Is a life that is less perfect, less valuable?
Is there a sliding scale somewhere that causes someone's value as a person to drop depending on their level of "perfectness?"
Can you lose some perfectness before losing value, or is it an equal ratio that for every percentage of perfectness you lose value?
Odds are that if you asked a random person these questions they would assert that a life is just as valuable no matter how "perfect" it is. That there is no sliding scale to determine a person's worth. After all, that would seem to be the most "decent" answer.
However, if you probed deeper into the issue you might get a slightly different, and contradictory answer. Ask the same person if they would abort a baby known to have Down's syndrome, or another disease/abnormality and see what they say. After all studies show that around 90% of all pregnancies where Down's Syndrome is detected end in an abortion. (Here's a link to a PolitiFact article). Want examples closer to home? Look no further than the comments in an article in the Loganville-Grayson Patch. The article was dealing with the lawsuit surrounding the birth of a child with Down's Syndrome. The genetic testing procedure was not done properly and the doctor stated the child would not have Downs when in fact it did. So the parents sued the doctor in essence for a "wrongful birth." The parents admitted that they would have aborted the baby had they known it would have Down's Syndrome.
The story in and of itself it heartbreaking for me. The comments that followed bothered me even more, especially one in particular. Here's a portion of it:
"It's not necessarily a cold,unloving gesture to terminate such a pregnancy,but wanting to give one's child every fair opportunity in life"
The logic (or lack thereof) in such a statement floors me. What else is it but a cold, unloving gesture to terminate a pregnancy because of the results of a particular test?
As a Daddy to a special needs child who has a disease that will very likely eventually take his life such a statement bothers me beyond words. As a Christian such a statement bothers me even more.
And it should you too.
Because there is no sliding scale to determine the worth of a person. Every person is valuable. Every life is valuable.
When my wife was pregnant (all four times) we decided against having any of the tests to determine disabilities. There were a few reasons that guided us in that decision (like the false positive rates), but the primary factor was that it did not matter to us. Because we viewed that developing baby as being valuable. Not as a mistake to throw away as we so wished, but a life.
From a Biblical perspective it is clear:
"For you formed my inward parts;you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,the days that were formed for me,when as yet there was none of them."
What is it that makes us think we are capable of determining the worth of a person based on the label of a disease?
Why would we even do such a thing?
What is wrong with us that we would kill a baby with the potential for a disease because we do not find it worthy?
Where does it stop?
If a life is less worthy because of a particular disease, why stop there? What if there was a test to determine the intelligence of a baby? What if they could tell you the earning potential for the baby, or the future criminal record? The list could go on and on.
What must it take for all of us to realize that every single life is valuable based not on their perceived contribution to "society," but because they are a person.
And that makes them worthy.
And that makes them valuable.