LIFE DIGEST: Retailers lauded for featuring child with Down syndrome

By Tom Strode
Jan 31, 2012

Two major retailers – Target and Nordstrom – have been commended by pro-lifers , as well as advocates for – and parents of – special needs children, for featuring a model who was born with Down syndrome.

Target included Ryan Langston, 6, of New Jersey alongside other children in an early January ad. Ryan, who lives in New Jersey, was also featured beside other child models in a Nordstrom catalog last year.

Also in this edition: Illinois resumes inspections; two abortion clinics close, States report abortion decreases for 2010, and PPFA purchases own office space for $34.8 million.

Parents of children with Down syndrome expressed appreciation, especially for the retailers’ decision not to bring attention to Ryan’s condition.

“The greatest thing that Nordstrom and Target are doing is that they’re not making any reference to his disability. He’s just another cute kid,” said Jim Langston, Ryan’s father, according to Disability Scoop, a website that reports on developmental disability news.

Rick Smith of Dallas, Texas, has a 1-year-old son, Noah, with Down syndrome. His website and blog, titled Noah’s Dad, is a chronicle of his family’s experience in rearing a child with Down syndrome. In a Jan. 2 post on his blog, Smith cited some things Target, like Nordstrom before it, said by having Ryan in its ad, including:

  • “They said that people born with Down syndrome deserve to be treated the same as every other person on this planet.
  • “They said that it’s time for organizations to be intentional about seeking creative ways to help promote inclusion, not exclusion. (It’s no accident that Target used a model with Down syndrome in this ad; it was an intentional decision. If [we] want the world to be a place where everyone is treated equal we can’t just sit around and watch the days tick away. We have to be intentional. We have to do something.)
  • “They said that companies don’t have to call attention to the fact that they choose to be inclusive in order for people to notice their support for people with disabilities. In fact, by not making a big deal out of it they are doing a better job of showing their support for the special needs community.
  • “They said it’s important for the world to see people born with disabilities with a fresh set of eyes. That it’s time for us to lay down all the inaccurate stereotypes from the past and move forward embracing the future with true and accurate ones.”

The retailers’ embrace of a child model with Down syndrome comes at a time when an estimated 90 percent of unborn children in the United States diagnosed with the condition are aborted.

Down syndrome normally results when a person has three copies, rather than two, of chromosome 21.

Illinois resumes inspections; two abortion clinics close

Some Illinois abortion clinics have not received state inspections in as many as 16 years, but renewed scrutiny has resulted in the permanent shutdown of two centers in recent months.

The report came as a result of information received by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Northern Illinois Women’s Center, which opened in 1973, announced its closure Jan. 13, as was reported earlier in Life Digest. It had been closed since Sept. 30, when the state suspended the clinic’s license for health and safety violations found during inspections in June and September.

The Women’s Aid Clinic in Lincolnwood, a Chicago suburb, closed in October when the owner chose to forfeit its license instead of paying a $36,000 fine or initiate a battle in court, AP reported Jan. 20. The state’s inspection of the clinic last year – which uncovered health and safety violations — was the first in 15 years.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the lag in inspections is based on a shortage of funding and inspectors, according to AP. The department began an effort to inspect abortion clinics last year, visiting all nine that are considered pregnancy termination centers.

The state has not inspected other clinics that perform abortions but are categorized as ambulatory surgery centers. In addition, a third type of medical facility that performs abortions – and includes Planned Parenthood clinics – is not licensed by the state and is not the subject of inspections, AP reported.

Even Sharon Levin, vice president of the National Abortion Federation, told AP 15 years between state inspections is “too long.”

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-life Action League, said the state should regulate all abortion clinics and should strengthen its inspections.

Illinois has demonstrated “a systematic unwillingness to step away from the ideology and look at these facilities objectively,” he told AP.

States report abortion decreases for 2010

Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania all recently reported decreases in abortions in 2010.

Illinois’ total dropped from 2009 by 4, 218 abortions, a decline of 9 percent, reported. It is the lowest total since 1973, according to the report.

Missouri reported a decline of 1,019 abortions, a 9.4 percent drop, according to LifeNews.

Pennsylvania’s abortion total fell by 506, a decrease of 1.4 percent, according to The Patriot-News, a central Pennsylvania newspaper.

PPFA purchases own office space for $34.8 million

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has purchased the office space it previously leased as its national headquarters for $34.8 million.

The organization, which is the country’s largest abortion provider, bought the 104,000-square-foot office that it had leased in New York City reportedly since 2002, The Real Deal reported Jan. 24. The office is in a 200,000-square-foot building. The Real Deal is a magazine that covers real estate news in New York City.

PPFA and its affiliates received government grants, contracts and reimbursements that totaled $487.4 million in 2009-10. PPFA’s affiliates reported their clinics did 329,445 abortions in 2010, their first drop in 15 years.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission works to protect the sanctity of human life. If you would like to learn more about this issue, additional resources are available here. Our free, downloadable Impact resource is also available online. If your church is interested in purchasing materials on the sanctity of human life, please visit our online bookstore and

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