When children become inconvenient

This goes outside the box of this blog’s regular content, but I read this and was horrified by it.

In a review of a book about parenting children with exceptional needs, the author reviews some of the author’s conversation about the extent to which parents go out of their way to avoid having children who are challenged. The second paragraph is the horrifying one.

Not that many don’t contrive to avoid these experiences: In his chapter on Down syndrome, Solomon reminds us that at least 70 percent of Americans with prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome opt for abortion. (That number would, I admit, have included me if I’d had the diagnosis.) Another group—probably larger than anyone thinks—gives their newborns up to institutions. “I wish I could show you a list of the people who have given up their babies to me,” Solomon is told by the head of an adoption agency for children with Down syndrome: “It would read like Who’s Who in America.”

And then there is the exit strategy still defended, rather improbably, by a couple of modern ethicists who, in the tall tradition of Adolf Hitler, continue to support the murder of live handicapped children. Parents who do not want their kids with a disability, argues Princeton scholar Peter Singer, should be allowed to kill them until around age 1. (You sense he could be talked into extending this grace period.) The logic behind this argument is as puerile as it is sinister: “Most women who eliminate an unwanted child will produce a wanted one,” Singer claims, “and the loss of happiness of the one who is killed (whose life would have been unsatisfactory) is outweighed by the happiness of the healthy child who follows.”

Here is a illustration of a line of thinking as far at odds with the teaching of Jesus Christ as you can get.

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6 thoughts on “When children become inconvenient

  1. It really is awful. The number is much higher than 70%: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome#Abortion_rates

    That led one commentator I read to declare that the most dangerous place for a child with down syndrome was the womb.

    A pastor friend of mine had a son with down syndrome and shared her testimony in a sermon once that I was present for. She battled God over the diagnosis and says that she came to some peace with the diagnosis and was reduced to tears when she realized in her doctor’s waiting room that “we’re all born with a hole in our hearts.”

    I doubt I ever lose that image and look forward to witnessing her son grow in the years to come.

  2. Wow. That’s quite incredible. My favorite parishioner is a guy named Adam with Downs Syndrome. We play games with homeless people together each month and he lights up the room every time he walks in. Aside from the hideous immorality of murdering babies or abandoning children, people with special needs are the most critical members of our community because through their dependency, they teach us how to live in the kingdom. Paul calls them exouthenemonoi, the “nobodies” who bring to nothing the things that are. I’m going to deal with this question partly in one of the chapters of my book on brokenness not privilege.

  3. I quite agree that there is a horror in paragraph 2, but it is simply the logical extension of the option of abortion.

  4. John,
    You’ve heard from me before. As you well know raising a child with Special needs is a 24/7 challenge. Evelyn was just finishing Seminary when Bryan was born. I was described as a rising star in the Conference at the time. Evelyn was looking forward to fulfilling a call to pastoral ministry. Things startyed changing fast. I stepped off the ladder, accepting (not without a fight!) that a tall steeple was not in my future. Evelyn began an excellent ministry but after 10 yrs, she left the local Church Pastorate as our girls had grown and left and her salary was less than mine. Bryan needed one of us available. The last eight years have been an added adventure. I’ve gone through Clinical Depression, a two year disability. and we almost joined the 96% of divorced special need parents. But since we are both Evangelicals, divorce wasn’t an option but indepth counseling and prayer were options. But we have discovered that Bryan at 18, unable to talk or use the bathroom by himself, needs both of us. We are committed, both by choice and monatary necessity to keep Bryan with us (he has Severe, Low, Functing Autism and severe Mental Disability) so I will be taking Early Retirement come June. I appreciate the article and feel extremely sorry for author Solomon whose book was reviewed. Neither my wife nor I consider ourselves heroes. We have just spent our lives serving God as best we could according to His will.

    • Pat, thank you for sharing your story with us, and thank you for your ministry. I understand exactly what you mean about not being heroes. I know some of the marriage issues you write about. Bless you. Bless Evelyn. Bless Bryan. Bless your girls.

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