“Statistically, there is no hope here.”
That’s what one doctor told former Senator Rick Santorum and his wife Karen when their daughter Bella was born.
More than nine years ago.
The doctor referred to Bella as “baby”–because somehow we are more human when we have a name. And he could not bring himself to attribute humanity to her.
Doctors say “incompatible with life.” So they don’t treat the child. The child dies. The genetic condition took that life, right?
Or did the lack of medical treatment fulfill the prophecy?
I heard Rick Santorum speak to a pro-life crowd before he announced his presidential candidacy in 2012.
He didn’t discuss policy. He told us about Bella.
And he told us about himself in a very transparent way. He admitted he had not allowed himself to love Bella as he loved their other children.
When you think you’ll lose someone, it’s easy to tell yourself that it’s best to never truly embrace them to begin with. Then when you do lose them, it won’t hurt as much.
It’s only human nature to build such walls around our hearts. But it seems our society at large has done just that.
The Santorums had to work hard to make sure Bella received treatment. They had to be assertive in demanding that she get what any “normal” child would receive without question.
What they did receive was morphine for her for when she would go into cardiac or respiratory arrest. “Getting a prescription for oxygen, however, was a battle.”
Trisomy children like Bella and babies with other genetic disorders don’t always get the treatment they need to defy the odds and live.
They die and we are left to wonder what may have killed at least some of them. Their disorder or neglect?
Many more children don’t get the chance to defy the odds. Prenatal tests indicate a problem. The parents panic. They abort the child. They extinguish that life.
And sometimes the child they erase–or think they erase–from their lives is perfectly normal.
Negative test results–ones that show no abnormalities–are reliable. But positive results can be wrong half the time.
It’s not a greater tragedy that a normal child was aborted instead of one who had a disorder.
The greater tragedy is that our own hearts are so closed to those we consider less than ourselves.