In the blog, Ancient Paths, Ashley McMillan reflects on the gift of life as a disabled person in a “throwaway culture,” that is a culture that rids itself of people it doesn’t want. She explains what it was like for her mother to find out that she was born with a partial limb, an abnormality she describes as “nothing major.”
Ashley writes, “I am the third child of five. This was not my parents first trip to the hospital for a baby. They knew the process. This time, though, the outcome was different. They did not give a young mother her baby. Everyone moved in quiet panic around the room, each focused on their designated job. When the doctor finally approached her bed, she spoke words that still resonate in my mother’s mind today….Before I let you see your baby, I have to tell you that there’s something wrong with her”. I cannot even begin to imagine the sorrow of hearing such words.”
At the time doctors couldn’t be certain that there wasn’t more involved with Ashley’s disability than just an abnormal limb; and her family didn’t know how to raise a child with something different than the rest of their children. After her parents left the hospital, they went home to a world of uncertainties. Would Ashley be able to do things their other kids could do like crawl, tie shoelaces, write and play jump rope? The answer was yes; and in time Ashley learned how to do all those things and more.
Ashley said, “Each little thing I conquered was a big deal until everyone grew so accustomed to my adaptations that they ceased to be noticeable. I was just one of those “ol’ Istre kids” like my siblings. Life was wonderful.”
Thankfully, Ashley was blessed to have parents who didn’t value her based on her disability; instead they loved and cared for her just as much as there other children.
But Ashley asks us to ponder an important question: “If you would have been my parents and knew that you carried a baby with a deformity, a baby who may have other unseen disabilities, and the doctor muttered the words to you “there’s something wrong with her”…….would you have aborted me?
I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am human. I am different, but aren’t we all. And I would not be here had I been conceived to different people in a different time who wanted a child without flaw. When you stop and connect a real, living, breathing human being to abortion, things become more complicated. If you think people don’t still opt to abort babies with differences like mine, you are wrong. It happens every day. People look at what they have been given and decide it is not good enough. ‘It’s no big deal. We’ll try again later for a perfect baby. It’s not like it’s a human yet anyway. It’ll never amount to much. Society would reject such a child. Who would marry a person like that? We have to think of our future. We’re really protecting it from a lifetime of struggle. It’s for the best…Isn’t it?’
A disability like mine means certain death to many unborn babies. This is a thought I cannot escape. We were exactly who we are before our hearts ever made a thump, before our mother ever felt us move inside of her womb, before the world knew if we were he or she. We were nameless to our parents, but our Father had already adorned us with the name “wonderful”. We were unknown, but the Lord’s eyes “saw [our] unformed substance”. I am no mistake. My heart grieves for the little ones gone and the mothers and fathers who never held their tiny bodies or kissed their sweet new skin. No earthly thing can fill a chasm so deep as a child lost. The grace of the cross, though, is a greater thing than the weight of our sin, and redeeming love awaits us all. All have fallen short and all can receive salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ. There is hope and restoration in Him, this I know. His promises are good. His words are true. His thoughts of us “outnumber the sand” and they are precious. He makes no divisions of race or ability. He chose life for you.
Think about life, ponder it….Do you take it for granted so much that you would choose to rob another of such an ability? Would you choose life? Would you choose me?