I can be a bit of an emotional person, but I can’t say I’ve ever been moved to weep after reading an article on the internet. That is until last week. With all of this conversation about Planned Parenthood and their purported selling of fetal body parts, I had a quick chain of thought last Wednesday that quickly made me regret ever being on the Internet to begin with.
My wife and I didn’t have a clue about our daughter’s condition (Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita) until she was born. Cassie’s pregnancy had not been easy by any means. She had low fluid throughout the pregnancy that, at times, threatened Clara’s life, she had multiple hospital stints for bleeding and even steroid injections to help with Clara’s lung development, but yet with all of that knowledge, with all of that concern, we still had no idea that Clara would be diagnosed with Arthrogryposis. For better or worse, not all families make it through the entire pregnancy before their child is diagnosed with something. Many find out long before their child will be born, that a condition will make life harder than they ever could’ve imagined, for both them and their child for the entirety of their lives.
And then the terrible thought came to my mind: “Why had I never heard of this condition before Clara?” I mean, I know Arthrogryposis is rare, but it’s a condition that affects 1 in 3,000, not 1 in 25,000 or 1 in 100,000. I should’ve met or at least heard of one person with this condition before. And so I did it. I decided to Google two words: Arthrogryposis and Abortion.
I wish I had never done it. I had wondered how many kids with Arthrogryposis were aborted, but it’s not a thought I ever entertained long enough to actually spend any real time processing it. The first two search results took me to blog posts written by parents who had terminated their pregnancies due to their child’s Arthrogryposis. I read as these parents described how they feared their children would suffer too much to allow them to live. I read them describe everything that my daughter experiences daily and determine that their child’s life should be terminated because of those disabilities. I even read a mother explain that she understood more about what God the Father did by sacrificing His son, Jesus, because she terminated her pregnancy. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. People are actually saying that ending the life of a child with disabilities is more God-honoring than allowing them to live. I was broken, but I couldn’t pull my eyes from the screen. I just kept reading and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and…
This horrible fear inside of me is that part of the reason that I had never seen this condition before my daughter’s birth is because so many of these beautiful children were wiped from the face of the earth before they were ever given a chance to survive. And I wept. To think that a little boy or little girl’s life could be deemed unworthy is hard for me to stomach. My precious daughter’s life has not been easy. In her seven months of life she’s endured four surgeries and she hasn’t lived more than a week of her life without casts or braces on her body to help her joints and muscles. She spent 34 days in the NICU and she has weekly physical and occupational therapy. And yet, this beautiful little girl is the personification of God’s grace in my life. She is the most joyous person I know and she teaches me every day just a little more about my faith. Does her disability make life difficult? Yes. Do I look forward to the day when this beautiful little girl struggles with her self image because of her contractures, her muscle development, and her scars? No, I don’t. But her life isn’t an inconvenience. It’s not a burden. It’s a beautiful gift from God; the image of God.