First, I'd like to say "Happy Birthday!" to a pro-life zealot who has referred to abortion as "the horrible crime of child-murder" and wanted to "eradicate the most monstrous crime". Were she alive and active today, her anti-abortion fanaticism would surely invoke the ire of pseudo-feminist groups such as N.O.W. and N.A.R.A.L. NARAL, by the way, has just changed their name to "NARAL Pro-Choice America" hoping to upgrade their image by telling our refreshingly patriotic nation that America is pro-choice and NARAL is the queen of it. (Is it possible that they slept through last November's elections?) Call them Cleopatra. When you have to resort to subliminal messages to sell your philosophy I think it says something about your philosophy. At any rate, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Susan B. Anthony, feminist extraordinaire! You prove that pro-life feminism is not an oxymoron and that despite what others say, feminism at its very root most certainly does NOT equate abortion advocacy but quite the contrary! Kate Michelman, take note.
OK, next I'd like to say congrats to a friend who just became a beaming new aunt. Her sister had a scare last week (at 35 weeks pregnant) when the baby didn't pass the "kick test" for a day. She went to the ER where they couldn't find a heartbeat and thought the baby was dead. At the last minute they found it, and zipped Mom's tummy open to rescue the vulnerable little girl inside. Her birth is quite miraculous, not merely because she almost died, but because she was even allowed to live to 35 weeks in the first place. You see, aside from being the cutest little doll in the NICU, my friend's new 3-pound sweetie pie just happens to have Down Syndrome (DS). The parents have known for quite some time, but they accepted and loved their child just the way she was. In fact, because she has special needs, they found even more compassion for their child, not less. Their love has blessed them. (See "Love 101" at the bottom of my Feb. 2 entry.)
I know these days some courts have determined that the mere existence of certain children is a crime. I'm referring of course to the so-called "wrongful birth" law suits. In these cases parents complain to judges that their children should have been aborted. "We want money!" they angrily demand. If the doctor didn't catch the thickened nuchal skin fold on the sonogram, it is argued, the OB has revoked the woman's "right to choose", and the mother nearly always says she would have aborted her living child. I wonder how these parents go home and tuck the kid in at night after standing in a courtroom all day talking about how they would rather the child be dead. Two parents just got away with it in Canada. Lydia Zhang says the birth of her daughter (who has DS) "totally disrupted our plans". God forbid the birth of a child disrupt anyone's plans. The parents won $325,000.
How many of you caught Dateline NBC last month? Greg and Tierney Fairchild, abortion supporters, found out their first child had DS. They worried about the "unfair burden" the child would place on their imaginary "future children". They found out their baby would have to have heart surgery, and they were really leaning towards abortion. At the last minute Greg decided to call an adoption agency to find out how hard it is to find homes for children with DS. The agency said it was easy. Actually, I have a friend in Utah whose in-laws ONLY adopt children with DS. She told me there were adoptive parents waiting in line for these kids. The Michael Fund is one such waiting list. In Greg and Tierney's words: "One of the things we hadn't considered was that . . . someone else would love to have [this child] and was prepared to handle it." "[I]t even makes you question yourself. What is it exactly that I'm so worried about, if there are people lined up to adopt this baby?" Other people set a good example. They wanted this "unwanted" child and so established the intriguing concept that she might just be worth having. Greg and Tierney acquired knowledge and hope and were able to overcome their fear and disappointment with love. Their daughter has been a blessing to them for four years now.
In 1995 however, Linda Boom, a high school teacher, did not get to enjoy such a blessing because she believed her child would not have the kind of life worth living. She chose second trimester abortion as the final solution. In her case the method of choice was amnioinfusion. In this procedure, the abortionist removes some of the amniotic fluid and replaces it with a chemical solution (often a salt solution that burns the child to death). With Linda there was a procedural blunder and the solution got into the maternal bloodstream. Instead of poisoning only the baby to death the abortionist also poisoned Linda to death. Before she died she complained of "burning up all over". This poor woman lost her child and her life in a legal abortion. She succumbed to fear and disappointment and ended up paying a very dear price.
Our schizophrenic society is not blameless for the tragedy. On the one hand we are "ultra-sensitive" to those with special needs, coining new and more politically correct terms for them by the hour. We try and convince ourselves (and them) that our concern for them is genuine. On the other hand, we're elitists. We think their lives are hopeless or at least not as good as ours and we certainly don't blame people who don't want to be burdened with them. Even among those who generally do not support abortion there's a strange consensus that abortion for fetal anomaly is totally acceptable. I managed non-ambulatory kids one summer. I had a student with DS in there and though he threw tantrums and preferred junk food over vegetables like every other kid on the planet, he still smiled and laughed more than I do. Who is to say whose life is better lived?
My husband and I thought our son had DS because of what a perinatologist told us at a 20-week appointment. The nuchal fold was chubby, and he said that only 1% of the children he saw with our son's measurement DIDN'T have DS... meaning 99% did. "Go ahead and get an amnio today so you can 'take care of it' as soon as possible," he said. I think he was a little disappointed when I told him I'd let him take my arms and legs before I'd let him take my child. Meanwhile, the teaching hospital is equipped for special needs access. "We care about the person with special needs and so we have this special ramp... this ramp you can use to wheel your pregnant carcass up on your way to abort your 20-week-old DS baby per the good doctor's suggestion." It didn't end with doctors. We talked to others who said that when their children were born, instead of sending flowers, people sent apologies. One person told me some particularly cruel comments another mother made at a playground. Another said her doctor was disgusted that she wouldn't abort her child. Yeah, our culture really "cares" about those with special needs. Is it any wonder moms like Linda Boom get the impression that DS (or anything else) is hopeless and cave under the pressure and fear?
In the name of choice, over 90% of gestating children who have DS are not allowed to live in our world. So many mothers become mourners. However, there are still a few people out there who accept and love their children for who they are and don't judge valueless the life of a person with DS no matter what others may tell them. These parents don't want the mere concept of a "normal child", they want the actual child they carry. Instead of viewing their pregnancy as a curse, they take the blessing. People like Emily's mom reap what they sow, and that makes them (and their children) the luckiest people alive.