We Shouldn’t Abort Disabled Babies Just Because They’re Not “Perfect”

Opinion   |   Carol Tobias   |   Apr 10, 2014   |   9:28AM   |   Washington, DC

You have worth. The people you care about have inestimable value. Every human being has inestimable value.

If we lose sight of that great truth, our society will break down. Protections we take for granted will disappear. Life will become cheap.

In the throw-away culture that abortion advocates are so determined to create, every person does not have value. In their world, the worth of an individual can be graded or ranked – high if you’re healthy or well-off; low if you’re not.

downsyndromebaby19And if you’re on the bottom rung of worth as they see it – if you’re disabled, or dying, or “unwanted,” you can be killed.

Ancient Rome did that. 21st century America should not.

The Right to Life movement tackles these challenges to the value of life by working against abortion; by fighting to protect the lives of elderly and disabled persons threatened by euthanasia and “assisted suicide.” We’re constantly looking for positive ways to build a Culture of Life.

In 2006, our Right to Life affiliate in Minnesota saw another threat to the value and dignity of the human being. Children who were likely to be born with little or no chance of surviving for long – the very kind of vulnerable human being we should feel the most compassion for – were being aborted at terribly high rates.

It must be a devastating thing to be told your unborn child might have a condition incompatible with sustaining life. Sometimes, of course, the child survives and thrives despite the diagnosis. But when these tragedies do occur, they are very real and painful to the families. And often, the attending medical personnel recommend, or even pressure, the mother to abort.

In response to these tragedies, our state Right to Life affiliate worked with advocates, legislators, and NRLC, and passed an amendment to the state’s Woman’s Right to Know informed consent law to ensure parents would receive helpful information about public and private agencies and services that offer life-affirming hospice for these infants (called perinatal hospice), with palliative care, and counseling for the parents.

Armed with such support, the parents could partner with these agencies to help their children receive the love and nurturing they need and deserve. Knowing this support is available in such a difficult circumstance, parents are far less likely to succumb to pressure to abort.

The program was a great success, and now that amendment is a model for other states, including Oklahoma, where our state Right to Life affiliate is working for passage of its own law, the Perinatal Hospice Bill, HB2685.

The least we should do when a family faces the heartbreak of such a diagnosis is provide them information about the positive alternative of perinatal hospice, palliative care, and family counseling.

Intentionally taking the child’s life is no answer – any more than killing any other individual with a disability would be justified. “Perfection” is something none of us can claim, and using “quality control” as grounds for aborting a baby is unworthy of a society that respects the sanctity of each innocent human life.

There are many effective ways we can fight against the notion that some life can be deemed “disposable.” Support for laws like this in states across the country is one such way.

LifeNews Note: Carol Tobias is the president of the National Right to Life Committee.