Wednesday, October 19, 2011

National Down Syndrome Awareness Month: 5,400

5,400.

5,400 out of 6,000.

5,400 Down syndrome pre-birth diagnoses out of 6,000 in 2010 resulted in abortion.  And that's just in the United States.  Can there possibly be statistics gathered worldwide?

When I was a good Catholic boy in a Jesuit high school, a hippie friend of mine talked me into picketing a Taco Bell-turned-abortion clinic almost directly across the street from us.

Yeah, I’m Catholic, I told myself.  So I’m pro-life.  So I guess I can do that.  And it was fun.  The handful of us made the evening news that day and I saw myself on TV.

But today, I know why I’m pro-life.  And it’s not only because of biblical and philosophical reasons.  I think of the 5,400.  And I think of my Harper and my Hailee.



You know the saying, It’s better to love and risk being hurt than never to love at all?  Well, I thought life was just fine before Harper and Hailee crawled into my life and into my heart.  I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking the same thing—life couldn’t get better, before you had your baby.  But when he or she was born, you thought, Boy, was I being presumptuous!  It’s so much richer now!



All it takes is one glance at either Harper or Hailee and my heart jump starts like a car battery.  I get the giggles just looking at them, holding them, and kissing them.  My greatest fear has arrived: I sound just like my father’s dad whenever he saw us.  He just started laughing!  When I was young, I thought that old man was nice but strange.  Now I’ve become him.  My laugh even sounds like his!  But I digress.


I am so eternally grateful that my two daughters with Down syndrome were not aborted in the womb because they were seen as “mistakes.”


But…

What about the others who were and are not as fortunate?

The first category of humanity that Hitler exterminated were those with disabilities, 275,000 in all.  Hitler saw this stage as the model which set the example for the planned mass executions to come.  And yes, many were adults, children, and pre-born children who had Down syndrome.

If Americans shudder at this fact, how is this different from doctors offering prenatal tests to offer parents an “alternative” to giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome?

What are we doing? 

I’ll ask that again:  WHAT ARE WE DOING?!

I do not want to hear anyone say that it’s better to abort them because they won’t have a good quality of life.

Quality of life?

My two daughters didn’t have a good quality of life when they ate, slept, rocked, and soiled themselves in a two-foot by three-foot crib for the first years of their lives because they were seen as undeserving.  But when I look at them now, they are happy and loving life and doling out joy to countless others they encounter on a daily basis!

5,400.

Where are you, dear ones?  We cannot hear your voices.

And it is for that very reason that WE will be your voice…in this National Down Syndrome Awareness month.

So let me change that saying I quoted earlier in your honor…

IT IS BETTER TO LIVE AND RISK BEING HURT THAN NEVER TO LIVE AT ALL!

Do not miss my wife's post here that features a powerful half-hour documentary on this subject by Ray Comfort.

Monday, October 17, 2011

WHAT HAVE WE BECOME?: Discarding Imperfect Children

In honoring National Down Syndrome Awareness month, I'd like to share with you an article written by a good friend of mine.  Derrick Bignell wrote this report for a college English course, of all things!  Wonder if it'll blow away his class and prof.

Derrick was kind enough to consider including one of our precious daughters with Down syndrome, Harper, as a tribute to the value of preserving such a life.  But in reading the report in its entirety, I think you'll agree that it's an important nudging at the decency of the human soul to end the horrific selective breeding we are practicing known as eugenics.

For the sake of brevity, I am publishing only an excerpt (albeit most of the article).  And I am reserving the bibliography for those who write to me to request it.

~ ~ ~

REPORT TITLE:  People Throw Away the Darnedest Things

Every day, people throw away unwanted babies. A great many of those babies were diagnosed with birth defects.  We live in a society that wants perfect kids, free of illness and imperfection. People need to undergo serious introspection prior to the act of procreation, explore its potential outcomes and their own ethical values. Over the last ten years 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome have been aborted (Bauer). The modern practice of eugenics directly contributes to the in utero death of millions of our babies.

This beautiful smiling angel named Harper is one of the few fortunate children to survive this modern holocaust. Our ethically sterilized medical community actively practices eugenics by influencing individuals to discard imperfect babies, resulting in a significant decline of persons with Down syndrome and other birth defects. 

Eugenics is a disturbing idea that has been in practice since the ancient Greeks.  The term’s root is from the Greek word eugenes, meaning “good birth.” The act of leaving a less than perfect baby to die in the elements is a troubling thought. The Nazis of the 1940s underwent a massive eugenics campaign resulting in the horrifying death of over six million Jews, and today Western medicine practices it on our children. 

The eugenics theory is “the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits” (Dictionary.com). In the modern world, for decades, the belief in the theory was thought to be wrong, and today it still has negative connotations. But in fact, many of our obstetrics and gynecology doctors (Ob/Gyns) push the termination of defective fetuses (simple Latin for “little child”) violating their Hippocratic Oath.

According to New York Times columnist Amy Harmon, a parent of a Down syndrome child, writes, “Dr. Brian Skotko, a medical resident who has studied how mothers were told of prenatal diagnoses, found a high level of dissatisfaction. He said that most doctors have little or no training on how to relay a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome” (Harmon).

