As I have mentioned before, I was raised in a conservative Catholic home. My grandparents had a bumper sticker that read, “I vote pro-life.” Most of my friends were Catholic, and I was comfortable following the herd mentality.
When I went to college, I started to think more independently. While still pro-life, I had issues with conservative ideology. I started to become more pro-environment and pro-human rights, which have more support on the liberal side. There came a point where I could not be a one-issue voter. I believe pro-life means more than anti-abortion. It means respecting all lives: giving aid to the less fortunate, fostering peace, and protecting the environment for future generations.
In the early Obama years, I became pretty outspoken for the liberal side, and enthusiastically awaited the changes he promised. I shoved my pro-life leanings under the rug. They were still there, but unfortunately in the United States you have to pick sides, at least when it comes to voting. And my ideals are better represented by the left.
The tide changed when Kyle was born. Instantly my pro-life stance was brought back to the forefront, but this time it was personal rather than political. I don’t remember at what point in his life I first heard the 92% statistic (see What They’re Missing), but when I did, it took me days to process. I have never come to terms with it, and I will never understand it. However, learning that nearly all people who have a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome abort renewed my pro-life fervor.
Above is the first graphic I made stating my pro-life stance. When I posted it on my facebook page in January 2011, I essentially “came out” to my newer friends as pro-life. For a few years I felt protected from judgements by Kyle’s diagnosis. It felt okay to post something controversial on my page because I had a reason for it. Kyle was the face of my decision. Naively, I assumed most other parents who have a child with Down syndrome would naturally agree that all babies with Down syndrome should be protected, especially before birth.
Prenatal testing came about at a time in history when people with Down syndrome were institutionalized for having Down syndrome. They were assumed to be incapable of learning. Sadly, the fear of having a child with Down syndrome has remained, while the basis for the fear is obsolete. Some realize the immense potential in people with Down syndrome, and word is spreading. Unfortunately, many people are still closing their minds and hearts to the truth, and instead choosing to rely on outdated information and stereotypes, some of which are presented to them in the geneticist’s office along with an urging to make a quick decision.
Enter the gray area of “choice.” Nobody wants to tell other people what to do. I get it, and I agree to some extent. For example, I don’t believe we have the right to tell gay couples they can’t get married. Gay marriage doesn’t affect heterosexual marriage in any way. It makes people happy and gives them rights they deserve as couples.
It’s when other lives are involved that we, throughout history, have had a “right” to tell people what they can or can’t do. There is no “pro-choice” for murder. People can not choose to kill their neighbors, or even their infant children. Where is the line drawn? A baby is born at 24 weeks (even with Down syndrome) and doctors do everything in their power to save the baby. A baby is found to have Down syndrome at 24 weeks and abortion is not just accepted but oftentimes encouraged. It is considered loving by some, for saving that child from a lifetime of “suffering.” (Newsflash=we’re not suffering.)
The lines are razor-thin… wanted baby vs. unwanted baby. Wanted baby with Down syndrome vs. wanted baby without Down syndrome. Killing pre-birth (okay?) and killing post-birth (not okay). Enough with the euphemisms. People are upset with my use of the phrase “disposing of a life.” I do recognize that the decision people have to make to terminate a wanted pregnancy is absolutely heart-wrenching. Their pain must follow them for a lifetime. However, no matter how much pain the decision caused the baby’s parents, the facts are clear: the baby was alive, a doctor performed a procedure, the baby is dead and disposed of. The memory of the child may live forever in his parents’ heart, but that doesn’t change the fact of what was done. I do not make light of their decision, but I can’t in good conscience say that people have a right to the act.
Many people say, “I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-choice. I don’t agree with abortion, but I can’t tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her own body.” That argument works, but only until you get to the part about the other life that is affected by the woman’s decision. If you are pro-choice, then by default you are pro-abortion. You have to say you are okay with abortion if you are going to say it is okay for another person to do it.
“Live and Let Live”
Yes, by all means, do.