For a long time, children with downs syndrome were encouraged to be terminated during pregnancy by doctors since they were said not to be able to lead a quality life like all other children would. Just last year, Iceland made headlines for almost eliminating down syndrome within its borders, this horrifying revelation means that many children had been aborted. Mirka Anderson, was living in Cambridge, England 30 years ago, when she learnt that was pregnant. She didn’t have the usual health screenings, so it wasn’t until after her daughter, Emma’s, birth that she got to learn of some shocking news from a staff member at Rosie Hospital.
Mirka told Cambridge News. “The consultant told me and my then husband she had Down’s Syndrome. She said, ‘You don’t have to take her home because she won’t do anything anyway.’” Terrified by the doctor’s insensitive attitude, Mirka took her baby home. Throughout Emma’s life, Mirka fought to ensure she received an equal education like all the other kids. Emma flourished in her education, she earned a General Certificate of Secondary Education in art, proving to the naysayers she was very capable of success.
Mirka said, “When she was younger, we were told she couldn’t go to a normal playgroup with other children. I pushed for her to go to the mainstream group, and in the end, she did. I am from communist Poland, so we are used to jumping red tape. Throughout her schooling, all I asked for was for her to be given a chance.”
Finally, in 2005, Mirka’s determination to see her child succeed paid off. Emma was attending Cambridge regional College, when one of the staff there entered some of her art in a competition at Tate Modern art gallery and it won! Emma was one of only two students chosen to have her art featured in the prestigious gallery.
Mirka said, “It was very damaging as a mother who had just given birth to be told your baby is a useless piece of flesh. Look at her now. She’s a super kid.”
After learning about Emma’s success and how well she was doing in life, a spokesman for Rosie Hospital said, “We are extremely surprised and concerned to hear about these comments, and we would, even though it is over 33 years ago, invite Mrs. Anderson to contact us to discuss her experience. We are, of course, delighted to see Emma’s achievement of having her artwork displayed at the Tate Modern.”