by Rebekah Maxwell
Imagine that, at long last, you and your spouse are expecting. You want everything to be perfect. So you start planning the nursery, staying healthy, and you go to the see the doctor for the appropriate tests. The doctor comes back with the test results…and tells you your child will be disabled.
The news shatters your world. The perfect bundle of joy you were expecting will need much more care and special attention than you were prepared to give. How can you afford it with your lifestyle? This not what you wanted. So you decide, based on the doctor’s diagnosis, that it would be better for the child to die. A choice so often made, it’s not unusual. Just one of those reasons we “need” abortion, right? To save us from disabled children.
But what if the doctor was wrong?
There’s no going back.
Courthouse News Service reports:
A New York couple who had an abortion after doctors misinformed them about the results of certain prenatal tests cannot recover damages.
Collette and Jeffrey Alger sued the University of Rochester Medical Center, Strong Memorial Hospital, a certified genetic counselor (CGC) and the director of Rochester’s Cytogenetics Laboratory for medical malpractice and for emotional injuries after Collette decided to terminate her pregnancy.
“We conclude that a reasonable view of the evidence supports the jury’s view that Laniewski, a certified genetic counselor, was not negligent,” the unsigned opinion states.
“We conclude that there is a fair interpretation of the evidence pursuant to which the jury could have found that defendants Hospital and Wang were negligent in reporting erroneous test results to plaintiffs, but that their negligence did not proximately cause plaintiff’s injuries,” the five-justice panel wrote. “The evidence presented ‘factual question[s] … whether, under the circumstances, it could reasonably be expected that plaintiff … would elect to undergo an abortion’ and whether that decision was sufficiently independent of defendants’ conduct to constitute an intervening cause. Those questions presented issues for the jury to resolve and we decline to disturb its resolution of those issues in defendants’ favor.”
This couple made the wrong decision. A decision that haunts them, causes them distress and heartbreak each day. It was based on wrong information, the wrong diagnosis…but ultimately (as the court points out), it was their own decision to kill their unborn child. They tore their own world apart. Why? Because they based their choices on the wrong premise.
They believed that their baby’s worth depended on his or her ability, that the little one fit the image of what his or her parents wanted for their lives. That if Baby Alger didn’t meet certain standards, then Baby Alger didn’t deserve to be here anymore.
I don’t know all the details of the parents’ reasoning, or exactly how they justified their choice. I just know what they did: they chose to take their child’s life away, rather than give them a chance to live a “less than perfect” life.
So when they discovered the truth, that their child was not physically disabled, they’re outraged. How dare you let us kill our child? We wouldn’t have done it if we knew the child was “normal”! Make the doctors pay!
Yet, as the court found, the diagnosis of a disability does not mean a death sentence. We’re not required to kill the weak…in fact, some would argue we’re required to protect them.
“Normal” or not, “healthy” or not, we all have some needs that require care and love. None of us are always strong enough on our own. When I’m a burden to handle, when my medical needs cost my family, when I need help, am I then less human? Less than a person? Is my life less valuable? Because I thought that’s what family is for…to carry and support us in our weaknesses. Not to eliminate us because we don’t fit the “perfect” ideal.
If Baby Alger had been given a chance, who knows what he might have done for his family to be proud of?
There are no “perfect people.” There are no second-class humans. Everyone deserves a chance. It’s so sad that the Algers (and hundreds of thousands of post-abortive parents) have learned this the hard way. There’s no going back with abortion. There is only emptiness, a pain that takes years and tears and the power of grace to heal.
The “law” that allows us to kill our own children for their inconvenience or imperfection will not protect us from our regret and our shame. Experts can be wrong. And the experts that told us we should kill off the weak and undesirable people are dead wrong.
When we listen to them, so are we.