Man With Down Syndrome to Congressional Committee: ‘My Life Is Worth Living’

Frank Stephens, a man with Down syndrome and an advocate for those with the genetic disorder, told a congressional committee on Wednesday that his life is "worth living" as he criticized those who believe fetuses with Down syndrome should be aborted.

Stephens testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies to discuss the state of medical research on Down syndrome. He directly addressed those who believe fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome should be aborted, a practice common in some countries such as Iceland and Denmark.

Iceland is close to eliminating Down syndrome births through abortion. Since the introduction of prenatal screening tests to the country in the early 2000s, close to 100 percent of women whose pregnancies test positive for Down syndrome have chosen to have an abortion.

"Whatever you learn today, please remember this: I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living," Stephens told lawmakers on the committee.

"I completely understand that the people pushing this particular ‘final solution' are saying that people like me should not exist," Stephens said. "That view is deeply prejudiced by an outdated idea of life with Down syndrome."

Stephens mentioned some of his accomplishments, including his award-winning film and television career and speaking tours, before joking about visiting the White House.

"I have been to the White House twice and I didn't have to jump the fence either time," Stephens said.

"Seriously, I don't feel I should have to justify my existence," he added. "Is there really no place for us in the world?"

Stephens then spoke about how Down syndrome may help with dementia and cancer research, as well as how families with someone with Down syndrome are happier than most others in society.