In 1729 Jonathan Swift sarcastically presented a “modest proposal” in which he suggested that to combat the problem of poverty and overpopulation that the children of the poor could be sold for meat to the wealthiest of Englishmen, thus helping to provide the poor with a lucrative source of income and reduce the burden of the lower class. Perhaps his was the more sane suggestion.
Last week conversations erupted in regard to tiny little Amelia Rivera and her treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Amelia is nearly three-years-old and has a lower than average IQ and some developmental delay. She also has a rare condition called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (WHS) that will soon require a kidney transplant. The entire Rivera family is eager to find a donor within their family in hopes of helping their little gift have a long and happy life. Yet tears still streamed from shocked faces as her parents talked with her doctor.
The sobs and jaw on the floor is in response to what the doctor just said. Apparently little Mia is not eligible for a transplant because she is too stupid. The doctor said it almost as delicately, suggesting that mental retardation excludes her from the transplant surgery, even if a donor is found within the family. The social worker seated next to the nephrologist suggested that with a life-long regiment of taking anti-rejection drugs, they cannot trust Mia to be able to care for herself as the reason to justify condemning her to death. The hospital has the resources to save Mia’s life, but they would rather see her die. Read more about this conversation.
Thinking the Unthinkable
In his book Hunger for God [download here for free], John Piper takes a break from his discourse on the Christian practice of fasting to discuss abortion. Certainly there are many strong opinions on the subject not only liberal and conservative but others who are attempting to approach the controversy in a more pragmatic way. Yet at the core of the debate is the value that our society puts on the life of a child. Piper rightly concludes that there will never be an end to abortion when our society continues to even consider it as an option.
This child with amazing support and love of a family may be the victim of abortion. Though she has lived more than two years outside the womb, medical science has concluded that she has the right neither to breathe the air nor to have a chance to thrive. Amelia is not the only one.
Evelyn Kraemer and Sareta-Beth McRann each have a son who was born with thanatophoric dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism whose name means “death-bearing” in Greek. Evelyn recalls being encouraged to choose to kill her child, Samuel, in the womb because he may not live very long. Sareta, after giving birth to baby Christian had to fight the doubt and utter denial of doctors that he was worth medical care, even as he showed signs of improvement.
Darling Samuel has now passed his fifth birthday and is a joy to his mother as he continues to reach new milestones. Christian just turned nine-months and is living at home much to the amazement of his entire medical team. Together these boys are two of fewer than ten in the world who live with this disorder.
It is not a day at the spa when it comes to taking care of a child with special needs. While my own son, Tinsley, had had his medical complications, I can only imagine the difficulty that some parents have in managing the complicated health problems of their children. Yet, there is also unspeakable joy and an utterly new perspective that these children bring with them. They challenge us to view ourselves and the core of our being in ways that you could only understand if you could stand with them. Songwriter Michael Card put it like this:
Mia is much more than brain damaged and mentally retarded if those are even appropriate ways to speak about her condition. She has unique gifts and abilities to give and receive love, to take the most difficult part of herself and wear it for the world to see. Not many of us are lucky enough to have the opportunity to live in full presence of our deformities, embrace them, and inhale the deep richness of a life truly lived.
Beyond the Womb
Abortion is not only about the womb. It is about the foundational belief in the sanctity of human life. Our position on abortion is our position on who is allowed to live and who should die. It is our stand against the evolutionary progress of the human race and instead rally the value of the one who God created in His image, even when that image is altered by our slavery to a fallen world. Not that Amelia, Samuel, and Christian deserve those difficulties, but these difficulties along with every other disease are signs of the presence of sin in God’s kingdom that is here, but also yet to come.
Abortion is forsaking our trust in a sovereign God who promises that He will make all things new. It means that we cannot accept what He ordains “for the good of those who love Him.” Abortion means that ordinary humankind, not Christ, is responsible for itself and must purge the species of unwanted chromosomes. Abortion is the utter denial of the return of a conquering Christ who will rid our world of every stain of sin.