24 April 2015

Photographer Challenges Ethics Surrounding Down Syndrome In Powerful Portraits

While photographer dad Alan Lawrence aims to show the joy his son Will, who has Down syndrome, has brought to his family via series ‘Wil Can Fly’, some parents may still find themselves in a dilemma on whether or not to go ahead with the pregnancy of an embryo detected with Down syndrome.

Icelandic photographer Sigga Ella gained inspiration for the series ‘First And Foremost I Am’, which showcases 21 portraits of individuals from nine months to 60 years of age with Down syndrome, after listening to a radio interview that covered the ethics involved in prenatal diagnosis.

Such testing enables the identification of birth defects, including Down syndrome, in embryos. The question then arises–who gets to decide if an abnormal embryo should be destroyed?

Ella had an aunt with Down syndrome and could not imagine the nonexistence of this relative, whom she loved very much.

Influence for the series title came from 24-year-old author Halldóra Jónsdóttir who has Down syndrome, and is featured in the collection.

According to Ella, these words from one of Jónsdóttir’s articles, in which she tackles similar moral questions, caught her attention. Jónsdóttir writes, “I have Down syndrome but FIRST AND FOREMOST I am Halldóra. I do a million things that other people do. My life is meaningful and good because I choose to be positive and see the good things in life”.

You can view some of the portraits from the series below. The entire collection can be found here.

[via Bored Panda, images via Sigga Ella]