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Wrongful Birth?

Doctors and hospitals are regularly held accountable for failing to prevent patients from dying. But if the precedent set by an Oregon couple’s recent legal victory stands, doctors can now be held accountable for failing to prevent patients from living!

Ariel and Deborah Levy of Portland were awarded $2.9 million this month because doctors didn’t anticipate their four-year-old daughter’s Down syndrome. The Levys said if they had known about the disability while their daughter was still in utero, they would have terminated the pregnancy.

As the grandfather of an autistic young man, this breaks my heart. After watching my daughter Emily, I understand that raising a child with special needs is no walk in the park. But I also know the joy of having that child in your life. My daughter would have done the right thing no matter what. But the rich and lasting happiness Max has brought into our lives — well, we consider it a blessing beyond description.

Of course, the Levys say they love their daughter very much, and that they were only interested in the money so they could better provide for her. (And we wonder why medical costs are skyrocketing!)

But I can’t help thinking that when they said their daughter should never have been born, they were influenced more by the attitude of our culture toward children with disabilities than by the opinions and experiences of other parents of “Downs” kids.

As many as 95 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome in this country are aborted. But according to a recent survey conducted by Children’s Hospital in Boston and reported by MSNBC, 99 percent of adults with the disorder say they are “happy with their lives,” and almost as many say they like who they are and how they look.

Most tellingly, four out of five parents of Down syndrome children report that “their outlook on life [is] more positive because of their child…”

Folks, the idea that human worth is determined by quality of life might be the most destructive lie of our time, one that the Nazi’s perpetrated. The kind of grim arithmetic this involves is now used to justify disposing of those whom society deems “imperfect;” it is sickening and an offense against the God in whose image they and we are made.

But the real scandal of the abortion rate for Down syndrome children is borne out by the statistics. They don’t live miserable lives, and neither do their parents!

Many of you probably remember a photo that went viral on the internet a few months ago. It was of a six-year-old boy holding a hand-written sign which cleverly parodied an Occupy Wall Street slogan:

“I may not be perfect but I’m happy,” read little Boaz Reigstad’s message. “I am God’s handiwork and I bear His image. I am blessed. I am the 10 percent of children born with Down syndrome who survived Roe v. Wade.”

Well, the love this little boy and the Levys’ own daughter share with their families exposes the lie that their lives aren’t worth living — or that there is such a thing as a "wrongful birth."

Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.

Publication dateApril 9, 2012

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