Friday, January 16, 2009

The Value of Children

Reading my friend The Tim Man's blog today, I found his post on this story from England.

The story is by a woman, Carol Sarler, whose friend's child has autism.  It recounts the hardships, even the horrors, of life with an autistic child.  I have no doubt that such a life is difficult.  But the author uses the hardships and difficulties of autism to argue that "everyone concerned would have been better off if [the autistic child's life] had been a life unlived . . . unequivocally."  And, to take it one step further, that a test should be developed to test unborn children for autism and abort them if the test was positive.

I'm saddened, even sickened, by Sarler's point of view.  Life, any life, is a gift from God.  It is worth living.

By focusing on the parents, rather than the child, Sarler shows how selfish people can be.  Because the child causes hardship to the parents - he should be dead - for the parents' sake.  What about the child?  I don't believe that his life - or any other - is better being snuffed out.

And, I don't believe that autistic children cause nothing but hardship for their parents.  Sarler ignores the possibility that such a child could bring joy into the life of another human being, directly or indirectly.  I hope that her friends read her article and tell her about those joys.  And tell her not to write about things that she doesn't and can't understand.

Apparently it is not possible to test unborn children for autism.  I hope that it never is.  But it is already possible to test unborn children for Downs Syndrome.  When my wife was pregnant with our first child, she had a screening test performed, which her OB/GYN said was standard, that showed a high risk for Downs.  At that point it was suggested that we have an amniocentesis performed to find out conclusively.  Why?  So that we could have been better prepared if the baby did have special needs, or . . . aborted the child.

We decided against the amnio.  The baby was our baby - our special gift - given to us by God - whether he was healthy or not.  If he had been born with Downs Syndrome, our son's life would be no less valuable.  And we would not have loved him less.

Unfortunately, not every parent would have felt the same way.  And, to this day, millions of them are choosing to legally kill their children for the crime of having a disease or simply being inconvenient.

It is a sad world. 

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