CHESTERFIELD, Mo.— When Missouri Sen. John Loudon and his wife, Gina, decided to adopt their third child, they knew three things: They wanted a little boy, they would name him Samuel and he would have Down syndrome.
“This was always part of the plan,” said Gina Loudon as their now 3-year-old Sammy darted in and out of the living room in his slippers, giggling loudly.”We didn’t know much about how it was going to happen, but we just knew.”
The politically active couple with deep roots in the anti-abortion movement said their passion for Sammy spurred them to take legislative action on behalf of children with Down syndrome. It also put them in the center of an ongoing national discussion about genetic testing, the acceptance of people with disabilities and the type of information about Down syndrome that new or expecting parents were getting from their doctors.
Various studies estimate that 80 to 90 percent of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome through genetic testing choose to abort the fetus. Researchers believe this is the cause behind an 8 percent decline in people with Down syndrome in the United States in the past two decades.