Is this a communications problem? Do our doctors need additional training in bedside manner?  Dr. Bruchalski (Ob/Gyn) states, “There is a move to prevent the birth of a baby with a disease or disability” (Fliteau). This is a fascinating, albeit, worrisome trend where one group of doctors plays the role of social scientist as well as moral, ethical, and genetic engineer.  Patricia Bauer, a Washington Post author and mother to a Down syndrome daughter writes, “The way the risk of Down syndrome is described makes a big difference in how it is perceived” (Bauer).  She also writes that her daughter’s pediatrician “tells me that years ago he used to have a steady stream of patients with Down syndrome. Not anymore. Where did they go, I wonder” (Bauer). Over time the population of people born with birth defects, fixed or not, will diminish due to the desire for perfect kids. Bauer pointedly states:

            And here's one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but     
            nonetheless significant part of what's driving the abortion discussion in this country.
            I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the  
            rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure
            that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is
            not just about a woman's right to choose whether to have a baby; it's also about a
            woman's right to choose which baby she wants to have (Bauer).

Do we have a right to extinguish life based on how we define it? This is not the breeding of the perfect tracking dog or the fluffiest cat. These are the children of humanity, and they are a reflection of that humanity.  Still, many parents justify their intentions to eliminate ‘flawed” babies, saying it would be immoral and inhumane to allow them into this world where they will suffer through its poor short life. After all, it's just a child. But for many, the motivation is more sinister.

Columnist Harmon mentions, “...many parents see expanded testing as a step toward a society where children like theirs would be unwelcome. Newsweek columnist George F. Will labeled it a ‘search and destroy mission’ for a category of citizens that includes his adult son (with Down syndrome), Jon Will” (Harmon).

Is there a solution to this infanticide?  Will there be an end? After all, it has been happening for thousands of years.  Animals do it.  Why not us?

One activist states, “... what starts out as an American holocaust only becomes worse” (Chick). Eugenics today is practiced every day when the world’s precious imperfect babies are discarded to make room for more, for a humanity that thinks it would be better off without its humanity. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jesus In Disguise



Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior's fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don't stand a chance against you;
you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.

~Psalm 127:3-5 (The Message)

Most societies in the world see things differently from God.  Not all children are precious.  Many cultures devalue female children.  Or children who have deformities.  Or little ones with physical ailments.  Or even ones that aren’t as good looking as others in their culture.  Or in our own society, many place no value on unborn children.

Now I want you to imagine a little orphan girl who is HIV positive and who was born with a skin disease that made her face look unbecoming.  Would you say that this little girl is the least of the least?  And yet this is the very child that the Lord handpicks and calls special. 

“The least of these…”

When I was in China picking up one of our daughters, I was approached by a beggar outside The Forbidden City in Beijing.  His toothless mouth shivered open to say something but the words would not come out.  His breath was as bad as one can imagine.  But the most frightening feature of this old man was his eyes.  He had none!  And he didn’t wear sunglasses to hide what was not there.  There were deep holes in his head.  I wouldn’t even call them sockets.  They were caverns.

At first glance, I felt a shudder of horror go through my veins as I saw him approach me.  Sure, I felt ashamed for feeling that way, but my eyes had never seen anything like that and I was in shock, amazed that someone in that condition was walking around.

But then a whole new sensation came over me.  The Lord told me in my spirit how much He loves that man.  I have seen lepers in Uganda.  A limbless man sliding on a board in South Africa.  A young man with no lower jaw in Europe.  Most humans feel compelled to turn away and hide their children’s eyes from them.  But our God identifies so much with and has such a passion for these kinds of people that He tells us, “When you do it to the least of these, you do it to ME!”

In other words, I can look at these castaways of the normal world and say, “Look there.  There goes Jesus!...There He goes again.”  And why should that surprise us, that Jesus would “stoop down to that level?”  Wasn’t the Savior of the world born in a cattle feeding trough?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

We are the hands and feet of a compassionate God who yearns to touch these people.  We are the caretakers of the least desirable orphans of the world.  We are the warriors who fight for justice of the most downtrodden. 

Just as Jesus sought out the least fortunate, so are we to do likewise.  We are to shatter the caste system of a worldly society and cradle the untouchables, for with those we find Him.

Today the world honored the life of an extremely successful business man, Steven Jobs, who propelled Apple Computers to the top of the industry, and who also was a Buddhist.

Today the Creator of the Universe honors a dying three-year-old girl languishing in an orphanage somewhere across the globe.  She doesn’t even have a name, except for the name of her institution and maybe a nickname from a nondescript maid. 

No one except a handful of people know that this child exists.  Apart from that handful, the Lord God Himself knows and loves that child.  Sure, He will soon have that little one in heaven with Him, but His heart is really to have someone with hands and feet find out where she is, pursue her, and give her a home—a place where rudimentary medical attention can save her life; a place where four arms wrap around her and tell her that she’s theirs until Jesus comes; a place where she will be introduced to something healing for the first time in her life—love.

I have hands and feet. 

You have hands and feet.

Now is the time to use them.

“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”

~Mother Teresa




Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baby Zac Is With Jesus

In the post here I asked you to pray for the unborn baby, Zac, of dear friends of ours in South Africa.

The sweet boy went to be with our Lord just 22 hours after birth.  Would you please pray for the mom and dad and entire family at this time.  We cannot put into words how dear this couple is to us.  And the Word says to mourn with those who mourn.  Our hearts are heavy, but in it all, a biblical anthem rings out in our spirits:

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said:
      “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
      And naked shall I return there.
      The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
      Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.  

 ~Job 1:20-22
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