The woman stood in front of the church to tell her story. She had never spoken to such a large group before. I was in the auditorium “by chance” that day. I had come to hear my grandchildren sing. But an extended conversation in the hallway meant I missed my intended purpose that day.
An hour later, I was on my way home knowing I had been there for a reason very different from the one I had planned.
Her story drew me in. She had been pregnant for the second time. She spent weeks in bed nurturing a baby her doctors told her would never survive. And even if the child did survive, it would never walk, never be normal.
(“It”? Such an awful word when referring to a human being.)
She should have an abortion now, they said. She fought the doctors. She finally found one who wanted to help her–to help her baby survive.
The weeks turned into months. The child arrived–a girl. She would not survive, the doctors said. But she did.
As the mother finished her talk, the doors at the back of the church opened, and a little girl did not walk down the church aisle.
She ran. Beautiful, perfect, running. She had never been an IT.
The United Kingdom perceives some children as ITs. They are commodities. The less than perfect. The less than us. Reports say the British Health Service is encouraging women whose unborn children have terminal illnesses not to abort their babies. Instead they can carry the children to term and then donate their organs.
Later reports deny that anyone would ever encourage or pressure a mother not to abort for the sake of finding harvestable organs. Even so, 11 babies between 2014 and 2016 became “organ donors.”
British law used to ban the harvesting of newborn’s organs. But no longer—not since someone discovered that “even for adults,” a newborn’s organs can be useful.
Not all are comfortable with the policy. As one doctor put it, England is paying “the price to our humanity.”
It is a question of who we are.
All discussions about unborn life, life limited by illness or disability, center on that question—Who are we? Are we sacred souls made in the image of a great God who loves all, weak or strong?
Or are we just a mixture of electrical synapses and chemical reactions, a sometimes useful collection of spare parts?
Some in England today claim that their numbers of newborn organ donations remain low, in spite of the “removal of obstacles,” because parents are not overtly offered the option of organ donation. If more knew the opportunity was available, more people would donate their children’s body parts.
But perhaps these parents know that their children are more than spare parts.
I know a mother who knows the difference.
Deep down, the rest of us know it too.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
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