Wildflowers for Jade: A Life Worth Living?

A Life Worth Living?

A mother had just found out her 16 month old daughter has Cystic Fibrosis. While she was still grieving for her child’s future someone asked her, if she had known in utero, would she have continued the pregnancy? 

It is modern society’s stance that we have not just the right, but the obligation to ask these questions and make these choices. 
We are at an advanced age where these decisions are becoming available to us. We are told by doctors and “experts” that we would be wrong not to take advantage of this.  But just because we can decide, does that give us the right? 

The decision we are asked to make is “whose life is worth living, and whose is not?” 

It seems a bit scary to think that our doctors don’t consider our lives worth living if we are living it sick or crippled. These are the people who are supposed to take care of us when we are sick and crippled.

They say to consider the child, and “what kind of life would they have?” They say that it is not a life worth living. So we say, by aborting an unhealthy child, that the meaning of life lies in our physical health and well-being. That happiness is in proportion to fitness. If this were true it would be easy to prove right away. The healthier a person is, the happier they are in life. Yet in my own observations I’ve found this to be far from true. 

If this argument is being used to end the life of a child before it even gets started, to convince distraught parents that it is the only humane choice, then we should surely ask the only people who would know the validity of this statement. We should ask the children. 

We should grab a clipboard and survey each and every child with a disability. We should storm the Children’s Hospital and ask them all the unaskable – “Would you rather have never been born? Would you rather be dead?” 

How can we conclude before a child is born that their life is not worth living?  That is our pronouncement when deciding to abort a child with a disease or disability: Given the choice these children would not choose life. 

And it is, from there, a slippery slope. Let’s follow it to conclusion. IF, indeed, it is out of mercy that we end these little lives before they get started, how much more merciful would it be to end the pain and suffering of a sick and disabled child, who has already spent years dealing with an illness? If a sick life is a life better not started, isn’t it even better to end it? 

We have to come up with a means to qualify it or you have chaos. How many days or years is to be spent sick before quality of life is to be determined unlivable? Is it to be without hope for recovery? Then obviously, the old fall into that category also. You don’t recover from being old, or diseases caused by age.  

Then we can envision a happier world where the sick and the elderly are euthanized and the parents of children with chronic colds live in hiding and in fear. 

But we are a more advanced society than that, so we can’t stop there. What if there was a way to tell which children would be abused? Ask any psychologist; abuse can be emotionally crippling. Victims have a lifetime of pain to overcome. It is definitely a lower quality of life. It’s already probably pretty easy to asses the most likely candidates. Some people can look at the parents and see it coming a mile away. Now we’ll be able to do something about it. We can require these parents to abort, or even sterilize them in advance. 

Of course we can’t anticipate everything. If we miss some, should we make up for it after they’ve been abused? We can see that by our standards their life is not really worth living. And as a responsible, caring society, it’s up to us to do something about it. 

And if we use the arguments that support the legality of abortion, and full self-awareness is the determination for what makes a life human, then a lot of people no longer reach that mark. We can clear out the mental institutions also. 

There are those who believe in a society such as this. Do you? 

Of course we would have to use a different word than “kill”. Killing implies they were alive, and we have just decided that they’re not. 

Just as we use “abort” instead of kill or murder for the unborn. They say it is because they are not yet human until they take their first breath. But a premature infant who cannot breathe on his own will be put on a ventilator and given a name and a social security number. Whereas a healthy full term child – I mean fetus- can still be aborted. So then, it is not breath so much as proximity. Or is it a social security number that makes one human? It can get confusing.

It may be argued that the line is just blurry. If it is so, then who has the wisdom to know when we have crossed it? 

I think the real question is “Do we have a line?” What determines a line? What is the standard of morality, right or wrong? 

To some the line is most definitely blurry. Rather, it does not even seem to exist. Individual and societal needs should change the standards, which means there is no line and anything is permissive given the right circumstances or social preferences. Even the scenario of a world full of only healthy people. 

Yet, for most of us, we know in our hearts this is wrong, even if wrong couldn’t be determined with an argument. Because there is a line, there is a standard. A line that society’s whims cannot change. 

No human has the right to determine whose life is worth living and whose is not. That is assuming too much. The decider presumes to know the meaning of life, and the most intimate mind of God. Who can say what purpose any person has here on earth? Is it better to live a day with joy, or to live 100 years with bitterness? These answers are God’s and God’s alone, and even if you do not believe in a God, neither can you presume to be deity. 

What is the meaning of life? If you don’t know the answer, then you cannot decide whose life is or will be meaningful. 

Note: This was written several years ago, ironically even before I knew that Jaden had Special Needs and before I got involved with the Special Needs community. The beginning scenario actually happened. I was in a parenting board and one of the members had just learned her child has CF, and she shared with us her fears and concerns. She later came on with the painful anecdote that someone had asked her this callous question. I wrote this in response as I was incensed and saddened that society has fallen so low that this is even a question that we ask, as if the child was no longer a child, a person, but an object discovered to be defective. 

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