Eugenics — a philosophy based on the desire to “better” society by selectively breeding and weeding out those deemed to be less worthy of life — is still alive and well in the world. This can be seen in the continued effort to ensure that abortion is legal up to birth for health conditions or abnormalities that are detected in preborn children at or after 20 weeks gestation. Many children are diagnosed with conditions that leave them missing parts of their brains. But that doesn’t mean they should be killed — nor does it mean they are any less human or worthy of a chance at life.
Noah’s parents, Shelly and Rob Wall, learned that Noah had spina bifida and hydrocephalus when Shelly was 20 weeks pregnant. Noah’s skull was full of fluid and doctors didn’t think he would survive outside the womb. Doctors advised abortion five times. But his parents refused. At his first scan after birth, doctors discovered that Noah only had about two percent of his brain — yet he was able to eat, breathe, and drink because his brain stem was intact.
When Noah was three years old, a second brain scan revealed that his brain had grown to about 80 percent, likely because the shunt that had been placed to drain fluid was working, and the lack of fluid opened up space for his brain.
Now seven years old, Noah continues to defy the odds. He talks, he laughs, he smiles, and he goes to school. He is showing the world that he lives a full and happy life and he is proving that no matter what challenges might be ahead for children in the womb diagnosed with such a condition, life is still a beautiful gift.
Colton was diagnosed prenatally with hydrocephalus and doctors tried to convince his parents Brad and Jen Mckinstry to abort. They said they were quite sure that Colton wouldn’t survive after birth, and that if he did survive, he would be a “vegetable.” Seven times, doctors told them to abort, but his parents knew that God didn’t create their son just to be aborted. His life had a purpose.
It wasn’t long after his birth that Colton began to surprise the doctors. He underwent numerous surgeries and takes part in occupational and physical therapy, but he has always been a happy and active boy. Now eight years old, Colton can still light up a room with a smile that doctors said he would never show.
Dominic Pio Gundrum
Halfway through her pregnancy, Mary Gundrum learned that her baby boy Dominic Pio had encephalocele, a rare birth defect in which the skull doesn’t properly close and the baby’s brain grows through the opening. Knowing that doctors couldn’t say that her baby would survive, Gundrum and her husband Mark didn’t consider abortion for even a moment.
Finding a doctor who could help their son was life-changing. Dominic was diagnosed with another condition in which the part of his brain that allows information to transfer between the hemispheres (the corpus callosum) did not form. But the doctor said he could help, adding that most babies with Dominic’s condition died through abortion.
Dominic proved the negative doctors wrong when he was born with a near-perfect Apgar score. He underwent surgery and needed to partake in occupational therapy, but today he is a happy seven-year-old who plays basketball and who recently became a big brother.
Fiona Grace Dunn
At their 20-week ultrasound, Autumn Dunn and her husband David learned their preborn baby girl had a condition called holoprosencephaly, in which the front portion of her brain did not form properly. Doctors predicted that she would die in the womb or shortly after birth, and recommended abortion. The couple refused.
As the pregnancy continued, doctors found that baby Fiona Grace’s heart was enlarged and part of her brain tissue was missing due to a build-up of fluid. Despite the grim prognosis, when she was born, she put up “a good fight,” according to her mother. Fiona Grace amazed doctors, who determined that her condition was not as dire as they had thought.
Now three years old, Fiona Grace is doing well. She has undergone surgeries, lives with heart conditions and seizures, and takes part in occupational therapies. She is a “happy” and “sweet” girl who is loving her life – including time at school and with her siblings – according to her mother.
During pregnancy, Jaxon’s parents, Brandon Buell and Brittany Buell, learned that their son was missing part of his brain. Though they didn’t have an actual diagnosis, doctors suggested abortion, but the parents decided that they would let God decide how long their son had to live.
After his birth, doctors confirmed that Jaxon had lissencephaly, in which the brain doesn’t develop with the folds that it should. His parents fought hard to find the right doctors to care for their son. They even flew out of state in hopes of finding the best care for Jaxon.
Jaxon passed away in April 2020 after over five years of bringing love and joy to all of those around him. He lived a happy life and was a well-loved boy. He had a small vocabulary and his mother was always there to understand his needs. Months before his death, Jaxon also became a big brother. No matter what challenges Jaxon faced, his life was immeasurably valuable. He defied the doctors’ predictions on his life and amazed everyone.
No diagnosis could ever take away a child’s inherent value or make them any less of a gift.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated after news of Jaxon’s Buell’s passing.
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