This is a quote from a leading academic in the 1960’s:

“People [...] have no reason to feel guilty about putting a Down's syndrome baby away, whether it's "put away" in the sense of hidden in a sanitarium or in a more responsible lethal sense. It is sad; yes. Dreadful. But it carries no guilt. True guilt arises only from an offence against a person, and a Down's is not a person.” [1]

This is what our interviewees thought of the quote, how it made them feel, and what they would say to the speaker if he were still alive.

Sarah Gordy

That’s very negative, he should not have said that. He’s not looking at what we see. Yes, it was back in the 1960’s, but  you don’t want to hear that. I would tell him not to be prejudice, respect people like me and other people who have a disability.

Rahima

Not good. It feels restrictive. Why should people be put away like that? They want to live like a normal person. That’s wrong, you shouldn’t treat people like that.

Ellen

It’s not nice at all. Because I have Down’s syndrome it wouldn’t be very nice for me to be put away, I want to be included like everybody else. I would tell him to rewrite it and say that all people with Down’s syndrome should be included in everything

Aeren

You’re wrong. There are loads of successful people with Down’s syndrome, like Sarah Gordy. People with Down’s are unique and special and they are lovely people to meet and have a laugh with, they have their own personality. Look back at your family. You probably don’t have Down’s but you might have someone in your family that has a learning disability or you might have one yourself that’s undiagnosed. You still have people who think like that today. To anyone that has a problem with special needs or disability look around you, there is probably someone around you or in your family that has one already.

Richard

That’s horrible. How could you say that to a person who has Down’s syndrome? That’s disgusting. If I saw that person I would say Excuse me, why are you talking like that? I would say you should feel guilty for putting a Down’s syndrome person away. How about I put you away?

Esther

I would say: “What gives you the right to judge us? How would you like it if your child had a disability? I’d reverse it back to them.”

References

[1] Quote by Joseph Fletcher, taken from 'The Right to Die' by Bernard Bard and Joseph Fletcher, Atlantic Monthly, 221, p. 59-64, April 1968 (http://www.riverbendds.org/index.htm?page=fletcher.html accessed 20/10/2016)

Here I Am: Ellen

Ellen is an actor and enjoys writing plays as well as going out with her friends
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Here I Am: Sarah Gordy

Sarah is an actor, dancer and model, who likes going to the cinema and nightclubs as well as Brighton beach
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Here I Am: Richard and Esther

Richard and Esther feel that more education and understanding is needed around learning disability
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