Disability - what if the fetus is or could be disabled?
It is natural to want to "save from suffering the unborn innocent"
as was written in Susan
B. Anthony's Revolution.
If actual or potential disability is a reason to devalue children before birth,
what cruel message does this send to persons with disabilities who are already
say to someone in a wheelchair that s/he should never have been born? That's
the message people get when they talk about "gross fetal anomalies."
artists, musicians, writers with disabilities or no fault brain disease have
enriched our world? Would artist Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings have had
a bigger impact if he were taller in stature? What would our world be like without
the contributions of artist Van Gogh, musician Beethoven, or writer Sylvia Plath?
People who overcome adversities challenge and enrich our world.
with disabilities have often been devalued as women once were. But through the
Americans with Disability Act, we demonstrated our commitment to those with
There is another message sent to mothers by well-meaning people, especially
those in health care—that mothers should spare themselves and the world
from those with special needs.
Imagine the angst of the more than 400 women in Great Britain who aborted after
hearing their child would be developmentally disabled, only to learn afterward
that they had aborted perfectly healthy children.
And imagine what those women have lost who aborted their specially-gifted children
on the advice of well-meaning doctors, family and friends. The strongest hug
I've ever felt in my life was a gift from a child my mother taught in special
Just as we desire to spare those children who are severely disabled, it is also
natural for us to want to spare the parents suffering. But the children my mother
taught in special ed, and the contributions that my mother and sister—both
now disabled—make in this world, reveal that we never know the way the
story will end, or what could have been if we refuse to end a life prematurely.
Jeannie Wallace French, executive director of the National Women's Coalition
for Life provided a powerful personal story during the 1996 hearings before
the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.
French described how physicians recommended aborting her twin daughter, Mary,
after she was diagnosed as being anencephalic. (Anencephaly is a congenital
defect where the fetus does not have a brain.) However, the Frenches were determined
to do everything possible to save their daughter. And if they found they were
unable to take care of her, they learned there were couples awaiting adoption.
Mary lived just a few hours after birth. Her father had a chance to hold her.
But that's not the end of Mary's story.
Jeannie testified, "Three days after Mary died, on the day of her interment
at the cemetery, Paul and I were notified that Mary's heart valves were a match
for two Chicago infants in critical condition. We have learned that even anencephalic
and meningomyelocele children like our Mary can give life, sight or strength
to others. Her ability to save the lives of two other children proved to others
that her life had value—far beyond what any of us could ever have imagined.
life lasted a total of 37 weeks 3 days and 6 hours. In effect, like a small
percentage of children conceived in our country every year, Mary was born dying.
What can partial birth abortion possibly do for children like Mary? This procedure
is intended to hasten a dying baby's death. We do not need to help a dying child
die. Not one moment of grief is circumvented by this procedure."
daughter, living less than a day, saved the lives of two other children. Which
of us, even after decades of living, can make the same claim?” Jeannie
I hope you
will join Feminists for Life now to advocate the unmet needs of pregnant women,
parents and children—born and unborn—including those who enrich
our lives through their special needs.
women deserve better,
Feminists for Life
week’s question: Final thoughts.
we've done for women lately.
is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better
REFUSE TO CHOOSE® WOMEN DESERVE BETTER®