Nick’s father said about first seeing his newborn son, “I just thought, ‘What kind of life will he have? I just thought he would lie there like a vegetable”.
Nick says, “I feel like I’ve accomplished more than most 25-years olds and that I’ve had a more fulfilling life than the average person…I know I have no arms and legs, but I don’t feel disabled.”
Too many stories are surfacing in the news lately of parents who want to abort their “defective” babies. Babies who were even wanted before the defects were discovered.
There is the tragic story of a young woman who, even after naming and registering her “very wanted baby”, aborted at 33 weeks, and then died herself.
Today I read of a couple who hired a surrogate and then discovered, at five months, that their baby girl had heart defects and pressured the surrogate mother to abort the active child within her. She refused and fled the state to protect its life. (The now-one-year-old girl has been adopted by a new family.)
According to one study, “as many as four out of every 1000 recognized pregnancies are terminated in the second trimester for fetal abnormality” as discovered during prenatal diagnostic testing. The deVeber Institute
At least 70% of babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down’s are aborted.
What won’t leave me is the irony and the justification given for these deaths.
“It’s not fair to do that to a child.” (As if we are able to predict, with any accuracy, what that child’s life will be like, or that we should even try to define “a fulfilling life”.) How can it be noble to claim I am “protecting” a child by killing it?
“Be merciful, like God, and terminate the pregnancy.” (That was what the birth parents told the surrogate in the above referenced story. She was also told by others that she was “being cruel” to carry the child to term; the child who, despite her defects, plays and appears to be just as happy as any other child.)
So many are willing to defend the right to kill a child who isn’t even born based on an undetermined assumption of “health and well-being”.
The irony is this: people born with disabilities are good for US, and they rarely “suffer” as much as an average person might during his lifetime. God works mysteriously through suffering, without which, we would become (and are becoming) a cold, calloused, self-absorbed people. It is not our job to avoid suffering that comes by supernatural means; it is our job to protect, love and defend those who suffer, and enjoy the blessing that comes, unexpectedly, from that.
Ask any parent with a Down’s syndrome child or other disability, about the added joy and enrichment he has brought to the lives of all he touches. And then ask him about that child’s “suffering”, his “unfair” life because he has a disability.
One of the most moving stories I’ve ever read is The Power of the Powerless, a story of Oliver, a boy born severely disabled, dependent on his family for his most basic needs. A “vegetable”, as his brother explains. And yet the power Oliver had, not only on his family and friends, but now the world over, through the testimony of his brother, is utterly astounding. A power that continues, now years after Oliver’s death. Caring for Oliver’s every need ENRICHED the people in his life. He was born for them, for us.
We must not, we cannot, let our assumptions cause us to play God, taking the lives of these valuable human beings. We must fight for the powerless.
May I suggest we all have disabilities, most much worse than those suffering from a physical one.
Our selfishness and fear has driven us to justify what has become America’s greatest shame.
Every life is full of potential.
And for more incredible inspiration, there’s The Drop Box