The Doctor Has Advised You

Author: A.L.L.

The doctor has advised you . . . . . . that your preborn baby may come into this world with very serious problems. Has your human reaction been one of sorrow and disappointment, frustration, maybe rage, even rebellion? Very likely your first question, after recovering from a certain numbness of spirit, was "Can't anything be done?" "Are you sure, Doctor?" "Are you absolutely sure?" And the doctor answered, "No test is infallible. Errors have been made and they will continue to be made. But the laboratory results make it necessary for me, as an honest person, to tell you that the evidence, according to our studies and conclusion, is very clear." "What are we going to do?" Your genetic counselor may be bound by law to advise you that you may choose to abort your child. In circumstances as serious as the one in which you find yourselves, it is absolutely essential to distinguish between legality and morality. What is moral always binds in conscience. What is regarded as legal may be prohibited by conscience. Human life begins at conception and ends with death. The body grows and the mind learns because life is present. What begins as a single cell and becomes millions and millions of cells is the same person. Understandably, you may feel that the words you are reading, very likely through tears and with whitened, clenched fists, are empty. Maybe they are, but sometimes consolation is all one has to offer. May it be a comfort and refuge for you to consider that we are persons, not because we are bright or handsome, or healthy or even whole. Each one of us is a person because God has created our soul, which will never die. He has formed our body. He has made us in His own image and likeness. He has looked into our eyes and given us our name and called us His children. Why God permits one of His children to pass but a short time on this earth as an exceptional child, or stunted, or sick, we do not know. Neither will God reveal His motives. Nor need He. "Have you ever in your life given orders to the morning or sent the dawn to its post . . . ?" (Job 38:12). Who can explain the Cross? "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Cor. 1:25). More than once, retarded children have helped a marriage; they have even saved it. The parents honed their sense of values-they understood more fully that to love means to seek a true and lasting good for the beloved. As they looked down a lonely and perhaps very long road of doctors and therapy and medicine, few if any luxuries, limited vacations, constant vigilance, frustration after frustration, the parents recoiled, they yielded and finally accepted. They learned what it means to love "in sickness and in health . . . until death do us part." The children, in some ways, are an extension of their parents. The child's weakness appeals to parental compassion. The very fact that a doctor's diagnosis about a specific child causes such distress to a specific couple makes them realize that they are not in the process of becoming parents; they are already parents, awaiting the birth of that child in whose conception they both took part. We hear a great deal about the quality of life-that some lives are worth more than others. That sometimes we may make an exception to the rule that every life is sacred. Thus spoke Hitler. And it is a short journey from "I would not want a defective child to suffer," to "I would not want to suffer." There are those who maintain that no life before birth is meaningful. It must be meaningful to God, the only one Who, knowing every single circumstance of every single union between a man and a woman, said at the time of one union, "Let there be life." We accept and bless Divine Providence not because we understand it. We accept and bless it for only one reason: because it is divine. Providence is mysterious. A mystery is a truth we do not fully understand, but for all its mysteriousness it is not less a truth. Your child's life is meaningful to you, else you would not be perplexed. It is possible that someone has referred to your child as "a product of conception." So are you. Not all defects are physical or mental. There is spiritual retardation, too, but God does not destroy us. At times we may act like wayward sons, but He always acts as He is, the wisest and kindest of fathers. Should you be less tender towards your child? "Blessed are the meek," said the Lord, "for they shall inherit the earth." And the Kingdom. In heaven your child will not be retarded. If God wants to disguise Himself in the person of a retarded child, that is His business. Your business is to tell Him that you see through the mask. At this time you may not be able to say to God, "Thank you." But one day, you will. For what you do to your child, you do to Him. And He will be the proper one to say to you, "Thank you, forever." "Blessed are they," said a wise man, "who see in each person a brother and in a brother a friend, for they shall be called children of GOD." Look upon your child who is coming into the world as your friend. For that is who he is-who now is among the least and most defenseless of the brethren, as Christ was, and who in heaven will be your best friend, as Christ is, and always will be. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Copyright A.L.L. 1995

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