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HAGELIN: Life isn’t perfect but should be cherished
Culture challenge of the week: Abortion as a “moral obligation”
Today’s science lets us begin to meet our children before they’re born. Ultrasound providers now offer 3-D and 4-D (more like a video) experiences, so parents cannot only see whether junior has Dad’s nose, but also whether he prefers doing back flips or front flips. “Meeting” the baby at 16, 22, or 28 weeks of gestation is such an amazing opportunity that grandparents and siblings often come for the show.
But our prenatal technology shows an increasingly dark side as well. DNA analysis of the unborn child provides amazing clues to his or her medical future. Doctors can zero in on disabilities in the womb with earlier and earlier diagnoses. Disturbingly, those diagnoses often become lethal — not because of the underlying condition, but because abortion becomes the recommended solution.
Nowhere is this more true than with Down syndrome. Prenatal diagnosis affords parents a prime chance to plan ahead for their special-needs child. Too often — 85 percent to 90 percent of the time, according to a 1998 Michigan study — they use that opportunity to turn back on their decision to have the child, a child “too needy” for them to bear.
It’s an odd thing. The liberal agenda promotes the abortion of disabled children under the guise of compassion. What really is being promoted is their own criteria for what makes life worth living.
Consider, for example, a recent article in RH Reality Check, an online journal promoting reproductive “justice.” It makes the case that abortion is a “moral imperative” when a child faces a lifetime of disabilities. The pro-abortion author takes issue with an article posted on the Christianity Today blog for women, celebrating parents who choose life for their unborn Down syndrome child. The RH Reality Check author departs from reality into imagining, however, as she disputes the idea that parents can ever really find joy in parenting a child with Down syndrome. Worse, she finds it unfathomable that a disabled child can experience a life worth living.
In an astonishing display of twisted logic, she asserts that it’s more “respectful” of a disabled person to kill him or her than to give birth: “When you argue that children with Down syndrome are ‘special gifts’ or that raising them is a ‘rewarding experience’ for parents, you are appropriating their difficulties and fetishizing their difference. That is the opposite of respecting a disabled person.”
Actually, the opposite of respecting a disabled person would be killing them simply because they don’t measure up to your standards.
Abortion advocates can’t stomach the thought that life is good, for its own sake. The Reality Check writer asserts that, “Responsible, moral reproductive choices involve doing the hard math and yes, making decisions to either give your child the best possible long, independent life or to terminate the pregnancy early if you know you can’t.”
To them, abortion is a must when life can’t be what they’ve envisioned — either for themselves or for the child yet unborn. And that, ultimately, is what their argument rests on — freedom to do what they want, unencumbered by the needs or rights of others. The “good life,” then, requires independence and longevity. A person who requires care, especially burdensome care, ruins everything.
It’s an argument that falls flat. There isn’t one of us who won’t depend on the care and assistance of others numerous times in life — at the very least during childhood, but typically in old age as well.
Forget disability — dependence is built into all human life. And that’s a good thing. It teaches us what it means to love, and to be loved.
How to save your family: Define life worth living
Teach your children that life is good, in and of itself. It doesn’t become less cherished because it’s less independent or less pain-free.
Down syndrome children inspire a self-centered society to look beyond ourselves and the imposed ideas of “perfect.” Their contagious joy challenges our world to see life in simpler terms, beyond the pressured chase for the best grades or the dream job. They don’t define life by its burdens, and neither should we.
Life is a blessing not because of our power to be independent, but because of the uncontainable power of God’s love and the love of those around us.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at email@example.com.
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