Suffer the Little Children — Using Abortion to Target Disabled Kids

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 13, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Suffer the Little Children — Using Abortion to Target Disabled Kids Email this article
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by Laura Echevarria
May 13, 2007 Note: Laura Echevarria is the former Director of Media Relations and a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee and has been a radio announcer, freelance writer active in local politics. She is a new opinion columnist for

Last Sunday, the LA Times ran what can only be described as a chilling opinion piece by Dan Neil called "The Abortion Debate Brought Home." Neil writes the “800 words” column for West magazine, a publication of the LA Times.

He opens his piece with a sentence that is cavalier, if not bordering on flippant: "My wife and I just had an abortion. Two, actually." The reader immediately knows this is not likely going to be a mea culpa.

Neil describes himself and his wife as “pro-choice,” but writes that they “never expected to actually confront the Choice. . . .And yet there I was, holding [my wife’s] hand, watching the ultrasound as a needle with potassium chloride found its mark, stopping the heart of one male fetus, then the other, hidden in my wife’s suffering belly.”

How did this come to pass? We learn that on their third attempt at in vitro fertilization four of the five implanted embryos had survived. The two boys and two girls were thriving. But there were two too many, according to Neil.

He writes, “Beforehand, the fertility specialist asked us if we were OK with ‘reduction’ also known as selective abortion—in the event that too many took hold. We said yes, not really appreciating what that meant.”

This statement is as shockingly matter of fact as it is stunning. What do you say to someone who can hold’s his wife’s hand while coolly watching as his children, children he supposedly desperately wanted, are killed with his blessing?

Neil distances himself from accountability by insisting, “We didn’t want to. We didn’t mean to. We didn’t do anything wrong, which is to say, we did everything right.” Later, again in that morally tone-deaf manner that characterizes the entire piece, he adds, almost boastfully, “We don’t feel guilty. We don’t feel ashamed. We’re not even really sad. . .”

But they should be. Consider:

To determine which babies should be aborted, Neil and his wife had genetic testing done to see if any of their unborn children had disabilities, “reasoning that if we had to abort two, it would be better to abort any fetuses with genetic abnormalities.”

Why? Because children with disabilities are inferior? Less important? Less intelligent? Subhuman? All of the above?

How shallow.

But the test results apparently revealed no genetic abnormalities, so they decided to keep the girls. Asked how they came to this decision, Neil writes, “Partly, it was a matter of how the fetuses were arranged. Partly, it had to do with other factors. Some studies show offspring of older fathers (I’m 47) run a higher risk of autism and males are four times as likely to be autistic.”

According to Neil, if pro-lifers like me had "suffered" as he has, I would likely change my mind about the right to life of unborn children. He writes, “I would also point out that even the most fervent abortion opponents may one day find themselves suffering from infertility and may rue supporting the court’s from-the-bench obstetrics [A reference to the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.]”

Not so. And I know from experience.

After suffering four years from infertility, my husband and I were blessed with a daughter, two years later I miscarried. Two years later–after coming to terms with the fact that our daughter would be an only child–we discovered that we were pregnant yet again, this time, with a boy.

We were ecstatic but our joy was tempered with the uncertainty of our son Peter’s health. We were told he might have Down syndrome which can cause problems with the development of the heart as well as a whole host of other health issues including a greater chance of leukemia. One perinatologist encouraged us to have an amniocentesis done because, in his words, “some couples prefer to terminate the pregnancy.”

I refused to do the amnio—Peter was our son, no matter what. Through repeated ultrasounds, Peter was later given a clean bill of health and we found out seven months after his birth that he was going to have a baby brother.

Nearly three years later, Peter and his younger brother, Nathan, were diagnosed with autism. But being autistic does not lessen our love for either of them.

Likely Neil would consider me naive, or that I come loaded down with a holier-than-thou attitude. Neither is true. I have my battle scars, thank you very much, and there are many other pro-lifers just like me.

We all may not have dealt with infertility but the pro-life movement is comprised of many of us who have. And we are joined in the ranks by those of us who have children with disabilities, women and men who suffer from the aftermath of abortion, former abortionists and abortion clinic workers and individuals of conscience.

I’m sorry the Neil’s could not see past their desire to have their children on their terms. Maybe one day they will see that their selfishness cost them something precious and irreplaceable—their sons.