The Roe v. Wade ruling was recently overturned, meaning the decision to ban abortion is now given back to each state to determine if they will legalize it or not. I define an abortion as the intentional termination of a baby's life at any point after a sperm meets an egg, and to me, this act of murder of an unborn baby is vile. Women have a variety of reasons for pursuing abortion, but one reason in particular sticks out painfully close to heart. How many women abort a baby based on if the baby is born with a physical challenge or disability? The Guttmacher Institute reported in 2004 that 13% of women have an abortion due to "possible problems affecting the health of the fetus." This statistic is heart-shattering. Read that again: thirteen percent. To think that many women would choose death over life simply because of a disability in their baby is unfathomable. This is a prime example of ableism, which is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, "discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities." God only has power and right to be divinely divisive, as He divides the souls that have faith in Him and those that do not. The Lord speaks sharply against humans showing one another discrimination and partiality such as ageism, ableism, and racism, which destroy and demean the human who God made to be. Peter, a disciple of Jesus, sets a stellar example of reflecting the Lord's heart of not showing partiality to another in Acts 10.
"When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, 'Stand up; I too am a man.' And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, 'You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.' So Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.'" ~ Acts 10:25-29, 34 -35 (ESV)
Medical diagnostics have come a long way, including the progression of prenatal testing. This can be a wonderful tool to help provide for medical care preparations for a baby or to rule out diagnoses in a baby. Yet, this modern medicine advancement proves dastardly when it is used as a tool for determining whether a child is worthy of life or not based on their positive results for a disability, and a woman is coerced by healthcare professionals, family, or friends into committing a murder simply because the baby is diseased. This act of coaxing and immediate withdrawal of willingness to have a baby with a disability screams ableism, as society builds in peoples' minds that healthy babies are valued far above unhealthy babies. "They won't have a good quality of life. Life will be very hard for them, and their life will be shortened," doctors warn. "A medically challenged child isn't affordable!" parents and loved ones may argue in dismay. "The baby won't be accepted by peers and never achieve milestones," friends chime in their two cents. Ableism is just as cruel as racism and other destructively discriminatory thought processes. Last I checked, humans have yet to be able to predict the future, and immediately squelching the quality of life of a child not even born yet simply because of a physiological difference is tragic. God speaks against this ideology, stating that He creates each baby with tremendous purpose in mind, as exhibited by Paul in Galatians 1:15. Ableism is sin. See it as such and do your part to destroy ableism, not the disability or birth of the child.
"He who had set me apart before I was born..." ~ Galatians 1:15 (ESV)
As I was born with cystic fibrosis and battle many life-altering disabilities, I took my research a step further to find out how many women would abort a child based on if their baby were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in-utero. CF is genetic and is easily detectable in prenatal screening nowadays. It is not preventable or curable, but this is no way lessens the value of baby who is born with CF. The results of my research were shocking and horrifying. According to a study done by Genetics in Medicine, 75-100% of women aborted their baby who tested positive for biallelic pathogenic variants which means the baby has two copies, one from each parent, of the mutated genes responsible for causing cystic fibrosis. 65% of women aborted the baby if it was found to have echogenic bowel, which is an intestinal issue associated with cystic fibrosis. To think a woman would abort a baby simply because their child would be born with a disease, the same disease that myself and many friends I love have, is heartbreaking. This research revealing the decision to commit abortion tells me that society has determined that that my life is not worthy of being lived, and I am better off dead for the good of society. Yet, God speaks to the preciousness of those He created. Sometimes, I joke that God's knitting needles must have broken when He knit me in my mother's womb as Psalm 139 speaks to, but in my heart I know God did not make a mistake or error in my creation, though my body was born broken. A broken body does not devalue a human life. We must encourage women to hold this fact close to heart as they walk through pregnancy and encounter an in-utero diagnosis for their baby.
