The Difference Faith Makes

Judie Brown
By Chelsea Zimmerman
June 23, 2011
Reproduced with Permission

Yesterday I wrote about an article in the UK Daily Mail written by a mother who chose to kill her [preborn] son who was diagnosed with spina bifida. Today I was just struck by the stark contrast between her negative and fear-based vision of life with a handicapped child and a recently uncovered e-mail written by former Governor Sarah Palin on the news that her fifth child would be born with Down syndrome.

In "Sara Carpenter's" column, all she could focus on were what she imagined would be the negative aspects of her child's disability. She never mentioned faith, except to say that she was "raised in a staunchly Roman Catholic family," participated in a pro-life march as a child, but later "felt a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy." And, in the end, she gave in to hopelessness and ended her son's life. Said Sara:

I tried to shake away the image I conjured in my head of a little boy, lonely and friendless, robbed of the most basic human functions. The prospect of watching a child I'd love just as much as his sisters suffer in this way made me howl. I hugged my stomach, as if I could in some way shield him from the misery that lay ahead. …

I realised I couldn't bring this child into the world, knowing the extent to which he would suffer.

Contrast that with Sarah Palin's hope-filled e-mail "from God" in which she tells her family and friends that Trig would have some challenges, but that his life was a gift and would bring "more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for." Said "God":

At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing. But I gave Trig's mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!

I've given Trig's mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that. …

Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it "Down's Syndrome," and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!

I don't mean to imply that people of faith are the only ones who choose not to abort their handicapped children. But I found the contrast between these two accounts striking, nevertheless. As Jen Fulwiler said in her recent comments on Sara Carpenter's sad story: "Without a solid belief in an eternal afterlife, the redemptive nature of suffering, and the sovereignty of a loving God, it is the rare person who can engage in hope-based decision making."