Thursday, September 4, 2014

More on Suffering and Disabillity

I just read your blog piece on the abortion documentary that aired recently on PBS (unfortunately I was unable to watch the show), and I was pleased that you wrote such an articulate and balanced assessment of Suffering is a Lie. For me, the most powerful sentence in your article was, "While the parents of these children honestly believe that they are preventing suffering in their children by killing their children, they cannot be sure that they are preventing suffering in their children. What they are preventing is suffering in themselves, and they know this, if only unconsciously." 

To be able to move beyond ourselves, beyond our certain emotional pain and think of the unborn child, this is an act of love. Several examples you go on to give of faithful parents who allowed their children to live, to then lovingly hold their child in their arms, for even just eighteen minutes, meant that the child got to feel the comfort of a hug, of human validation. In this we say, "Yes this child is whole and comes from God and is love."

Having taught children with severe disabilities in the public schools in Albuquerque and Vacaville, California for nineteen years (I am now retired), I can tell you that I saw thousands of examples of the love these children generated for the teachers, assistants, bus drivers and school staffs. When you work with people with disabilities you learn an awful lot about what love is, what life means, and God's genuine love for all of us. I personally owe these children, whom their parents allowed to live, a debt I can never repay. My life was fulfilled in serving the needs of children with disabilities.

God's rainbow of love is incredible!

In Christ's name I pray you continue to persevere and to let the Holy Spirit guide your literary hand.

Love, Gregory Goldstein

Monday, September 1, 2014

After Tiller: The Lie of Suffering

A television documentary is going to be shown this evening called After Tiller. It is the story of three abortion doctors who do late-term abortions in the United States. A look at the trailer for this indicates the direction the documentary will go. The abortionists are shown fearing for their lives from crazed pro-lifers who send them death threats and even shoot at them.

George Tiller, a late-term abortionist, was murdered in cold blood by misguided "pro-lifer" (I put this in parentheses because anyone who murders someone is not REALLY prolife) Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009. The three late-term abortionists who are left are shown saying that they fear for their lives, and that they cannot retire because no one else is doing these late-term abortions which the abortionists see as compassionate alternatives for parents who are expecting a child with severe disabilities. Parents are shown making a difficult decision to end their pregnancies and abort their children to save them from suffering from the disabilities with which they have been diagnosed. One abortion doctor is shown saying that the parents have no good choice, and a parent is shown tearfully admitting that either choice is a horrible choice.

Having been involved in the pro-life movement since the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on January 22, 1973, and having written a book on problem pregnancy help for women and another on help with women who are pregnant with a child with disabilities, I can immediately see several points of irony in the trailer of After Tiller.

First, George Tiller was killed while ushering in his church during  a Sunday service. One would expect the church to be a safe environment, and he no doubt thought that it was. His murderer Scott Roeder thought that he was doing a good deed and saving many lives by taking one life, that of the abortionist. While no one can excuse this cold-blooded murder in a supposedly safe place, one has to admit that the murderer thought that he was acting out of compassion when he killed George Tiller. The abortionists in this movie say that they are acting out of compassion when they enter the supposedly safe environment of the womb and murder the child therein.

George Tiller was killed in his church at a Sunday service so we presume had had faith in God. Scott Roeder claimed to also have faith in God. Yet did not God say, "Thou shalt not kill?" Where does the Fifth Commandment, which both Tiller and Roeder claimed to follow, fit in here?

Tiller was also killed on May 31 which, in the Catholic Church, is the Feast of the Visitation of the pregnant Blessed Mother to the pregnant Elizabeth and when the unborn child John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth's womb upon recognizing the embroyonic Jesus in the womb of Mary. On this prolife feast in the Church, two men, both of whom claimed to recognize the sanctity of life -- one born life and one unborn life -- met and one man killed the other. "Thou shalt not kill." What did either of these men--Tiller and Roeder--think of this commandment?

Furthermore, the abortionists say several times that they fear for their lives, but they will keep on doing what they are doing. After Tiller portrays them as martyrs in the making, yet do these doctors ever think that the babies they abort would fear for their lives, if they only knew the decisions being made about them, and that they, as babies, are martyrs to a society that demands perfection or at least correction of its littlest members? If unborn babies can't be perfect or corrected, then best to eliminate them. It is the unborn baby diagnosed in utero with a disability who really needs to fear.

After Tiller is also sad because it apparently is not going to spend much time, if any, on parents giving birth to children with fatal or severe disabilities. In fact, doctors generally push women into terminating such children before birth. The pressure most women face if they do NOT terminate is incredible. The suffering of bringing a baby with a disability or a fatal condition to birth is compounded by unsupportive medical staff who feel it is irresponsible of the parents NOT to abort. Will that be in this documentary? Probably not.

