Thursday, April 16, 2009

In the Beginning

This will be my last post on the topic of inclusion for a while. As promised, this may be the most controversial of all my thoughts on the issue, and yet it is also the driving force for choosing this topic in the first place. Some time ago I selected a book from our home library just looking for something I could read that would help me drift off to sleep after a stressful day. I started reading it, set it aside for more urgent reading, buried it on my nightstand, and around the time I started blogging again unearthed it again. Just in time.

The book is called, "The Least of These" and is written by Curt Young (1984). The subtitle of the book is "What Everyone Should Know About Abortion". (I know...not exactly bedtime reading.) Young writes from a strong pro-life perspective. One chapter in particular was particularly disturbing to me in that it discusses what Young calls a legacy of abortion. I will simply quote Young here:

Within months after the Supreme Court's decision [Roe v. Wade], pediatricians began arguing for public acceptance of infanticide for newborns with birth defects or handicaps. Appearing in leading medical journals, their articles carried the imprimatur of the medical establishment. The published pieces were not theoretical in nature. They revealed the willingness of physicians to bring on the deaths of handicapped newborns...(p. 110, emphasis mine)
It sounds unthinkable, and yet Young cites several cases in practice. One doctor in particular approached parents and told them their child would never be more than a "vegetable" and that they should withhold care. One such child had Cerebral Palsy but was eventually able to walk under his own power and earned straight A's on his first report card.

It raises an interesting point for me. For about a year now I've been wondering when the cause of autism will be discovered, and at some level wishing there were a test that would show definitively whether or not a child is affected by it. We already screen for so many disorders at birth, why not find a way to add autism to the list? The current diagnosis system is simply inadequate, sometimes leaving parents wondering for years what is happening with their child. However, I am now wondering if screening at birth (or before) would really be so beneficial for ASD children. In fact we already screen for Down Syndrome before birth, and many feel that a woman is justified in choosing abortion if their child tests positive. I'm sure you all followed the stir surrounding Sarah Palin and her son Trig. Autism is so misunderstood that early screening might be a death sentence for thousands.

Quite simply given all I have written about God's heart for children with special needs, it seems that we need to be their voice from the very beginning, that they might have the opportunity to participate in life itself.

Part one Inclusion
Part two Inclusion
Part three Inclusion
Part four Inclusion


Dave said...

I remember when we were pregnant with my youngest son--the new ultrasound technology showed what might have been a cyst in his brain which would indicate he would not live long.

Because we had not taken the state of California blood test, there was a statistical decision made to warn us of possible complications. We subsequently took the blood test with a result that ruled out any "statistical" problems. They told us they would not have given us a warning and to simply disregard it.

Of course this was very scary and frustrating and SO less than satisfying. As you know he was very OK at birth. It seems the diagnoses are so focused on statistical probabilities that there is no way to know other than trust God. It is interesting that improved ultrasound technologies are causing the medical field to re-calibrate what is normal.

Ronnica said...

I found you on 31DBBB.

You bring up an interesting point...but a very valid one. I have known of people refusing to have the early testing for Down's because they didn't want to be pressured to give up their child if the test results were positive. In most cases, these types of prenatal testing aren't entirely accurate. I can't help but wonder how many children who are killed becaue the parents were told the child had a birth defect were in fact perfectly capable to survive birth and childhood, and even enter adulthood. While losing a child after birth or finding out that the baby is not perfectly healhty is obviously traumatic and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, I don't see how the problem is helped by killing the child prematurely.


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