Tears began to fill my eyes and run down my cheeks as my husband sat beside me on the love seat and we lifted our voices in prayer for our nation. The horror and brutality of New York's recent late-term abortion laws (which legislators cheered and celebrated) were heart-wrenching; the shocking and chilling callousness of Virginia Governor Northam's comments suggesting infanticide were staggering. My heart was aching within me as I pondered, how have we come to this place?
Lest anyone is unfamiliar with what I'm referencing, Governor Northam's comments (for which he claims no regret) are as follows...
"When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way," Northam said. "And it's done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that's non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion." (cbsnews.com)
Blown out of proportion! His language is suggesting a decision about whether or not to allow a newborn baby to live or to die! His jaw-dropping statements hit me especially hard because he could have been describing my son. You see, Benjamin had to be delivered at 35 weeks due to complications. Upon birth he was immediately placed on a ventilator that was doing most, if not all, of his breathing for him. Genetic testing was ordered right away, as the characteristics of Down syndrome were immediately evident. It was soon discovered that he had three holes in his heart that would require surgery if he survived, though we later learned that none of the medical staff expected him to. Medically, he was "non-viable" without immediate and drastic intervention. (Read more of Benjamin's birth story here and here).
According to Governor Northam's rationale, Benjamin's life only had value if we decided it had value. According to him, if in a moment of emotional distress (and believe me, we were feeling distressed) we decided that we were too overwhelmed by the prospect of raising a child with special needs, it would be perfectly acceptable to allow nature to run its course and leave him to die, or possibly even facilitate his demise! According to this logic, it's as though a child is nothing more than a commodity that can be returned or discarded if the consumer has decided it is unsatisfactory and/or defective. What a dangerously slippery slope we have been sliding down since Roe vs. Wade where one imperfect human being gets to determine whether or not another innocent human being is deserving of life. How far we have fallen!
Last Tuesday night President Trump delivered his second State of the Union address. Love him or hate him, his comments concerning abortion and the sanctity of human life were striking and rightly drew the thunderous applause of the pro-life community...
“There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.”
He went on to say...
“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb. Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God.” (lifesitenews.com)
The contrast of our nation's divide was overwhelmingly apparent as he made this plea for the protection of innocent babies. As one side of the chamber rose to their feet with loud cheering and applause, the other side, including all the women, the very ones divinely designed to nurture and sustain life, sat and scowled in deafening silence. It was truly heart-breaking to watch.
Again, how have we come to this place as a nation? I believe much of the answer lies in our turning away from the profound truth that President Trump so clearly articulated: "all children-born and unborn-are made in the holy image of God." For several decades America has been steadily moving away from our identity as "One Nation Under God" into an increasingly secular and humanistic society. Self-importance and self-fulfillment reign supreme, while the belief that we evolved from some cosmic explosion long ago leaves little meaning to our existence. Without recognizing the fingerprint of God and the divine purpose and value placed upon each new life, human beings, especially those hidden in the womb, become expendable. If there is no God, then what is the basis for morality, and who or what gets to define it? In turn, we've shrouded the gruesome reality of abortion in emotional euphemisms and bought into the lie that the "moral" choice is giving a woman the "right" to choose what she does with "her body" without any interference or judgment, even if that means ridding herself of the "products of conception," (i.e. killing the very life she helped to create). With noble-sounding phrases such as "reproductive rights," "reproductive healthcare," and "reproductive freedom," we have sanitized and rationalized and even idolized the brutal murder of untold millions of innocent human beings, a staggering 61 million and counting. At the same time we applaud ourselves for the "progress" we've made in the name of women's rights and protecting women. How desperately we need to turn back to God!
As we've lost sight of our Creator, we've also seemed to lose sight of the beauty and significance of motherhood itself. With the rise of feminism, the mindset has become increasingly widespread that motherhood is burdensome and children an inconvenience. Success for a woman is defined by her career aspirations and accomplishments, while motherhood is seen as secondary and even inferior. In particular, women who choose the path of homemaking are often frowned upon or met with indifference, but surely not celebrated or given honor. This disparity was once again on display during Tuesday's SOTU. The same women who sat in stone-faced silence for the plight of the unborn, danced and cheered in celebration for their own accomplishments.
Now I am not accusing all these women of being hostile to motherhood. I am sure that many of them are mothers who dearly love their children. I am, however, trying to draw attention to the societal trends that have led us to the place that abortion, especially late-term abortion, is seen as a necessary and fundamental "right" for women. This would not be possible in a society that truly values and esteems motherhood as the sacred calling that it is intended to be.
Since I was a little child myself, I daydreamed about being a mother one day, and I have been passionately pro-life for my entire adult life. I could continue on and on about this issue that is so close to my heart, but I will turn the attention now back to my sweet son Benjamin. In the midst of the painful and shaky first few weeks of his life, a trusted family friend exhorted us to "celebrate your son every day." That which we celebrate most speaks of that which we value most. I value my little miracle boy, who beat the odds and is now a happy, healthy 9-year-old. He has taught his dad and me much about celebration. We have celebrated every new milestone that he has worked so hard to achieve and have learned that sometimes the seemingly smallest of things merit the greatest of celebration. We have celebrated the improvement of his health over the years and the gift it is that he is with us today. We have celebrated the simple joy and delight he finds in the day-to-day; indeed we have celebrated watching him celebrate with exuberance the little pleasures of life! We have even celebrated the pain and struggles we have walked through, for we have grown closer in our marriage, and we have grown closer to the heart of God. He has met us time and again in the midst of our pain and poured in His grace, His strength, and His joy. We have also celebrated the expansion of our family, which now includes four precious children, each one beautiful, each one unique, and each one made in the image of God.
(Simple Reflections Photography)
Benjamin gave me a sweet gift last week when I picked him up from his classroom at Paths to Independence (an exceptional school he attends that is specifically designed for children with autism--more on his dual diagnosis here). When he heard me call his name, his face lit up with a huge smile as it does every day, but when he stood up, he smiled back at his teachers and happily declared, "Mama!" He wanted them to celebrate with him that Mommy had come to pick him up! It's only been a year since my mostly non-verbal little boy said my name for the first time, and he usually reserves it for when he's upset and wanting comfort. But this day he said my name in celebration, and my heart soared. Benjamin's life may be simple, but his life is happy, his life is beautiful, and his life is worth living!
To read more of Benjamin's miraculous story, please check out my book Reflections from Holland: A New Mother's Journey with Down Syndrome