Joseph, diagnosed in utero with the fatal condition of anencephaly. Lived four days of love with his parents, grandparents, and older sister after birth.

The happiest choice is not to choose. To let the pregnancy progress and the baby grow and to refuse to succumb to FEAR. Fear is what makes these parents abort. Fear of their response to the baby. Fear of dealing with disability. Fear of loving their baby and seeing him or her die or struggle and never be "normal" like other children. At the base of all this is fear of disability. People with disabilities have worked for centuries to erase the stigma attached to being different, and they have only partly succeeded. When a society pushes for the death of someone who is diagnosed as different before birth, then we have not come very far in tolerance or acceptance or embracing of disability, have we? And to justify late term abortions for babies diagnosed in utero with a disability, the mantra of "we do not want our baby to suffer" is so frequently said and believed. But we all have disabilities of some sort, and our disabilities cause suffering of some sort. We learn to live with it, even if we do not like it. We may try to change the disabilities that we have, and we may or may not be successful. But we go on in life.

Jonathan,diagnosed in utero with the fatal condition of Potter's Syndrome, was brought to birth by his parents and lived 99 minutes of love in his parent's arms.

While the parents of these children honestly believe that they are preventing suffering in their children by killing their children, they cannot be sure that they are preventing suffering in their children. What they are preventing is suffering in themselves, and they know this, if only unconsciously. They will not have to watch the child die. They will control the time of death by getting an abortion. They will not have to take time out of their lives to care for this child. They will not have to go through the agony of deciding whether they can parent the baby or whether they should choose an adoption. They will not have to make medical decisions for the child or make special arrangements for schooling or mobility issues. They can tell themselves that they are loving their child by taking his or her life, but if they compared their love with the love of parents who bring their children to birth and see them through life to a natural death, they might wonder which is the weightier love. This blog is not to condemn parents who thought they made a loving choice by aborting a child with a disability. It is to tell them and others that there IS a REAL LOVING choice--the choice of carrying the baby to term, whatever that outcome is. In researching material for My Child, My Gift: A Positive Response to Serious Prenatal Diagnosis, I found parents who regretted aborting children due to disability but I found NO parent who regretted carrying the baby to term and giving him or her life, however brief that life outside the womb was.

Jonny (upper left) was diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome. After he was born, his family found him so delightful that they adopted three other boys, all with Down Syndrome, pictured here with their older sister Maddie.

The lie behind After Tiller is that suffering is evil and needs to be alleviated at all costs. This attitude is a judgment on a society that does not want to suffer with those who are struggling, a society that is focused on itself rather than on the underdog. The abortionists can abort these children, tell the parents they are having a still birth, and take photos and make funeral arrangements and everyone can buy into the lie that we are all saying a fond good--bye to our children. But is this so different than the chilling scene in the book and movie The Giver where Jonas' father kills born babies who are not meeting certain milestones of development, and he is totally unaware what he is actually doing because neither he nor anyone else in his regulated society knows or understands love? Parents say they love their children too much to bring them into this world, but is that love? Doesn't love stand by someone who is hurt or suffering? Or do we kill people in a sense by abandoning them in their pain? What takes more love--killing a baby or helping the child grow past his or her deficiencies? What takes more love in a society--killing those with disabilities or embracing them, making adjustments for them, and helping them grow into their full potential?

Arianna, diagnosed in utero with the fatal condition of anencephaly. She lived four days of love with her parents and grandparents, and her birth brought estranged members of the family back into communion with one another, a true grace to both families.

The lie of suffering is that we say we love so we alleviate someone else's suffering by eliminating the someone else. Real love eliminates no one--not George Tiller and not an unborn baby. Real love prays for the wrong doer and supports the sufferer. Real love teaches rather than takes. Real love stands by one in the long term, down through the years, not just at a funeral whose date has been determined by the planned termination.

Sidney, diagnosed in utero with a fatal form of dwarfism. Brought to full term birth by her loving parents and lived for eighteen minutes in their loving embrace.

My Child, My Gift: A Positive Response to Serious Prenatal Diagnosis. You don't have to buy the book, although you can. The text is completely online. You might want to buy the book, though, and get a copy into your library, into your pastor's office, into your ob-gyn's establishment. Be Not Afraid Website also offers much help to parents who carry to term following a poor prenatal diagnosis. If you familiarize yourself with this REAL LOVING CHOICE, you might save a baby's life from the well meaning parents and doctors who think death is the most loving solution to disability. Ask someone with a disability and see if they agree with that deduction.

Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP