(The picture you see in the header is the subject of this post. He’s eating spaghetti all by himself. Thought the orange cheeks needed some explanation.)
I usually don’t write “off the cuff” but today I am. I am reacting to something that was reported on the news yesterday. I knew it anyway but hearing it again made me so sad.
But let’s back up a little.
As most of you know if you’ve read this post that my youngest grandson, Lukey, age 7, has Down syndrome. I look back now and wonder why that post was hard to write. I guess because it was all too new then.
Here he is on his first day in kindergarten.
My daughter and her husband fought hard to get in public school but they kept at it all last summer. Not only is he adjusting, he’s doing far better than anyone would have thought. He is the school favorite and everyone there, parents and teachers alike, tell my daughter how much they have learned and how glad they are he is there.
The news report I heard yesterday was that Gerber foundation (the baby food people), for the first time ever, picked a child with disabilities to be the “Gerber baby”. His name is Lucas. Funny, huh? But that report also went on to say that, are you ready this?, that 70% to 85 % of Down syndrome babies are aborted in this country. (I know the proper grammar is to write the numbers but seeing the numbers as numbers has a much great impact and that’s what I’m going for.)
This isn’t a post about my views on abortion but I think you can tell how I feel.
Luke has brought such joy into the lives of everyone who has met him. He has taught us all so much. I can’t say that about a lot of other people. Can you?
So my daughter and I were talking and she shared how when she was pregnant, the doctor and the staff were always asking her if she wanted genetic testing as she was over thirty-five when she became pregnant. She got tired of saying “no” until finally, the new doctor she was seeing said he would put it on her chart not to ask her anymore.
She knew the risks of that pregnancy. Early testing (not genetic) showed there was a five percent chance he would be born with some sort of disability. And, yes, when he was, we were taken aback. But we fell love with our little “Lukey” immediately.
As we talked this morning, my daughter said, “You know, Mom, one of the reasons women choose to abort a child with Down syndrome is because they are afraid of what they think will be a lot of work”.
To which I replied, “Isn’t that interesting when you consider that some perfectly normal children end up being the most work? Let’s face it, how does anyone know what they are going to encounter with a child as they grow? There could be cancer, tragedy, drug and/or alcohol addiction, criminal behavior, etc. Should we have genetic testing for that as well now?
Then there’s the elderly. Before my mom died, she asked me once, “What am I still here on earth for?”
She caught me by surprise and I faltered, I admit. But then I told her, “You’re here for me, mom, because I’m not ready to say good-bye. I don’t begrudge any of what I do for you. I’m happy to because I love you. You bring joy just by your presence.”
(The sad truth is I think my mom would’ve died sooner like she wanted to, if I’d learned all I needed to learn from her and from her dying experience.)
For some reason, our culture only really values those “in the middle” of their lifespan. Anyone to the extreme, young or old, are often looked at as burdensome.
That is more than tragic. It’s an abomination.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A LIFE?
I could take a religious view but that would turn many people away. Needless to say, I believe God is the giver and taker of life and only He should determine that. But there a lot of nuances to be considered, like medical life support, medication, and our frantic efforts at times to keep someone alive when the truth is, their time has come. It’s a big subject and that’s not where I am today. This is personal.
I believe all of life is sacred and that we can learn from everyone, that we need to learn from those who are disabled in some way, whether it’s medical, emotional, mental, or just age-related.
And, yes, I’m quite aware our grandson could be less capable than he is. But is that how we judge whether a person has the right to life or not? Whether they are capable? If that’s the case, there are a lot of people walking around who shouldn’t.
As I said, this is written straight from my heart. When I think of all those little Down syndrome children who never got a chance, who never had their right to choose, my heart breaks. And probably just because raising them was going to be “too hard”.
What has this nation come to? (By the way, did you know that some states are now considering a ban on abortions if the disability is Down syndrome?)
Anyway, I just had to write this today. Forgive me for ranting but I meant every word of it. Take from this what you will.