Sunday, September 30, 2012

Abortion and Special Needs

Something has to be said about the issue of aborting children with special needs. As someone with a genetic condition,considered special needs or disabled (a label I am only proudly embracing only for this post) I would like to speak to that.
One of the most common things I hear when the issue of aborting someone with special needs comes up is that it's more humane to end the suffering now, that it's merciful to end the suffering of a person before it begins.
Over the course of my lifetime I have met many people with special needs or disabilities. Asking many of these people if they would rather have been aborted, rather been spared the hardships they have endured as a result of being born with this condition they have, I have never once heard the answer I would have rather been aborted. I'm not saying there are some people out there who feel their life has more pain and suffering then it's worth, but I am saying for the majority of people out there with special needs or a disability of some sort life is worth it. Actually in having lived life with a disability of some kind, most of the people I've met are more aware of how precious life is, and are less likely to take it for granted. Also, what about the people out there who have changed the world as a result of being disabled or handicapped? Shouldn't we, as handicapped and disabled people, be allowed the chance to try for something great? And yes, I do believe that there is a point when the bad days out number the good and there comes a time we wonder if life is worth it, but shouldn't each individual get to decide for themselves when living isn't worth the price anymore?
When we abort children with special needs we are basing it on one trait. Having Glycogen Storage Disease is only a small part of who I am. I also have blond hair, and love to write. And what's to say that when we draw the line on who can and can't be born that we'll find a test and decide abortion is the best route for kids who don't have a high enough IQ to get int Harvard, or aren't born with blonde hair and blue eyes? There's already gender selective abortion, and abortion for those with serious medical conditions. The message we are sending to the world is that if you aren't born 'perfect', or 'normal',  there's no room for you here.
Another thing I hear is that parents won't have what it takes to raise a child with special needs, so then it is kinder to choose abortion rather then have the child be bounced around in foster homes. I have a few things I would like to say to that. First is that what I find is that we as a society try and find a way to estinquish pain and suffering as quickly as possible. There are drugs for labor, headaches, colds and surgery. We try to medicate heart ache and grief. But I have seen great value in suffering and beauty come out of pain. Some of the greatest lessons I've been taught is in times of pain and suffering. There is something great and valuable that comes out of suffering.
Also, there are many families out there waiting to adopt a child who just might have special needs. They have so much love to give, they want this child. Isn't that a much kinder option then choosing abortion?
I know my parents have gone through much in order to raise me. It hasn't been easy on my parents raising a child who requires multiple hospital visits per year, who requires expensive drugs to sustain life, but I am so grateful they did choose life for me. I am their child, and I have heard many times that if I had been born healthy I wouldn't be their Alisha, the child they have loved since the moment they found out my mom was pregnant.
If you were to ask me now if I am grateful for the life I have been given I would tell you 100% yes. And if you were to ask me if I could go back and change everything, if I could have been born healthy and not have gone through everything I have gone through, I would tell you I wouldn't change a thing. While it has been hard and painful and challenging I have learned so much, met so many amazing people and got to experience things I wouldn't have gotten to otherwise.
I am so grateful for the life I've been given, for the parents who have loved me, believed in me and raised me to believe I can do anything I set my mind to, and that being sick isn't a disability or a handicap. I'm just me, unique, special and loved. I have a heart full of love to give, inspiration to share and a story to tell. I have blond hair, love to write, have a passion for life and... oh yeah, I just happen to be a little different then you.

God doesn't make mistakes, He only makes miracles.


Talia said...

YES. This cannot be said enough! Thank you so much for this post

MissingMolly said...

I hear you, and I'm glad you're writing about this.

I don't believe in interferring with choice and legislating things like this, but having had a baby with Down syndrome who I would give anything to have back and who I would have died to save if I could, I've thought about this issue a lot and obviously have many complicated feelings. I'm absolutely horrified with the eugenics that our society is practicing, and I'm hoping the pendulum will swing the other way soon.

Speaking out about it, educating people, and increasing visibility really helps, I think. Thank you for your thoughtful words and perspective. *Every* person's life has value, regardless of his or her circumstance.

Thinking of you. xo