Setting Them Free?! Abortion, Suffering and Down Syndrome
My mom is one of the seven children born to Bill and Dolly Rennekamp. All of mom's brothers and sisters now have children of their own, and that has left me with a lot of cousins. One of those cousins is named after my grandmother, she is 27 years-old, and like 350,000 other Americans, she has Down Syndrome. This is the connection I bring to the story I read this morning about the lawsuits surrounding late-term abortionist, George Tiller. A June 19 story by Stephanie Simon and posted on the Detroit News contains the following:
Three U.S. clinics perform abortions in the third trimester. One is in Los Angeles, one in Boulder, Colo. The best-known -- recommended by many genetic counselors -- is Tiller's bunker-like clinic on a freeway frontage road in Wichita. Outside, protesters have erected dozens of white crosses; they maintain a prayer vigil by the gate and try to pull women aside for counseling -- especially on Tuesday mornings, when Tiller sees patients seeking late-term abortions
After Susan Crocker's second-trimester abortion in August, she and her fiance spent three hours cradling their daughter, Isabella, who had Down syndrome. They stroked her scrunched red face and kissed her rounded cheeks. They took pictures of her tiny, almost translucent hands, folded across a green-and-pink striped blanket. Crocker, a 34-year-old customer service manager, keeps Isabella's ashes in a marble urn decorated with dolphins; she kisses it before she goes to bed each night. On Halloween, they each gave a Tootsie Roll to Isabella. Jordan, 5, even shares his toys with her, propping a little plastic skateboard against the urn. Despite her family's support, Crocker, who lives in Texas, has struggled with doubt and depression. "I did the unthinkable," she said. "I ended my baby's life," she said. "Sometimes I think, 'oh God, what if I was wrong?' "
Then she thinks about the room where Tiller stopped Isabella's heart. There was a poster on the ceiling of a leaping dolphin. Underneath, it said: "Set them free."
She believes Isabella is free.
"I ended her suffering," she said.
The controversy surrounding Tiller's clinic, the reason he is being investigated, is because Tiller, by his own admission killed 300 viable fetuses last year. In Kansas, it is illegal to kill viable fetuses unless "carrying the pregnancy to term would substantially and irreversibly damage the mother's health". DA Phill Kline, "maintains that the mental health concerns some women cite as their main reason for terminating -- including depression or anxiety about raising a disabled child -- do not justify late-term abortions under Kansas law." As such he has demanded access to the medical records of dozens of Tiller patients. Tiller has refused and appealed to the Supreme Court. A decision is expected soon.
Notwithstanding the legal wranglings, the testimony of Susan Crocker is in itself an incredibly damning one. The article ends with Crocker's declaration that, "I ended [my daugters] suffering". The immediate question that should scream for an answer is this. How was her daughter suffering?! Was her Down Syndrome causing her extreme physical pain or mental anguish? What is my cousin to think of all this? What is she to think when doctors legally kill human beings with her exact condition while the mother's of said children pat themselves on the back? My only solace is that despite being an increibly bright high school graduate, there is a very real sense in which my cousin has never grown up. She remains full of child-like affection and seems mostly oblivious to the uglier sides of life. There are many ways in which I envy the way God has protected her from so many of life's harsh realities. I could describe my cousin's life in any number of ways, but I would never say it has primarily been a life of suffering. We all suffer to varying degrees. We're better for it, in fact. Therefore, the vision of Tiller's dolphin poster, with it's "Set Them Free from Suffering" message is, to me, repulsive. I have a three year-old son and a 20-month-old daughter. I've seen them suffer through sickness and coughing and fevers and cuts and bruises, but I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER suggest that killing them would be a good way to protect them from what they may suffer in the future. Such thinking isn't love, it's selfishness to the highest degree. Susan Crocker didn't abort to spare her daughter the "suffering" of Down Syndrome. She aborted to spare herself the "suffering", and that's a horrible thing.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.