Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Protecting the Right to Life of Those with Intellectual Disabilities

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently amended the state’s FY2011-2012 budget to exclude tax-payer funded elective abortions for low-income residents. This has sparked a furor within the pro-choice community, in particular, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Life News reports that “the group suggests the Virginia governor should support ‘a small, but significant group of women who seek abortion care due to fetal abnormality’ and it claimed McDonnell is attempting ‘to curb access to care for women.’” The types of fetal abnormalities for which a woman might procure an elective abortion include a wide swath of disabilities, among them Down Syndrome.

This proposed amendment and the debate surrounding it brought to mind a blog post published in the New York Times a few months back, in which the mother of two young boys with Down Syndrome wrote compellingly of their inherent value as human beings and the important contribution the boys make to their family and society, not in spite of their disability, but precisely because of it.

The article is a poignant reminder that in seeking to eliminate any aberration from the norm through prenatal screening and elective abortion not only are women and families hurt, but society as a whole loses the gift of a unique and very precious life. It is true that abortion immediately hurts those intimately involved – mother, father, baby and extended family, but any abortion, and in this case abortions of those with intellectual disabilities, also deprives the world of a special group of people who play a key role “in creating a more humane, compassionate, and hospitable society…[and] as a society, we need what people with intellectual disabilities have to offer.”

Elise Pino is Center Services Manager at Care Net. She can be reached at epino@care-net.org.


Julie Surface Johnson said...

Thank you, Elise. I so agree with you and the woman who wrote her story in the New York Times! Our grandson has Down syndrome and autism and we love him dearly. He enriches our lives every day and has taught us about love and compassion in ways we'd never experienced before.

It's true that his disabilities come with added expenditures of time and money. There are things he'll never be able to do. But there are things you and I will never be able to do. Does that make us, or him, expendable? The fact is that he is who he is and we are who we are . . . God's creations, made in His image.

Though some in our culture have turned their backs on God and presume to take matters into their own hands, this does not make them right or compassionate or good.

Kudos to the Governor McDonnell. May his kind thrive and flourish!