Disability and Abortion: Where Do You Stand?

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*DISCLAIMER* Im not writing this to make anyone’s blood boil. The two experiences I am about to share simply have had a huge affect on my soul, because I’m due in 4 weeks and my belly is the size of a basketball.

Several weeks ago, I was waiting for my pre-natal check up and a stranger in the waiting room, came and sat by me and asked about my beliefs on abortion. Random. It took my mind back to a class in high school, where I ended up being in an argument about abortion.

It was one of those ‘citizenship’ classes, meant to expand your view on the world. Imagine it, a bunch of awkward 16-17 year olds being forced to discuss whether abortion is ok or not, and why. Now, I don’t remember if no one else there had the courage to voice their opinion, or whether the teacher knew I opposed abortion except for health reasons or rape, and picked me to speak against one of the most volatile guys there. All I remember is that my 17yr old stand point was “I’m a Christian, and I believe in the sanctity of life. God’s way is abstinence before marriage and my understanding is that after marriage the only appropriate times for abortions are if the mother’s life is endangered or if it’s a rape.” My opponent’s stand point was “I have a cousin with Down Syndrome and I think it would have been better he had never been born, because of how hard it has been for him and my family to have a good life.”

Now remember this was penultimate year of high school- or as we say in England, Sixth Form. Neither of us were scholars or qualified with anything more than our wits. Both of us passionate and stubborn. Both of us justified in our understanding. Our classmates not daring to side with either of us, likely for fear of being labelled ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’. I knew for a fact I was one of 3 confirmed virgins in the room (maybe there were more but come on, who admits that when you’re 17). So, I knew that not many were into the whole ‘abstinence’ thing, and maybe they all agreed with my opponent. Who knows.

We battled it out for what seemed like forever. Definitely one of the longest hours of my life. And, it was definitely a time I thanked God for my brown skin because no one could see I was blushing like crazy. I remember that my opponent asked me a very piercing question “so if you get pregnant, and you find out your kid has Down syndrome, you’re telling me you wouldn’t consider an abortion?” I remember his blue-green eyes, glaring at me, filled with anger and pain. “No. I don’t think I would.” I replied as calmly as I could. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” He retorted, and started saying something about ‘religious brainwashing’. And that’s all I remember about the vocal part of the debate. Besides that, the two of us pretty much avoided each other for the rest of our time at Sixth Form. The thing I remember the most vividly from that day is the feeling of fear- fear of having to stand alone. The feeling of being judged and labelled as “a blind Jesus follower”. The sudden dislike for my teacher, for making me be the one to debate the pro-life stand point- he was a bubbly sociologist with a lisp- he knew about my beliefs, but would occasionally check in and ask whether my ‘church was a cult’ or whether I was sure I was a Christian. (I would usually invite him to church with me when he said such things to see for himself, or remind him that the name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints so we definitely are Christians.)

Back to the present, now I’m older and wiser, I have 4 very close friends who struggle or have struggled with infertility. I have 2 very dear friends who are parents to children with disabilities. And, closer to home, our new next door neighbors are parents to a set of autistic twin boys. I see glimpses of their woes, and  my heart breaks with them when they tell me about their hard day with the children, or being the only ones in their friendship circle without children. My heart soars when I sense their love for their current or future family. I admire their relentless efforts and hope. Part of me wishes that this older pregnant me could teleport back to that classroom 8 years ago, and report all of this back to that angry boy, to tell him my answer would still be no to an abortion if I were having a Down Syndrome baby. And, simply try give him some peace, if not to merely honor everything his family must have been doing, for that Down Syndrome Cousin, whom he so fervently wished had never been born.

Back to the waiting room- the woman I conversed with started to share her story, and asked me about my feelings on abortion, We both found tears coming to our eyes. I looked tenderly at my own child. I felt my 33 week fetus kick in my belly. She told me that she had had an abortion once, and that she still carries guilt from that decision 10 years ago. She told me she felt strongly that the baby she conceived should have been given up for adoption, but her boyfriend at the time bullied her into an abortion. She then told me about how the baby she is pregnant with now (she was 10 weeks pregnant) could have a disability, because on her partner’s side there are siblings with disabilities such as Aspergers and Down Syndrome. She then boldly stated that even if that’s the case, she feels a great sense of peace. That even if the baby is born with one of those issues, they have committed to love and raise that child in joy and happiness, because her and her partner believe that “everyone should have the chance to live.”

What a moving concept- that everyone should have the chance to live! Not just be born, or exist, but to live the life they choose and deserve.

I rose slowly as my name was called to go in, taking in one last look at this remarkable lady. Abortion is still a very private and personal decision. And if you are all for it, that’s totally fine. It’s presence and memory torments many on both sides. And, it’s hard to know that there will never be a unanimous conclusion. But, there is one thing that lady in the waiting room had about life, especially for those with disabilities, that the boy in my Sixth Form class did not, and that was hope.

