Francis Phillips of the Daily Mail, blogs on issues regarding disability and abortion regularly and has a special insight due to the fact she has a child with Downs Syndrome. Her latest posting is insightful and should alert us anew to the way society sees babies in the womb as disposable especially if they have a disability such as Downs Syndrome. She writes,
The latest news on the Liverpool Care Pathway, the controversial medical protocol designed to make the dying process more humane, is that it is being applied to very sick babies. I was about to write here “terminally ill” babies – but this is the problem: the LCP has been used in some well-publicised cases where the patients – including babies – are not dying. I read a chilling report last week by an anonymous doctor which described the case of a baby born with multiple congenital problems but who was not about to die. The decision had to be made about whether to treat the infant and help him to live, with all the difficulties involved, or whether to let him die by neglect ie by withdrawing food and liquids. The parents, after consultation, decided they could not cope with a handicapped child so it was agreed the baby should be left to die. This, the doctor related, was for him an agonising process. He admitted feeling extreme reluctance to monitor the infant during the many days the baby took to die, because of the horrific effects of the severe dehydration.
I mention this case because it illustrates the stark moral questions involved. There is a huge difference, for instance, between deciding not to treat a very premature baby who, without immediate and comprehensive medical intervention of an intrusive and painful nature, would die soon after birth, and the story above: a baby with severe, long-term disabilities for whom euthanasia is the deliberately agreed “solution”.
It hardly bears thinking that this is how people view a child with long term disabilities – disposable! We have got to the point where we give women a “choice” of whether to abort their unborn child who has been found to be disabled and then continue to give this “choice” after the child is born, citing inability to cope etc. It is hard to believe.
Francis Phillips recommends a website called KIDS Keep Infants with Downs Syndrome, a prolife organisation which trys to raise awareness of the number of unborn babies aborted due to D.S. It was founded by a Leticia Velasquez and she has written a book called “A Special Mother is Born” which focuses on the parents of these special children. There is a well known myth that in order to be a parent to a child with a disability one needs to be extraordinary and full of those attributes that every parent wishes for; eternal patience, humility, perseverence , fortitude etc. However this book, says Francis Phillips demonstrates that these parents have risen to the challenge their child has presented to them and that the only attibute you must have in abundance is LOVE. The book tells moving stories of how these parents doubted their ability to look after their child with D.S. but found the strength somehow and were rewarded tenfold in what their child gave to them.
This is the experience any of us have had when meeting or knowing any person with a disability – we recieve so much and all they ask for is our love and acceptance.