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This makes me unbelievably sad.
It’s not easy caring for a special needs child, and I know that some women can’t face the idea of it, and make the choice to terminate. I don’t understand it, but I know it happens. I don’t speak out on abortion, usually, because I completely disagree with it for myself, but, again, I know it is the parents’ (not just the woman’s) choice and choose not to enter into the semantics of it.
I think every child should be given the opportunity to live, whether it be for moments, or years. We all have a purpose.
Will each of us touch millions of lives, or go on to make some huge global impact, so our names go down in the books for generations? No, absolutely not, but we can touch a few lives, make a few ripples, change someone’s life in some way.
I have known and cared for many people with Downs, and while I am not blind to their physical or mental limitations, I am also not blind to the gifts they have to offer. One has gotten on every last one of my nerves, and pushed every single button I didn’t know I had, then turned around and said he wished he were “normal” like me. Do you know how humbling that is?! I am so far off that “normal” path that the jungle that is my mind obliterates it, but like a child, trying to get their parent’s attention, he pushed until he had it, then completely skewered me with insight. Yes, my life may be difficult, and my mind may take some twisted paths, but I look like everyone else, and can talk to people, and not be spoken to like an idiot (oh, that pisses me off!) I can act like a complete goof, and it’s funny, where he would be deemed “retarded” and frowned at for listening to his music, singing off-key, and dancing in public.
Why? If he feels like singing his joy, and dancing it out, why must he be looked at like a fool? Who are we to say who deserves to live and who doesn’t, simply because they are “different” from the norm?
Why must we continue to shove people in boxes, so they can be accepted by the general public? Why does the general public matter so much? Who are they to me? Do they pay my bills, cook my meals, or share my life? How many of history’s greatest minds would never have been born, had the option to know and abort their babies been given, just because they weren’t going to be the child they expected?
Do I wish that my son were “normal”? Part of me, yes. I love his quirkiness, and his sensitivity, and focus, but it’s not the Autism I would change. I would obliterate the Duchenne, for him and every other person living with it. I would bring about an Egyptian plague kind of obliteration, if I could, to get rid of it, and ever other debilitating disease on this planet. I would give and do anything if my baby boy could run and play with his friends, if he never had to wear the splints to sleep again. I would go to the ends of the earth, chasing some fantasy fountain of perfection to know that he would never face the issues that this disease is storing up for him, but I would never, and I mean NEVER have chosen to abort him. My life, my son, may not be what I expected, and I may be stretched to the limits, and may have left regular stress so far in the dust that there’s not even a word for the level I face every day, but I cannot imagine my life without him. It would be…. less. Simply less.
While I understand what she is saying, the stress involved, the choice she would choose to make today is far different from choosing it when she was pregnant. Saying, now, 47 years later, that she would abort him in a second, is like saying she wishes it were legal to kill him now, because he makes her life too difficult. That is not something a mother would say. Those are the words of a very selfish woman. I am truly sorry that her son, who appears to have spent the majority of his life in one institution or another, has caused her so much distress, but to paint herself as a martyr, when there are so many mothers struggling to balance the needs of their entire family, including their special ones, is like spitting on those who don’t have the option, or choose not to place their child in an institution. Had she been on the front lines, with her son in her home, every day of his 47 years, I could see her attitude, but she has fobbed him off on institutions since he was a toddler, and became too much for her to bear. She has had moments, weekends, of the behaviors that are typical of those with Downs, and does not seem to understand that many of these behaviors are because he is overwhelmed, and doesn’t feel like he has any control. She gets him, decides “We’re off to do these merry things.” and is shocked when he wants his routine, and acts out in the only way he knows how! Had she been there, she would know these things, and would have the necessary skills to cope when he does this. Instead, she gets embarrassed, and wishes, publicly, he had never been born.
Just because he can’t read or talk, and is deemed mentally deficient by doctors who can’t possibly know for sure, if he can’t communicate in their language, does not mean he doesn’t hear, or intuit what she feels. He has probably known all of his life how much she dislikes him, and what kind of life is that for anyone?
I am sorry if my opinion offends anyone, but I grew up seeing mothers sacrifice the lives they wanted to care for their children, and I have seen them stressed and frustrated, but I have never seen one say they wished that child had never been born. I cannot fathom the selfishness, or the hardness of her heart, that she could say that about the child she carried inside herself, that she cared for, however short that time was, and that loves her with an innocence and intensity that is unrivaled by all but the youngest of children.
I know my opinion won’t change anything, and there will still be a lot of women who will choose to terminate their pregnancies, simply because they are afraid of the future with a special child, but I hope more women in that predicament will look to other parents who are in the fight, raising these children, and get their side of it. There are tons of support groups, and pages on Facebook. A simple Google search can open many doors to hear both sides of the story. It won’t always be sunshine and lollipops, but neither is parenting a neuro-typical child. They both come with challenges, and if we knew that our “normal” children were going to be drug addicts, or murderers, or whatever other negative things you can think of, would we start selectively terminating those pregnancies, as well?
Do we want a diverse planet, full of different minds, thoughts, views, opinions, or do we want a world full of “normal” and perfect, a pandemic of monotonous drones, all happy to dress/act/look/think alike?
Where would that line of acceptable choice be?