By now you might have heard or seen that the Gerber company has announced 18-month-old Lucas Warren as the winner of its 2018 Gerber Baby Photo Search. The toddler, who is from Dalton, Georgia, is the first ever child with Down syndrome selected as the iconic baby food business’s “Gerber Spokesbaby.”
“It’s very humbling,” Jason Warren, Lucas’ father, told the press. “Who knew our child was going to touch so many people and make that many people smile? We’re loving what everybody is saying about our little boy. Lucas is loving it – he’s loving all these new people he gets to wave at.”
Gerber isn’t the first company to highlight a child with special needs. In 2011, Nordstrom featured a boy named Ryan in its advertisements. He also has Down syndrome. Target also highlighted this same youngster in a series of print promotions.
All of these ads have garnered nearly universal praise, and rightly so. Children with an extra chromosome are among the sweetest you will ever meet. In fact, somebody once said that if these individuals lack anything, it’s the “mean” gene. Their affable and lovable nature is contagious.
So if everybody is cheering these companies for championing these children, why are preborn children with Down syndrome in such grave danger?
In the United States, it’s estimated that nearly 70 percent of children who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are aborted. Last year I wrote about the horror in Iceland, where some have touted the virtual disappearance of the condition – achieved by eliminating preborn babies who have it.
It’s a chilling reality, and one that seems to make no sense given the positive response that Lucas, Ryan and other children have elicited.
Back in the 1920s, when Gerber featured Ann Turner Cook as its first baby, the condition now known as Down syndrome was called “mongolism” – a term now considered racist due to its origins. J. Langdon Down, a 19th-century English physician, said the condition was caused by a “reversion” to the “mongoloid race.” He actually contended it was caused by reverse evolution, and that those who had it were backsliding from the “superior” Caucasian race to the “inferior” Asian one.
Shocking and disturbing, no?
Of course it is.
That sort of thinking reminds me of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Wikipedia refers to Sanger as an “American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse” – but that’s a sanitized and distorted view of reality.
Sanger is often lauded as a pioneer for women’s rights, with many praising her for denouncing “enforced motherhood” – the notion that a pregnant woman shouldn’t be required to carry a baby she doesn’t want. Yet in actuality, most fair-minded scholars refer to Sanger as a social Darwinist and eugenicist. In a 1921 article she wrote, “The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”
In a 1957 interview with famed journalist Mike Wallace, Sanger said, “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things, just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin that people can commit.”
So with Gerber’s recent announcement, are we finally turning the corner on this evil, eugenics-type practice? Surely this is the way to pray.
Images have the power to revolutionize and transform hearts and minds. Deliberately or inadvertently, Gerber has affirmed what millions of people believe: Every child deserves to live. Every child is worthy of dignity and respect. I applaud Gerber for their decision to shine the light on the beauty of children with Down syndrome.
It’s my hope and prayer that Lucas’ bright smile and captivating eyes will soften the hard hearts of those who want to rid the world of Down syndrome by eliminating the precious babies who are born with it. God has a plan and purpose for everyone, especially children with Down syndrome.
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family broadcast. His daily column is available at JimDalyBlog.com.