All have a right to be born, with abilities or disabilities

Barb Arland-Fye

By Barb Arland-Fye

Nurse Jill Stanek said she was on duty when a coworker took a 21-week-old fetus with Down syndrome who had been aborted, but born alive, and placed him in a utility room to die.

“I held him for 45 minutes until he died,” Stanek said in an article that appears in this week’s Catholic Messenger about her talk at a recent pro-life event in Davenport.

Coworkers told her that most of the abortions performed at the Chicago-area hospital where she previously worked were prompted by ultrasound images that indicated an abnormality with the fetus, such as spinal bifida or Down syndrome.

My mind formed an image of Stanek holding that dying baby, who was denied the right to life because he wouldn’t have been a “normal” child.


So often we read about the would-be engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists and teachers who weren’t given the chance to live because of abortion. But what about the would-be citizens who would have been born with a disability? Isn’t the world a lesser place without them, as well?

In the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord tells the reluctant prophet: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you …”

What a marvelous thing to know that before God formed each one of us in the womb, he knew us and dedicated us. God has a plan for each of us — whatever our abilities, challenges or obstacles.

Since my older son, Colin, has autism, the rest of our family has had the opportunity to meet and interact with a number of other children and adults with disabilities.

We’ve cheered them on at Special Olympics, watched them play sled hockey and baseball, perform in plays and concerts and enjoy dances. We’ve hugged them tightly and tried to understand when they didn’t have the words to communicate their frustration. We’ve laughed until tears streamed down our cheeks when they’ve done unpredictable things — like Colin answering his cell phone in the middle of play he was performing in.

Not every moment of every day is perfect, or even normal. But how many of us haven’t experienced a sub-par day once in a while?

What I have witnessed in the circles I’ve traveled are individuals who are generous with affection and love and who have a capacity to appreciate life to the fullest — even if they have ADD instead of a Ph.D.

Because of our exposure to our older son and others with disabilities, I think God is forming our family to learn to be more compassionate, creative and appreciative of others who are different than we are.

The loss of any potential life to abortion is tragic and abominable — whether that unborn individual would have been a scientist or someone who needed a scientist to help find a cure for his disability.

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