A long distance swimmer who relay swam the English Channel, and an impressive and witty public speaker, Ms Gaffney is the first living person with Down Syndrome to receive an honorary doctorate.
She has captured global attention, not only for her personal achievements but for her work on inclusion for people with Down Syndrome and her challenge to a culture where babies with Down Syndrome are increasingly aborted before birth. Her message to the world is that All Lives Matter, and she challenges the trend which is eliminating people with Down Syndrome before they are born.
“Imagine that here we are reversing the damage caused by institutions, removing barriers to education, making inroads into a full and inclusive life for people like me, and still we have those who say we shouldn’t even be born at all,” Ms Gaffney told an audience at a Ted Talk in Portland.She says that people with Down Syndrome were now achieving success as “musicians and artists, golfers, models, public speakers, and good employees making a contribution to society” but that the race was on to find newer, faster ways to diagnose the condition before birth and that those pregnancies were all-too-often terminated.
“I believe that Down Syndrome is a life worth saying ‘yes’ to. It is a life worth saving. Every life has value, every life matters, regardless of how many chromosomes you have,” she says.