Many people in our culture mistakenly believe that when a child is diagnosed before birth with a potentially severe health condition, the compassionate choice is for the parents is to end their child’s life in an abortion. This decision to end a child’s life is sometimes even — as seen in a recent New York Times op-ed — wrongly described as the highest form of love on the part of the parents, taking the child’s “pain” as their own.
But does killing a preborn child take away any potential suffering or pain? The obvious answer, when we are not distracted by the obfuscation of abortion, is that it only ends the child’s life without the child ever feeling the embrace of his or her parents’ arms. Yes, someone who is dead can no longer feel pain and suffering in this life, but abortion is a deliberate act, stopping the beating heart of a living human being.
What is the alternative to abortion?
Understandably many parents are afraid when they are advised to abort their child or are told that their child’s health condition is “incompatible with life.” The greatest source of encouragement for parents facing a difficult diagnosis can be the inspiring stories of families who chose to cherish every moment with their child instead of cutting that life short through the violence of abortion.
“43 beautiful and unforgettable minutes”
Rachel Alice Aube was diagnosed before birth with anencephaly. Like so many cases like this, doctors assumed that Rachel’s parents would end her life instead of carrying her to term. Rachel’s mother, Stacey, shared the family’s journey to welcoming Rachel into the world and spending 43 precious minutes with her before she passed away.
Stacey’s video of pictures capturing her daughter’s brief life has more than one million views, showing how profoundly touching the family’s story is.
Although the family only shared 43 minutes with Rachel after her birth, Stacey tried to treasure every moment of pregnancy with her daughter. She writes, “I carried her proudly through my heartache and did everything I could to make the most of her brief time with us here. I did all the things I wanted to do with her, told her the things I would want her to know, sang to her, rocked her and loved her with complete abandon. And I believe wholeheartedly that she felt my love. She was a strong girl with a precious personality and apparently loved to dance, just like her Mama.”
“There is always hope and support”
No matter the diagnosis in utero or shortly after birth, doctors cannot predict with certainty the life of a child with significant medical challenges. Children like Kathleen Rose have defied expectations and lived long past the time predicted and achieved milestones and life experiences no one imagined possible.
Kathleen Rose was not diagnosed with Trisomy 13 until after birth, but children like her are routinely targeted for death through abortion.
Her mother, Tracy, writes that Kathleen Rose “has a beautiful distinct personality and is known most for her mischievous laughter and enormous hugs.” Her life is not defined by her disabilities but by who she is.
Many parents are not given information about perinatal hospice or local support groups when facing a difficult diagnosis. This pushes them toward opting for abortion and deprives families and communities of loving this unique child. Learning about stories of hope and options available is vital to supporting families. Tracy is confident that through their daughter and all children like her, “We become better parents, more loving people and richer communities by having these pure souls in our midst.”
“We wouldn’t change him for anything”
Initially, when Anu and Noel Byrne received news that their third baby had a severe congenital heart defect, they said their “world fell apart.” They were told that their preborn son Simeon might live for around three days after birth. Upon hearing the news, his mother says, “I was devastated; I was left with a broken heart.” The year that followed changed everything.
After undergoing multiple heart surgeries, Simeon celebrated his first birthday. Beyond his family, who adore him, his entire community has been part of life, even before he was born. His mother says, “Simeon has touched so many people before he was born. The amount of people who have shown an interest in him and asking for him, praying for him all around the world. It was incredible.”
Simeon’s medical challenges are far from over. He will undergo another heart surgery around age three. His parents say their ordeal has all been worth it. Simeon’s mother said, “Even with all his disabilities, he’s never been a burden to us. He’s only brought joy and blessings into our lives. We wouldn’t change him for anything.”
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