Every human life has value.

News out of Australia:

Pregnant women carrying a foetus with an abnormality are being denied abortions even when the defect is grounds for “non-treatment” after the baby is born, a leading obstetrician has warned…

Most parents opt to abort if a severe abnormality is found in a test, but Prof de Crespigny says access to the tests and termination varies depending on where they live, the values of the doctor involved and the determination of the woman…

The problem is that many abnormalities are picked up in ultrasounds at around 20 weeks gestation, and therefore require a later-term abortion which many doctors are reluctant to perform under current laws, he said.

Women in these situations are usually facing “wanted” pregnancies and though most opt to abort in the case of a fetal abnormality, it’s not as if it is an immediate reaction, or even a quick decision. That is why women in these situations must be encouraged to love and respect the child within them, disability and all even if that life lasts but a few moments outside the womb or doesn’t survive (naturally) long enough to see the light of day.

Suffering is a part of life. There are things we can do to try to limit suffering, but we can never eliminate it completely. Trying to eliminate our sufferings by running from the problem only perpetuates the darkness that surrounds us, especially when we violate human dignity to do so:

It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love. (from Spe Salvi, paragraph 37)

This is the love that is lost in society, the inability to accept our suffering members. Why? Because true love means sacrifice – sacrifice which requires the renunciation of self in such a way that we not only love the one who suffers, but we actually take on another’s suffering as our very own. This is shear terror for a society in which individuals just cannot be bothered by the problems of another, even one’s own child.

to accept the “other” who suffers,m means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also…Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love. (38)

Beyond all that, living with a loved one’s disease or disability is not all hardship and depression. Just look at the beautiful testimony of the father of a boy with Down syndrome that I linked to in a previous post.

Some bits are hard, some bits are easy, some bits are fun, some bits are a frightful bore. That’s true of life with Eddie, it’s also true of life with Joe. But you don’t even begin to break it up into categories: it is the one endless, complex business of being a parent. You don’t go into parenthood to make sure that the benefits outweigh the deficits: you go into it out of — brace yourself but no other word will do — love…

I can’t say I’m glad that Eddie has Down’s syndrome, or that I would wish him to suffer in order to charm me and fill me with giggles. But no, I don’t want his essential nature changed. Good God, what a thought. It would be as much a denial of myself as a denial of my son. What’s the good of him, then? Buggered if I know. The never-disputed terribleness of Down’s syndrome is used as one of the great justifications for abortion: abortion has to exist so that we don’t people the world with monsters. I am not here to talk about abortion — but I am here to tell you that Down’s syndrome is not an insupportable horror for either the sufferer or the parents…

I am here to tell everybody that Eddie is my son and he’s great.

January 22nd, 2008 at 9:38 am
3 Responses to “Women Denied the Right to Kill Their Disabled Pre-Borns”
  1. 1
    Christina Says:

    I had so hoped, when Christopher Reeve was first injured, that seeing him go on to live a productive life would help to dislodge the idea that a disability makes life so horrible that you’re better off dead. Alas, it was not to be.

  2. 2
    Chelsea Says:

    Christopher Reeve was not much of a champion for living with disabilities, seeing how most of his post injury life was spent trying to get out of his wheelchair – both through rigorous physical therapy and questionable drug treatments – and advocating for limitless embryo destructive scientific research. Though I have no doubt that his foundation has probably lead to advancements in the way people with disabilities live their lives.

  3. 3

    […] The other day I quoted from Pope Benedict’s encyclical, Spe Salvi, on self renunciation and the sacrifice that must be made for love: to accept the “other” who suffers,m means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, though, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love. The Latin word con-solatio, “consolation”, expresses this beautifully. It suggests being with the other in his solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude…Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love. (38) […]