March 9, 2011

Saintly Scientist

He was the brilliant young French geneticist who discovered the cause of Down syndrome

and one day, he decided, “I cannot accept abortion,” not because he is Christian, but because he knows as a geneticist that life starts at conception. And he had to say it. He had to protect the ones whom they want to kill, who are too young to protect themselves.

So he started this fight as a scientist, saying, “I have to tell the truth. I’m not judging anyone; I’m not saying anything else besides the truth of the science, and I have to testify about that.”

I  remember it so clearly. I was 10 years old, and, one day, he came home for lunch. The day before, on television, there was a movie about a family where a woman had a child with Down syndrome, and she wanted to abort, and she couldn’t do it then.

After, there was a debate about abortion of the diseased children, and a boy came to his consultation with his mom, and he was crying, and my father said, “Why are you crying?” And his mother said, “He saw the movie, and I couldn’t stop him crying,” and then he jumped in my father’s arms, and he was only 10 with Down syndrome. He said, “
You know, they want to kill us. And you have to save us, because we are too weak, and we can’t do anything.” And [my father] came back home for lunch, and he was white, and he said, “If I don’t protect them, I am nothing.” That’s how it started.

And then his career came down. He didn’t have money for his research. He was like a pariah, and so on, but he accepted that because he thought he was doing that which was his duty.

Remembering Jerome Lejeune, now declared a "Servant of God" whose cause for sainthood is now being postulated.

Posted by Jill Fallon at March 9, 2011 7:15 AM | Permalink