A 21-year-old woman with Down syndrome calmly stood before a gathering of the United Nations and told world leaders, “I have a right to live, and so do other people like me.”
Charlotte Helene Fiene, of Great Britain, was recently invited to the United Nations office in Geneva to talk about her condition and her opposition to aborting Down syndrome fetuses that have been identified by prenatal testing.
“I am not suffering,” she said. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down syndrome are suffering, either. We live happy lives.”
Fiene’s parents said they were told she would not walk before the age of 4, but Charlotte took her first steps at 15 months. They also said they were cautioned Charlotte would be in diapers until age 9, but she was potty-trained earlier than her brothers, who do not have the chromosomal disorder.
“We just have an extra chromosome,” Fiene said. “We are still human beings. We are human beings.”
She hopes to find a job and to live on her own, she said. She is an avid golfer and would like to teach the game to children.
The advocacy group Stop Discriminating Down posted video and photos of the event on their website.
“Don’t feel sorry for me," she told the assembly of world leaders. "My life is great!"
At the end of her speech, she received a standing ovation.