Monday, March 5, 2012

Why Should the Baby Live?

Like all of us, my worldview was shaped by what I learned and saw in childhood. And what I saw was this:

Babies. Lots and lots of babies. Through my parents' circle of friends, church, foster kids, and the ever-expanding Riddles, I was around babies a lot. There are so many photographs of my youngest brother Dustin holding every little boy and girl within a 100-mile radius of Creswell that my mom still doesn't know who he's holding years later. "I should have labeled this," she says now, "but I just never realized how many babies Dustin held over the years!"

Honestly, I never realized my family was a little different until I was a teenager. Casual high school converstions taught me that not everyone had experienced a baby boy sleeping in their bedroom who woke up 6 times a night from the meth still frying his system, or had cried themselves to sleep for 2 weeks straight after that same little boy got adopted out. My friends' memories of the fair consisted of 4-H animals and carnival rides; mine included those, but also watching my mom work a booth to educate fairgoers about preborn babies. Instead of "Baby Think It Over," my oldest brother Shane got to inform a teacher exactly what having a newborn in the home was like -- he didn't need that beat-up bag of sugar left behind in his locker to teach him exactly what having a child entailed.

Then, when I was 9, some very good family friends welcomed a boy with Down Syndrome into the family. I began babysitting for them, quite a bit as I got older. I then volunteered with a special-needs playgroup in college, next working for 3 years as a special-needs teacher in Idaho.

All this to say that I get it. Babies are hard work, especially ones with special needs. The work isn't glamorous or Oprah-appropriate. It's work.

These researchers in Australia, however, think that work is unneccessary. They wrote an article in an ethics journal (how ironic) entitled, "After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?" Read it here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/killing-newborns-ethicallly-permissible-says-australian-philosopher-francesca-minerva/story-e6freuy9-1226287046257.

Yep, that's right. Tired of that newborn baby wailing in your face? Kill him. Change your mind once you see in the delivery room that your daughter has a cleft palate? Murder her. After all, it's about OUR wants and OUR convenience. Why should we be made to suffer?

I could go on and on and ON about the slippery slope these guys are on (so what's next? Autism? ADD? Your mouthy teenager? WHY NOT?), but that's another post.

I recently was challenged by someone with the age-old theory that prolifers don't give a rip about babies once they are born or the mothers who birth them. While obviously this can sometimes be true (people make mistakes, no matter how well-intentioned), here's how I replied:

As someone with parents who have sacrificed an UNBELIEVABLE amount to take care of kids who aren't their own, I have spent my entire life watching the real pro-life message being lived right in front of my eyes. I'm not glorifying myself or any one person, but in my circle of friends are foster parents, CASA (court-appointed special advocates) volunteers & board members, adoptive parents, pregnancy center counselors, special-needs teachers & special-needs adoptive parents, social workers, food pantry workers, soup kitchen organizers, community garden volunteers, hospice volunteers, rape hotline workers....the list goes on and on and ON. I've heard this argument many times before, and honestly, it gets under my skin. So so so SO many pro-lifers are against capital punishment (including me, did you know that?), against war, against all those things listed. But so often pro-choice people lump us all into one camp. We're not all the same, you know. I pray daily that the horror of abortion would end, but guess what, I care about those women (and the fathers!) just as much as the babies, and I put my time, energy, money and talents where my mouth is. I sincerely try to LIVE that message with my actions, not just my words. I know you're intelligent, kind -- you don't beat people over your head with your beliefs, and I appreciate that -- but I feel like I gave up such a huge part of my childhood so my parents could live out their pro-life beliefs, and I can't NOT say something.

(Note: this exchange was with someone whom I love, admire and respect for their intelligence, and am in no way bashing them).

Over the past year, I've noticed that this has become the latest theme of my life stage. Through my volunteering with organizations like Compassion International and Reece's Rainbow, it's really been hammered home how important and worthwhile every child is. It's been a great reminder for me -- sometimes I subconsciously think I should have been allowed to plan my parent's life, for instance, and trust me, in my humanness, I would have done things differently -- that I am not the final arbiter of life.

I don't know it all. I can't look at a troubled teen and think, dude, that kid is never going to amount to anything. I don't know the future. I can't look at a pregnant teen and think, there's a wasted life. Because I DON'T KNOW. My own family consists of siblings that these researchers in Australia surely would have condemned to die.

Born in less-than-ideal circumstances, my sisters both got a raw start to life. They've been the cause of a lot of tears, stress and sweat. But guess what? 

THEY HAVE BEEN WORTH IT! And it is NOT my job to judge whether they, and the millions of others in similar situations, inconvenience me too much to live.

Here's really what this whole post boils down to: Life is not about our comfort. We are not here to consume, but to serve. Think some members of society are inconvenient? Get over it and get to work.

To that end, I'd like to introduce you to Colt.


Colt is 4 -- the same age as Jack -- and has Down Syndrome. He is living in a Russian baby house, but will soon be transferred to an adult mental institution, where he will spend the rest of his life with little to no stimulation and even less personal attention and affection...unless he gets adopted.

I am officially this beautiful boy's prayer warrior through Reece's Rainbow. I am committed to praying this little boy home to a forever family.

If those radical researchers had their way, Colt would be dead. What do you think?

I will spend my life living out the message that all human life is valuable -- special needs, born to single mothers, living in an orphanage, living with an incurable disease, possessing completely opposite opinions of me, even those who hurt me or cause me pain.

Those Australian researchers asked a question, and I'm here to answer. I'll tell you why those babies should live. Because babies (or the old, diseased, ill, infirmed, inconvenient, you name it) are no different than you and me. They have potential, just as I'm trusting those researchers still have (though it has yet to show itself), to grow and contribute to the human race. They shape us, teach us, hammer us into selfless creatures who figure out we're here to love, not judge...just by being themselves, by using those very imperfections the researchers claim deserve death!


Why should the baby live? You answered your own question, professors. Because they are.