It is very tough to speak in a pro-life manner today, knowing that you will likely be mocked, ostracized, or hated for openly holding a life-affirming ethic. Doing so can result in a negative response from others. Some things that I have heard from others include the fact that I am acting intolerant, or that I am seemingly oppressive of people’s choices and rights.
However, I understand many pro-life issues from a very personal perspective. The fact that I have a unique perspective on these issues results in me asking this question that is often never asked during life/abortion discussions: how can you expect me to be anything but pro-life?
For those who may not know me, I was born at 29 weeks gestation, the first of two twins born that day. I therefore deal with Cerebral Palsy as a result. My Cerebral Palsy impacts my ability to do many everyday things: I am unable to walk, write, or drive, and it takes me longer to do just about everything.
When it comes to success in life, I measure it based on how much I positively impact the lives of people around me.
Despite these facts and the multiple challenges that come as a result of my Cerebral Palsy, I absolutely love my life! I am extremely thankful for the many great opportunities that I have been given, not only in regards to being alive, but also regarding the fact that I have been given the opportunity to reach my God-given potential. When it comes to success in life, I measure it based on how much I positively impact the lives of people around me.
When I look at my life and the unique situation that I find myself in, it seems to me that many aspects of the pro-life movement relate directly to my personal experience. For this reason, I feel that I may be able to provide a new perspective to people – one that shifts their minds from asking me the question: how can you possibly support the pro-life movement, to a mindset which asks: how could you be anything but pro-life?
When people think of the pro-life movement, the first thing that often comes to mind is the topic of abortion. I am sure all my friends and family members who are reading this article do not believe that any aspects of my situation relate to abortion. After all, I grew up in a loving home with two parents who have never shown signs of marital difficulty during their nearly 30 years of marriage. There has also never been a situation within my family where abortion would have been considered.
Although my life experiences don’t relate to abortion in the same way that many people do, I still feel a deep and direct connection to the issue of abortion for three reasons: 1) the nature of my birth; 2) my disability; and 3) the fact that I am a twin.
The Nature of My Birth[su_pullquote align=”right”]It was based on my early, dramatic, and unexpected arrival that I was magically granted personhood rights.[/su_pullquote]The first reason why I feel particularly connected to the abortion issue is because I was born premature. This is important because it meant that I suddenly became a person. It was based on my early, dramatic, and unexpected arrival that I was magically granted personhood rights before most others are. I will admit that I was born into a loving family, filled with people who wanted the best for me, but the fact of the matter is: the lives of children are given no protection before birth and can be terminated at any point before the child is completely born (I say completely because the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion is very common when ending the lives of children who are at a later stage of development than I was when I was born).
I don’t believe that a person should magically gain personhood status just because their location changes, the mother of the child will still need to care for them after they are born. In fact, it may even be harder to do so. Luckily, we have laws in this country that prohibit parents from failing to provide the necessities of life to their kids. Why should it be any different for prenatal children?
The second reason why the abortion issue directly impacts me is because I am disabled. Although it is not talked about in the media too much, technological advancements within the field of prenatal development have made it possible to test prenatal children for disabilities and irregularities. I believe that this technology can be used for good. A great example of this was the story of a recent surgery that was done on a prenatal child with Spina Bifida. The surgery was able to correct the child’s disability and did not negatively impact their life in any way.
Despite the fact that I do not have Down Syndrome, it should be mentioned that people with Cerebral Palsy are not out of the woods either.
However, that same technology is being used to diagnose babies with disabilities and then recommend that they be aborted because of it. We have seen this happen in countries like Iceland and Denmark — who celebrate the fact that they have virtually eradicated the Down syndrome population from their society.
Despite the fact that I do not have Down Syndrome, it should be mentioned that people with Cerebral Palsy are not out of the woods either. I recently read a story about an Iowa family who gave birth to a child with Cerebral Palsy. This family is now suing their doctor because he failed to tell them that a prenatal ultrasound of their child revealed that it was extremely likely that he had Cerebral Palsy. As a result, the family is suing the doctor for the wrongful birth of the child because they would have aborted him if they knew he had a disability.
The Fact That I Am a Twin[su_pullquote align=”right”]If I was a prenatal child in today’s culture, there could be many things which would prevent my life from even happening.[/su_pullquote]The third and final reason that connects me to abortion is the fact that I am a twin. In today’s world, some people in the medical field advocate for fetal-reduction abortions in order to lessen the risks of premature birth. As someone who was and still is a premature twin, this is very troubling to me. I could not imagine life without my twin brother and I do not believe that the risk of premature birth should result in parents being encouraged to end the life of one of their children to give their other child a better life. I am so thankful that my parents weren’t encouraged to abort one of us to give the other person a potentially better life.
I understand that if I was a prenatal child in today’s culture, there could be many things which would prevent my life from even happening. I feel so blessed to have the loving family that I do and to have been born during a time when abortion based on disability, or multiple pregnancy was less advocated than it is today.
The other big topic within the pro-life movement that has a profound connection to my life is the subject of euthanasia or medically assisted suicide. It is a “treatment” that is only available to disabled and dying Canadian adults under our current law.
Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Pediatric Society indicates that a growing number of Canadian pediatricians believe that teens, minors and newborns should be eligible for medically assisted death.
Based on my life experiences, I fully understand the challenges of being disabled. I am also very aware that extra time and resources are required to raise a child with a disability. Disabilities never just affect one person, they affect entire families.
Therefore, the promotion of euthanasia within a culture that sees the act of caring for the disabled as a burden, instead of an obligation of the human race, will quickly become a society where everyone’s life is vulnerable at the moment something bad happens to them.
Continuing down our current cultural path will put an end to diversity and will not allow us to learn from the struggles of others.
The disabled and sick will not be able to protect themselves. Ability will be the standard currency that determines the value of every human life, instead of the inherent and intrinsic nature that is present within every human life. It is this transcendent quality which gives our lives true value and meaning.
Continuing down our current cultural path will put an end to diversity and will not allow us to learn from the struggles of others. It will also not allow us to overcome our struggles or to experience and learn from the lessons that disabled and vulnerable people teach us. Additionally. It will prevent and prohibit our society from finding and developing actual cures for the diseases we face. This will ultimately hold our society back from reaching its potential.
Understanding the true impact that the promotion of abortion and euthanasia has on the disabled community leads me to the conclusion that I cannot support any position that is not pro-life in its nature.
I fully understand that if our society keeps going down a path that does not respect the inherent and sacred value of every human life, there will not be any new opportunities for people like me to
: live our lives to the fullest, inspire others, be the reason cures to afflictions are found, and ultimately have the chance to impact the people who are around us.
Therefore, when someone asks me how I could possibly support the pro-life movement? I respond to them by asking: how could you expect me to be anything but pro-life?
Furthermore, when someone says that I need to be respectful of other people’s choices, they are essentially saying that I must accept that it is OK for people to end the lives of others like me, or to discriminate against the vulnerable. This is something that I cannot support and do not respect because I realize that that could have been me!
I could have been the person who didn’t get the chance to reach my full potential!
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