Today, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law a provision making it illegal to abort a child due to fetal anomalies such as Down’s Syndrome (as well as race or sex.) Indiana is only the 2nd state to do so, North Dakota being the other one. I am so excited to see this! And yet I am saddened. I looked at the AP Twitter page, and saw a long stream of complaints about these “helpless children” and the ones who will “freaking die” and have “excruciating lives.”
Hello, people! It’s 2016. People with disabilities are your neighbors, your friends, your teachers, your authors. Disabilities are as varied as the people who live with them. Some are more severe. Some, like mine, are progressive. Many people do need assistance daily, but why does that make them less worthy of birth?
The all-too-common narrative has been that evidence of a fetal anomaly is an acceptable reason for abortion. It is pushed on many women after prenatal testing and, some argue, is the reason behind many of those tests in the first place. As a person with a disability I find it repugnant and insulting beyond words to suggest that the “compassionate” answer is to tear a child apart with forceps and the intense force of suctioning. I refuse to cater to the “better before she is born” nonsense that denies the beauty of every life in spite of whatever suffering might happen. Yes, suffering will happen. But you don’t have to have a disability to experience suffering. My own life has been filled with emotional struggles, physical pain and bullying. My life has also been filled with love, laughter, joy, fulfillment, and a peace that passes all understanding. I am not a mistake. My Dejerine-Sottas is not a mistake.
The children this new law is designed to save are not mistakes, either. We must stop the rhetoric that children must be healthy in order to be happy. We must stop the selfishness that promotes killing off the needy so we as a society don’t have to be “burdened” with caring for them. We must stop the foolishness that denies the redemptive meaning of suffering, and the graces from serving those who suffer daily.
Of course, there are also the science deniers tweeting away that these fetuses “aren’t children.” Well, they aren’t kumquats or bunny rabbits. Human egg + Human sperm = Human Being. A fetus is just a young human being, created in the image of God. Time to protect them all. Black or white. Rich or poor. Disabled or healthy. Planned or unplanned.
So, thank you Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana legislators who recognize the dignity of all these children.