In this time of coronavirus mayhem, it’s incredibly encouraging to hear amazing stories about what some people are doing to change the narrative. Eleonore Laloux is a young woman in France who hopes to become the first person with Down syndrome to hold a seat on the Arras town council. If she does, it may help change the perception of people with disabilities across the country and the world.
A couple of years ago, a video was pulled from French airways because it offended some of the audience. Called “Dear Future Mom,” the video featured children and adults with Down syndrome encouraging expectant mothers who have a preborn child with the condition. At the end of the video, each of them hugs their mothers.
It’s powerful, but the French CSA banned it from airways arguing that it would offend women who aborted a child because he or she had Down syndrome.
In France, currently 77% of preborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.
Across the world, it has become increasingly acceptable to abort children considered less than perfect. From spina bifida to trisomy 18 and Down syndrome, abortion is seen as the favorable option to “reduce the suffering” of the child outside the womb. It comes from this idea that life isn’t worth living if someone doesn’t have perfect health.
But none of us are perfect, nor is anyone guaranteed a life without suffering.
This poisonous idea has led to the growth of the assisted suicide, euthanasia and abortion. From that perspective, suffering should no longer be a part of life, but a task that must be avoided at all costs with death seen as the most favorable option.
If Eleonore is able to win, she will change some of that dark perspective.
In an interview with the BBC, Eleonore said, “It’s a right. The right to live like everyone else. … I think disabled people are kept apart, like they’re cocooned and it’s not good for them. They should be in an ordinary open environment. Like everyone else.”
Eleonore definitely practices what she preaches. She lives in a flat by herself and currently works at a hospital in an administration role. In addition to running for office, she is encouraging other community members with Down syndrome to find their voice and vote this year.
One community member that she has full support from is the town’s mayor, Frederique Leturque who has known Eleonore since she was a child.
“I saw her fight to go to school,” he said in an interview. “I saw her fight to defend inclusion and above all else, I see her success.”
As part of her campaign, she is focusing on accessibility, cleanliness and respect. She has even prepared ten proposals, which she has already presented to the mayor and received a favorable response.
“(We) are like everyone else,” Eleonore said. “(We) can do anything. And I know that with these hands I can help bring that open enviroment to them.”
No doubt, she’ll be a great encouragement to others.