Aren’t people with Down Syndrome allowed to look happy?

An ad featuring people with Down Syndrome has been banned by the TV regulator in France, who recently saw his ban upheld by the country’s Council of State. What, you might ask, was the ad about? It must have been pretty offensive, right? Maybe targeting or mocking the people in question?

Well, judge for yourself –

Yep. This touching, heart-warming, utterly upbeat (not to mention award-winning) ad can’t be shown anymore. It was made to make World Down Syndrome Day in 2014 and has amassed over 7 million views on YouTube since. But it touches on a theme which is sadly becoming more and more controversial in today’s world – the worth of people with Down Syndrome.

Just when we think we’re making great strides in some areas of awareness, a decision like this comes along. Launched by Italy’s CoorDown and Saatchi & Saatchi, it was conceived when a mother expecting a baby with Down Syndrome write to CoorDown saying she was scared about the kind of life her baby would have. That a TV regulator would determine that the answers in this ad are something to be banned is a sad reflection on the state of our society and how it still views people with this condition and their families.

Every time a new advocate comes along for the condition, another challenge presents itself. People are still raving about Sally Phillips’ touching documentary, “A world without Downs?” which considered how it might feel to have Down Syndrome and live in a world where scientists devote their time to perfecting the pre-screening test that identified Down Syndrome so that an abortion can be offered. And that, one has no choice but to conclude, is the real reason why this ad is causing problems.

An article in the Le Monde newspaper suggests that it might upset women who have had abortions. This is undoubtedly true. After all, abortion regret is a very sad – and prevalent phenomenon – in today’s world, but taking this action is hardly the way to treat it. Out of sight does not equal out of mind for families who have been affected by abortion. Banning this ad will not ease abortion regret but it will cause misery to families who already feel the shock of a global society that has allowed Denmark to set itself a goal of being “Down Syndrome free” by 2030. In England and Wales, 90% of babies diagnosed with the condition in the womb are aborted. That figure rises to 100% in Iceland but really, while these are horrific statistics, are they are any wonder, when there is so little encouragement given to families?


That was the aim of this ad – to provide hope and to dispel the fears of one mother who was trying to see a bright future for her baby. The fact that these attempts were so badly received by the establishment in France is a very sinister attempt to remove any hope and in so doing, make it ever more possible for the parents of babies with Down Syndrome to see their children as another Karen Gaffney, or Madeline Stuart – or just one of the supremely happy, supremely loved people in the ad.

  • Conchita

    Thanks, Cora.
    Keep going with your wonderful calm and sensible approach.