Repairing a cleft lip is a relatively minor procedure in America thanks to modern medicine, but the facial deformity can be devastating for some children.
Two young brothers, Prince and Mark Orphana, both were born with cleft lips and palates in the Philippines. Their father, Alben, is a coconut vendor in Manila, and he could not afford the simple surgery for his two boys.
Fortunately, the family was connected with the organization Smile Train, which paid for corrective surgery for both boys; and today the organization reports that they are thriving. The brothers love to ride their bike together, and Prince is getting ready to go to school next year.
“Mark and Prince’s mother kept them inside their home before their cleft surgeries. Now both boys are happy and active and can play outside with their new friends,” according to the organization.
The relatively simple surgery changed the two boys’ lives, but some children are not so fortunate.
Though it seems almost unthinkable, unborn babies sometimes are aborted because they have cleft lips or other minor, easily correctable deformities. A 2013 European report discovered 157 unborn babies who had cleft lips were aborted in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. Another 250 babies were killed in abortions because they had a club foot.
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Last fall, British journalist William Skidelsky shared his family’s shocking experience when doctors diagnosed their unborn son with a cleft lip and palate. The doctor painted a horrific picture of their unborn son’s life for William and his wife, suggesting their baby would be ugly and “disgusting.” The doctor suggested the “attractive” couple have an abortion and “start again.”
The Skidelskys eventually rejected the doctor’s advice and chose life for their son Hugo. They decided: “If he wasn’t quite perfect, quite ‘normal,’ then so be it. Whatever his defect was, we should embrace it, cherish it, not take the easy course of rubbing it out.”
Joanna Jepson, a curate of the Church of England, for years has sought to charge doctors who performed a late-term abortion solely because the child had a cleft palate. Jepson argued that a cleft lip was not a “serious handicap,” which British law requires as a condition for allowing a late-term abortion.
“My teenage years were difficult due to facial abnormality,” Jepson, who had a cleft palate, said. “I also have a brother with Down’s syndrome. We both live positive and fulfilling lives.”
With such an easy, readily available treatment on hand, it’s difficult to think that families still throw away their unborn children’s lives because of a minor physical deformity. But the abortion industry has been selling abortion as a quick fix for so long that some people have fallen sway to the lie that children’s lives are disposable.
Fortunately, stories like Prince and Mark’s are shining light on this deception and proving that children with cleft lips deserve life.