culture of inclusion, equality, empowerment, and respect…” Instagram, 2 June 2020, www.instagram.com/p/CA6mdJejOxs/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.
20 United States. Cong. Senate. An Act To amend the Public Health Service Act to increase the provision of scientifically sound information and support services to patients receiving a positive test diagnosis for Down syndrome or other prenatally and postnatally diagnosed conditions. 110th Cong., 2nd sess. S 1810. Washington: GPO, 2008.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.