Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Child Must Die So You May Live As You Wish

Hit the link above, search abortion downs syndrome, read the article called "one woman's choice", then come back. We'll still be here. (I couldn't directly link to it...stupid WashPost!)

OK, so now that you've read it, let's "discuss" (as they used to say on SNL). First off, I must say that the last line of the piece of rather chilling, at least for me....that the author is convinced she "did the right thing for the three of us." OK, maybe the right thing for the *two* of you, but I certainly doubt that death was the best choice for your unborn son (to whom you had already given a name...clearly acknowledging his 'personhood'. Mmmm....). But what really gets me, as those of you who know me know, is the fact that she clearly wasn't willing to make the sacrifices required to raise her son. Just because he *may* have Downs Syndrome (and we all know that pre-natal tests can be wrong), doesn't mean that his life isn't worth living. It will still have value, beauty, worth, and can be fantastic. But a lot of that is up to his parents and the environment they surround him in. Already his mother decided that it wasn't worth it. Sure, she tries to cloak it in the soothing talk of the pro-choicers, that by killing him he's avoiding the pain that will come from his life, the struggles that will undoubtedly ensue as this burden comes upon them. but the thing is, it doesn't have to be a burden.

Time for some true confessions. I was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), although I wasn't diagnosed until I was 11, which makes me a late-comer to the CF party. In July I had a double lung transplant and am doing really well. But for twelve years, we battled CF daily in my house. There were hospital stays, IV therapy, pulmonary therapies, hospital stays, surgeries, the whole nine yards. A lot of people would look at that and go "no way would I ever willingly put someone through all that." But here's the thing. In between the hospital stays and the home IV regimens, I managed to do quite a bit. I graduated with honors from high school. I dated (I even got engaged...but that didn't work out so well). I sang in honors choirs. I wrote for my high school and college papers. I was a double major in college and finished in four years. I was in two honor societies, a fraternity (of which I was a founding member of our college chapter), Vice-Chair and Chair of multiple organizations, including Student Government and College Republicans. I've been to D.C. and New York City on New Year's Eve. I'm a godmother. I have some of the best friends a girl could ask for. I now have a job I love doing what I love to do. No one could say that my life was "unfulfilled" or "a burden". I am perfectly happy with my life and love it. But if this woman had been my mother, I'd never have had a chance to do all that. Sure, CF doesn't affect your mind/nervous system, like Downs Syndrome does. But I've met some Downs Syndrome kids in my time at Children's, and they're great. Most kids will serious illnesses are great kids...brave, sweet, genuinely caring and compassionate. They're awesome--I've known a lot of them. At the same time, though, they're just like all other kids, too. They want to watch SpongeBob and find Nemo and look at the fish in the hospital aquariums and race down the hall in wagons.

People can get so caught up in the "downside" of disability or illness that they forget that behind the labels are real people who are just like them. Sure, part of their bodies may not function properly, but does that means that we get to kill them before they've had a chance to live and contribute, and to enact the plan that God has for them? I don't care who you are or where you live or what you do. God has a plan for each of us and we've no right to mess with it. Especially for the youngest among us. I suppose the author didn't take into account how rewarding raising a kid with an illness could be. You learn a lot from them about perserverance and what really matters in life. But that never seems to enter into the equation. it's all about "me"--how will this afffect me, how will this change my life, my schedule, my this, my that. And it's sad, because even if you don't want the child, so many others would take him in an instant and love them. I know I would. It's tough sometimes. I won't deny that. Life hasn't been all "sunshine and Santa Clause." But it's been good.

Kids with disabilities/genetic diseases/ etc. are becoming an endangered species, which some would say is a good thing, like Scrooge in a Christmas Carol; we're "decreas[ing] the surplus population." But no one is "surplus", at least in God's eyes. And in the eyes of Catholics, and other Christians, it should be the same. No Christian should support abortion. It is in direct vioaltion of God's Law. What we do to "the least of these", we do to Christ. And I shudder at the idea of what Christ thinks of the daily murders of millions of His children. I wonder if I would've made it out of the womb, had I been given to a different family. Probably, I think...things were different in 1982 (at least medical science wasn't so advanced). I was given the chance to live. And it's a chance being denied millions every year in our country because of women like this author, who think that she's doing "what is best." I feel bad for her....I feel the genuine grief she's going through. But at the same time, this all could have been avoided. There was another way. She just didn't see it through the haze of self-protection.

Don't mess with God's work. It just doesn't work out. Who knows what kind of children we've been killing? There's that old argument that one of them probably would've been the next Mozart, or the scientist who found a cure for AIDS or cancer or something. That may be true (although I don't think there will ever be a next Mozart, but I digress). But there also would've been a lot of just plain good people who love their dogs and their kids and their spouses and their God and who read the paper on Sunday morning and voluteer at the local library. Sure there would've been some dogs in there--a rapist, career criminal, what have you--but I think the overwhelming sense is that they would have been *good*. But we'll never know, because we never got a chance to know them.


Lee Strong said...

This issues bugs me too. I comment on it in my blog (From the back pew). I used to work in a home for developmentally disabled adults - many with Down syndrome - and at a Rotary Sunshine camp. My life was richer for working/playing/laughing with everyone there.

Fidei Defensor said...

This was a very moving post and a noble sumary of what the culture of life JP II spoke of is all about.