For couples, there is perhaps no more frightening time in life than childbirth. The past, present, and future all seem to collide as the soon-to-be-parents await the delivery of their new child, and cautiously begin building hopes for its future. The sense of promise is almost palpable, but for many parents, this can all change in one heartbreaking instant. Bernadette and Philip Smith were one such couple. Already the parents of seven children, the two were devastated when doctors informed them their upcoming daughter would be born with Trisomy 18.
Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome, is a genetic disorder that causes severe birth defects in children. The doctors informed Bernadette that their daughter likely wouldn’t see her first birthday, and advised her to abort. The Smith’s refused. Despite continued pressure from their doctors and against all odds, Bernadette gave birth to their new daughter, Hannah. As she reflected on the birth, Bernadette said,
I held onto faith and the Word of God. It saved Hannah. I just kept believing the Lord’s Word. Three months later the doctor could not believe it. The holes were closing and the doctor threw his head down because he was in shock. They told me she was blind. I said, ‘No she’s not. She can see.’ I took her back to the eye doctor after years of the doctor saying she was blind and the eye doctor said to me, ‘This girl can see. Let’s get her some glasses.’ There was just so much warfare, but she triumphed over everything. God just brought her through so much.
Though Hannah eventually succumbed to her illness, the Smiths do not believe their time or suffering was wasted. The five years they had with their daughter (longer than the doctors predicted) was a blessing that can never be replaced. While the Smith’s decision to go through with the pregnancy is inspiring, it has sadly become a rarer occurrence. With the continued evolution of medical technology, it has become easier for doctors to detect the presences of disabilities in the womb. When discovered, most couples choose to abort rather than give life to an “imperfect child”.
In a recent article on Religion Today, author John Stonestreet revealed that a shocking 90% of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted. Stonestreet writes,
What we’re seeing is not isolated cases of moral failing. It’s a culture that values human life based on usefulness and perfection, and targets for extinction those deemed too weak, too expensive, or too inconvenient. As embryologist and in-vitro pioneer Robert Edwards predicted chillingly in the late '90s, ‘Soon it will be a sin for parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of a genetic disease. We are entering a world,’ he said, ‘where we have to consider the quality of our children.’ That, my friends, is frightening and appalling.
Stonestreet is not alone in his beliefs. Every day we are reminded that there is no such thing as a perfect human. We are all, in some way or another, broken instruments desperately in need of repair. Yet Christ has shown us we are also reflections of the living, eternal God. Imperfect reflections, yes, but who are we to decide the worth of a child’s life?
God does not make mistakes.
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com.