That said, I remember especially when my first son was born. I hoped for a healthy child because I didn't know if my wife and I would have the strength and resources to raise a child with mental or physical challenges. I was less concerned when we were expecting my second son, but it's something that always kind of bothered me, to think that way about having a child, say, with Down syndrome.
In any case, my oldest is fifteen now. Science has progressed. By this time questions of "choice" among prospective families are more widely available (options for "fetal-DNA testing"), and frankly, more of a shop of horrors for the designer-child movement. It's all more horrifying, and I keep using that word because all this about whether we should kill. Whether parents should take the life of an unborn child, a baby not yet born into God's physical space. I cry sometimes when I read those "happy abortion" stories I blog about occasionally. It's so deathly.
Anyway, I'm just reminded of this by reading this incredibly intense and personal story at Toronto's Globe and Mail, "I’m glad I never had to decide whether my strange, lonely boy ought to exist." It's a longish piece but worth a few more minutes than normal. Ian Brown's son Walker was born with cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome (CFC). Ian asks his wife Johanna if she'd have aborted Walker if at the time they'd had the availability of current genetic testing:
“Would you have taken the test and had an abortion,” I once asked my wife, “if there had been one?” It was his loneliness I couldn't bear, the boy's own sad sense of how different he was. Somehow he knew that.Ian Brown is the author of The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son. There's a review at New York Times, "What Disabled Children Teach Us." It's a wise essay, and it ends peacefully. And all of this makes me count my blessings and also gird myself for the next challenges for me and my family, for surely they will come.
“If there had been a test when I was pregnant that revealed what Walker's life would have been like, I would have had the abortion.”
“But then you wouldn't have had Walker,” I said.
Suddenly Johanna began to move around the kitchen a little faster. “You can't say that after I've known Walker – would I have done something to get rid of him? It's one thing to abort an anonymous fetus. It's another to murder Walker. A fetus wouldn't be Walker.”
“What do you think the world would be like without people like Walker?” I asked. It was an obnoxious thing to ask. “Without kids like him, I mean, kids who have real setbacks.” Fetal-DNA testing makes this more and more of a possibility.
I'll always remember her answer. “A world where there are only masters of the universe would be like Sparta,” she said. “It would not be a kind country. It would be a cruel place.”
By then she was crying.