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." ~ Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)
How can a human being created in the image of God be so belittled, discriminated against, and unvalued to the point that they are killed? Abortion in the name of the child being born with a disability is ableism. Ableism has horrific power to kill and deeply wound people too, yet somehow society accepts and silences this form of abuse and discrimination. The world seeks perfection, they are eager to weed out and cast aside the broken and those who have a poor prognosis to achieve the standards of success as defined by society. As Christians, we must learn how to see and show others how to see and love humans through the lens of Christ. We are all flawed, damaged, broken, and different in various ways externally with our bodies, some more visibly than others. Even more so on the playing field of human equality, we are all sentenced to death...true death of our souls and separation from God...from our sin internally, yet the fact that society somehow sees the need to squelch the external flaws of anyone much greater than attending to internal sin, which is the most ugly of grievances against God and humanity. We are beings made in the image of God. Imago Dei. This creation reflects the deepest relationship of love that is greater than any love ever shown in humanity. So great a love that Christ gave His life so that we could live. Physical flaws will never interfere with the living or dying our of souls, but sinful flaws will. Learn to see and treat others as Christ sees them: a soul worthy of laying down a life for and saving, a personality worth of loving, a human worthy of respect, kindness, and acceptance no matter what their outward appearance or physical flaws may be.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
Being different shouldn't mean discrimination to the point of death. As believers, we must encourage mothers of children with disabilities that their child's life is worth keeping. God had much of His work done through disabled people, such as Moses with a speech issue, Jacob with a limp, the woman with a bleeding disorder, and the man born blind, and revealed much of His mercy and grace through interacting with those with disabilities during His time on earth such as the blind, crippled, and deaf. Is a disability glorious? I would say, no. It is far from glorious; it is a life of pain and tears. But can it glorify the One who deserves all glory? Yes, indeed! I have seen brokenness guide others to the Lord more than wholeness. Only God created and designed every single human, including the ones who think they are above those with disabilities, so who are we to judge and devalue these precious babies before they're even born? Disability can be a beautiful avenue to travel down if we will trust God to work His will through disabled people.
"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." ~ John 9:1-2 (ESV)
The fact that those with physical differences can be used to display the work of God like a beautiful painting or piece of art places utmost value on physical brokenness as those with disabilities can be some of the most crucial parts of the body of Christ. Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who became a quadriplegic at age 17 and has became a mighty servant of Christ stated it wisely, "Our Saviour chose to flash His credentials as Messiah through ministry to disabled people.… A disability magnifies God's grace.... We in our wheelchairs get to prove how great and how trustworthy God is." Running from a problem by eliminating it, such as murdering a baby, is not the way one can through life. Running from problems never resolves them. Rather, finding beauty and opportunity in the challenge, anticipating the joys to come from it, and leaning into the Fortress of Christ for strength is the best route through this tumultuous and ephemeral life we have. We have the opportunity to live faithfully Choose trust and faith in Jesus, the One gave us life and adoption into the body of Christ in the first place. We must show this same Fortress and body of Christ to the women who are teetering on the fence of choose life when they are working through a pregnancy where their baby is diagnosed with a medical condition.
"...the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." 1 Corinthians 12:22-26 (ESV)
To me, this recent Supreme Court ruling induced hope in my heart that more babies with CF and disabilities will be born, mothers will choose life despite the odds, people will see these children with disabilities as valuable and learn to build a society for them, and the babies will thrive as God may use them for His will. Is it hard parenting a child with a disability? I imagine the difficulty is immense. Is it a constant struggle and pain being the one to live with a disability? I can't emphasize that enough. Yet, neither of these challenges are substantial enough to justify aborting a baby with a disability. As to fellow believers and the church, we should not stand by and simply chide mothers for committing abortion or only read them Scriptures and go to pro-life marches. Can these have value? Perhaps. But I think greater value lies in the exemplification of the good works of the Lord by surrounding the mother, family, and baby with tangible support and love, and proving that we are in for the long run of their journey. This may be through sharing resources to help with the expectant mother and parents, assisting financially with bills and gas expenses, babysitting to offer reprieve for weary parents, gifting baby supplies and medical equipment, accompanying parents to the child's doctor's appointments, helping clean and cook so the parents can focus on the child and get some rest, finding ways for inclusion and accommodation for the disability, showing special love to siblings who may feel left out amidst the focus on the disabled child, being compassionate and understanding towards the child and family, educating ourselves on the baby's disability, and abounding in kindness and the fruits of the Spirit as we serve. Lovingly see the person for who they are on the inside, accept them with open arms, and be ready to help guide and journey with the mother, father, siblings, and baby with the disability as that little baby is immensely valuable.
"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" ~ 1 John 3:27 (ESV)