Do you have family or friends with disabilities? Have you ever felt ridiculed about your personal stance on abortion, whether you are pro life or pro choice?

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13 thoughts on “Disability and Abortion: Where Do You Stand?

  1. Pat Hogan says:

    I have been a teacher of children with disabilities for many years and have observed and enjoyed their accomplishments and joys. I also fostered and adopted some “special” kids. I can’t imagine denying life to any of them. Yes, sometimes they more than a bit challenging, but they were children of our Heavenly Father and I always felt He had sent them here like this for a reason.

  2. Mary says:

    Tasha, thankyou for your article! I enjoy your articles very much. I have had the amazing privilege of doing therapy with autistic children. I love these special children with special needs. I considered it a true honor to work with them, and that continues to this day to be my favorite job I have ever had (second only to being a mother to my own three kids!!)
    I am a firm believer that we all MUST face certain challenges in this life. Every person’s challenges are different- for some it is addiction, for some it is financial struggle, for some it is poor health, there are all types of trials and challenges people face and overcome each day. For some, it is the challenging job of being a parent to a special needs child, and for others it is living a life with a disability. I also believe that, as one of my favorite movie lines states, “it is to those with the greatest character, that God gives the greatest challenges”!
    It was an honor to work with kids special needs because, I considered these kids to have extra strong and special spirits to have been given such a tough challenge in this life!! It was so inspiring to watch these kids beat the odds over and over again!!!
    One sweet little girl I had the honor of working with for two years, had the odds stacked against her. Her outlook seemed from according to doctors as she was non verbal, on a G-Tube, and was completely unsocial with her parents. However, I watched miracles occur as she overcame challenge after challenge. It started with her showing actual emotion- hugging, smiling and laughing! She began to eat solid food. Her learning and capabilities were astonishing. And I’ll never forget when I reciebed the call from her mother as she spoke words to me for the first time!!!!
    How sad would it have been if her parents had decided for her that her challenges were too great to endure, too much to overcome, and had never even given her the chance to prove all the naysayers wrong!!! It is not our place to decide who has a chance to overcome their challenges and trials and who does not! That is God’s job and his alone. I am saddened when I think about how many sweet spirits were never given the opportunity to face their challenges and trials and to overcome the odds, because the choice was made for them.
    I am against abortion! It takes accountability away from so many ad possibility award too many others:(
    Sorry for the super lengthy post… Clearly something I’m passionate about:)

  3. Linda Laura Wilczak says:

    This is a very well written and thought provoking piece. I don’t think anyone’s blood should boil based on what you have said. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and asking the questions, because hard topics are what make us think deeply. Or should, anyway.

    • tashajonesdavies says:

      Thank you, Linda. I was nervous to post this but it seems to have been received well. I too think it’s important to think deeply on hard topics, it’s so easy to ‘not have an opinion’ or not understand the gravitas of some topics.

  4. Lisa says:

    You’re very brave to take on a topic many feel so strongly about. Whether for or against, I feel a more basic tenet is that a woman has the right to make a choice for her own body. I don’t feel it should be determined by white middle aged men in politics, or by male clergy, or by anyone other than that woman. It’s between her, her future, and whatever ‘other’ she believes in. We were told we should consider ‘alternatives’ because tests came back saying my son would have Down’s Syndrome. We knew this one child was the child we were meant to have, no matter how he ‘came out’. The doctor was offended so we got a doula and another doctor, and had a baby without Down’s. And by the way, I stopped by your blog to see how the baby was coming along! Looking forward to your birth story and glad to see you are doing well.

    • tashajonesdavies says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I was nervous to post this but it seems to have been well received. And thanks for sharing your story and for checking in! the little one is due so soon, we cant wait- i will update on here after his/her arrival 🙂

  5. Debi Priest McMindes says:

    This is a beautifully written article. My personal experience involves the one-year-old granddaughter of my cousin. She was born to his unmarried son- and she came to the family with Down’s Syndrome. It’s been amazing to watch this family wrap their hearts around this adorable little baby. She is so happy, and the whole family feels her sweet spirit. Her parents recently got married and have committed themselves to raising her as an intact family. What a blessing she is!

  6. Charmaine says:

    Beautifully written!!! My sister aka sister in-law was told by her doctor to abort her baby girl because she would be born with some disabilities. The doctor also told her that she might miscarry her. My sister chose to hope for my niece and gave her a chance. After my beautiful niece Nasia was born she lived for five months and one week. This little precious girl gave our family Hope, Love, Unity, Faith, Joy and so much more!!! He little life impacted so many lives. I truly thank God for giving her life and allowing her to live that long. Remember the doctor said that she would not make it. But she did!!

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