Smith: That face ... and that precious life

Smith: That face ... and that precious life

February 12th, 2018 by Robin Smith in Opinion Columns

Lucas Warren, of Dalton, Ga., is Gerber Products Company's 2018 Spokesbaby.

Lucas Warren, of Dalton, Ga., is Gerber Products...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Robin Smith

Robin Smith

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Way to go Gerber Products. In an announcement that the son of Cortney and Jason Warren was selected as the "cutest baby" in the company's photo contest, Gerber reminded us that life is dear.

The Dalton, Ga., parents joined tens of thousands of other parents who submitted a photo of their babies to the company for its eighth annual photo contest. More than 140,000 photos were entered, but only one, and in this case, a unique one, won the top spot as Gerber 2018 Spokesbaby.

Lucas Warren, now 18 months old, won the hearts of the selection committee. In his photo, Lucas wore a mint green collared shirt and a black bow tie splashed with coordinating polka dots. His bare feet poked out from his white britches. Oh, but that face, set with an infectious smile as the Times Free Press' Tyler Jett described: "It's a big, abandon-everything kind of smile. Mouth open, tongue creeping out. Dimples pressed into chubby cheeks."

Yep, Lucas is a cutie-pie. And, Lucas made history by becoming the first Gerber baby who has Down syndrome.

The Warren family loves their bundle of energy and love, and so did Gerber, which will feature Lucas' face on social media marketing and other promotional items throughout the year. Lucas' mother and father also get a $50,000 prize.

Bill Partyka, the chief executive officer and president of Gerber, attributed the pick of Lucas, as reported by The Washington Post, to his smile.

"Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber's long-standing heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby," he said.

Thank you, Warren family and others, who see the life in your child with special needs instead of the obstacles.

Contrast this view and acceptance to that of the nation of Iceland, where Down syndrome has almost been eradicated in recent births, not as a result of a scientific discovery or revolutionary approach to gene repair but because aggressive prenatal screening that began in the early 2000s has resulted in almost all mothers carrying a Down syndrome child choosing abortion.

In a CBS news article, geneticist Kari Stefansson, the founder of deCODE Genetics, a company that has studied nearly the entire Icelandic population's genomes, notes the very "heavy-handed genetic counseling" in the country's "universal health care system," which covers all citizens with government-run insurance. The scientist warned about the approach in birth selection: "I don't think there's anything wrong with aspiring to have healthy children, but how far we should go in seeking those goals is a fairly complicated decision."

Yes, the abortion rate in Iceland for babies with Down syndrome is almost 100 percent, but America's "termination rate" from 1995 to 2011 was 67 percent, according to the CBS report on the North Atlantic country's almost standard decision to abort Down syndrome babies.

Let's applaud the Warren family, along with countless others. Having children with any disability is forever life-changing. Loving these children despite their diagnosis or condition is an act of grace, sacrifice and unconditional love.

Gerber made a great decision that will add a new dimension to its marketing. But as humankind, let's make sure our pursuit of a healthy and viable society doesn't eliminate life, both in the womb and in the aging years of life.

Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, owns Rivers Edge Alliance.

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