Today on Tumblr I saw this lovely positive article about a woman with Down syndrome who is entering the Miss Minnesota pageant. She’s also a dancer, it’s generally an awesome and happy article. But part of it made me choke, not because there’s anything negative about it in itself but because of what it reminded me of:

Born six weeks early with Down syndrome and without an esophagus, a condition that required surgery, Holmgren has always been a “go-getter” who has never been defined by her disability, said her mother, Sandi Holmgren.

She was born with the same conditions as “Baby Doe” in this euthanasia case. 

Baby Doe died at six days old, of aspiration pneumonia, because his parents refused to allow his esophagus to be surgically fixed. Their doctor encouraged them to think that Baby Doe would only be a burden, that because of his Down syndrome, he would never accomplish anything even if he grew up physically healthy.

Some 30 years later, here’s a girl born with the same set of disabilities, in college, competing in a pageant and described as a “triple threat” talented dancer, actor and singer.

We often talk about how beneficial it is when parents support and encourage their children’s interests in things like sports, art and music, how parental belief in a child’s talents enables them to excel. It doesn’t usually mean the difference between life and death though.

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