Less Perfect. Less Valuable?

Does a less "perfect" life equate to a less valuable one?

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  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."

-Psalm 139:13-16

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gail Lane April 02, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I enjoy spirited debate as much as the next Patcher, but let's keep this to answer Mr. Parker's questions and debating ideology and not the merits of the poster above us, shall we? Come on, guys (and gals) - on both sides - let's stay on topic!
Jeffrey Allen April 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Speaking of non-sequitors, who keeps bringing religion into this? Ok, so it's really swell of you to deem those who "have contributed" worthy of not euthanizing later in life. But what about the disabled four year old? The "wrongfully born" baby with an extra chromosome and crossed eyes? Those "2%-ers" who you have stated are less valueble than the rest of us? What about them? They will never "contribute" in your power-point presentation of life's worthiness. The ones you so hearltessly state limit their parents' potential and rob the more able and worthy of rescouces? Spare me the sidestep about religion, skip the pie charts and just answer the question please. What are we to do with the freeloaders tha tshould have never been born now that they're here?
Grant April 02, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Jeff writes "So...there are those who feel that aborting an unborn is akin to killing the born. I happen to be one of them, and no "blahblahblahsmallunobrusivegovernment" warblgryl will change that fact." Right . So you and your family practice those beliefs as you see fit,in this case you dont have abortions . Splendid! Awesome and good for you . I'm pretty sure that no one on Earth takes issue with you for making that choice and abiding by your convictions. Yet you take issue with others who dont share your convictions practicing their beliefs. Isnt that right Jeff? You seem to want your beliefs applied to everyone , I'm simply stating my belief that only those directly involved in the situation are qualified to make the choices for their family. You know...Freedom?
Jeffrey Allen April 02, 2012 at 06:52 PM
You do realize that my entire comment is still hanging up there where the good folks can read it in context and not just the part you quoted out of context, right?
David Leader April 02, 2012 at 06:56 PM
That's an easy one; raise them as best as you can. Those who made the decision to bring them into the world (having pretested or not so) have the responsibility to raise them as best they can. I'm not for euthenization of living people; I'm for early detection preventing children with these problems being brought in... or at least, letting the potential parents to make the decision they want. I respect Mr. Parker in the sense he made the informed decision to go ahead and have the kid; it's not the decision I would make, but that's what freedom is all about.
Kris Parker April 02, 2012 at 06:58 PM
The discussion isn't even all about abortion. Grant, we're all aware of your position on personal freedoms/responsibility etc when it comes to abortion. What we're (at least I'm) not as clear on is your stance on the actual topic. Is a less perfect life less valuable? What makes a life valuable? It's contribution to society, or something else?
Grant April 02, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Jeff writes "As for your typical unapologetic vulgarity, I wish I had saved it but I didn't. People should see with their own eyes what you think "I had coming" because I expressed an opinion that didn't square with yours. " Lest you further your attempts to sully my statements or press your point via subterfuge I'll repost my "vulgarity" . FWIW I question why it was pulled to begin with as I used no foul language at all. For the record it wasnt your opinion against abortion, it was the willingness to pass judgement on those faced with traumatic decisions that drew my ire. So here it is , again, with what I can only assume were the "offending " technical terms redacted for different words in an effort to please the Patch Nanny
Grant April 02, 2012 at 07:01 PM
"Kris..... seriously ? Dont pretend ignorance dude and dont make me go chase quotes all over the net... We both know you claimed to be "sickened" by the choices some have made, and Jeff's first comment here is where the "apalling" quote came from. Hey, I'm all for free speech. If you guys want to continue with your (self gratifying) holier than thou judgement fest knock yourselves out. Apparently you are entirely too clueless to realize how foul and hateful your comments are to people who have actually been faced with situations outside of your realm. How very typical of you and Kris to (sprinkle) your half witted all encompassing judgement as if you had some keen insight into the lives and issues facing families other than your own. I find the very idea that anyone would claim to be able to even attempt to make a valid commentary in such a personal and difficult decision unbelievable...The world is NOT black and white and every situation is different"
David Leader April 02, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Well, running for city council isn't real political office; I wanted to get involved in the community (and have succeeded); running for the council just seemed the splashiest way to do it, I have no long-term political ambitions. And you're right, I was told many times that I needed to not express my opinion as bluntly if I wanted to succeed in politics, but honesty is part of my trademark :). And yes, it's a financial burden to society. Or rather, and I'm bringing in my economic balance, it's a tradeoff. You eliminate your ability to teach someone that can contribute to society, grow, and such (or at least, is not highly stunted in their ability to do such), for someone who has a mental defect that prevents them from doing such. So in a sense, by bringing that child in, you are preventing the raising of a child with more "potential". Yes, it's a rocky slope to figure out what "potential" is, but not having a mental handicap would certainly be a good start. Again, we're not talking about 70% vs 80%, we're talking about 80% vs 2%. The cost-benefit analysis is more for criminals; in keeping them alive (being anti-death penalty), you are costing money for rehabilitating those non-lifers that may be reentering society; or taking money away that could be used for safety or such. So you're saving criminals to kill innocents.
Grant April 02, 2012 at 07:03 PM
You need a hand getting off that high horse or can you do it all by yourself there Jeff?
Jeffrey Allen April 02, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Would I be easier to hit if I were on a shetland pony? You do tend to aim low...
Grant April 02, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Kris writes "What we're (at least I'm) not as clear on is your stance on the actual topic. Is a less perfect life less valuable? What makes a life valuable? It's contribution to society, or something else?" I think you are aware of my stance Kris. It isnt up to those uninvolved in the personal and specific decision to attempt to determine "worth". Again , your judgement and beliefs apply only to you and yours
Sharon Swanepoel April 02, 2012 at 07:12 PM
This is obviously a contentious subject but one where debate is valuable. Can we please just debate the topic not the person. It would be so much better if we gave our opinion and valued the right of the person - on both sides of the issue - to have theirs.
Gabe Reed April 02, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Quit stomping around the question Grant and just answer it! While Kris may be in the know, enlighten the rest of us.
Grant April 02, 2012 at 07:25 PM
"It isnt up to those uninvolved in the personal and specific decision to attempt to determine "worth". Which word dont you understand Gabe?
Jeffrey Allen April 02, 2012 at 07:26 PM
So what about your judgements and beliefs? Not very shy about sharing them but you sure do want to shut everyone else's down, now don't you? Ain't gonna happen, chief. I strongly suggest you try the fingers in the ears method if you have a problem with people who disagree. Who died and made you the arbitor of what's acceptable and what's not? High horse, indeed... Do me a favor, if you're gonna quote me, try doing it in context from now on. People CAN scroll up and read the actual quotes not matter how you try to cobble them together to say what you want it to...
Gabe Reed April 02, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Let's say you were faced with that issue personally. Then what would your answer be?
Craig Helf April 02, 2012 at 07:56 PM
A personal decision. I hate to bring up the obvious here but someone is being left out of this personal decision. No voice. No protections. No due process. Worth of another human being is NOT subject to definition by another human being. For someone always ranting about imposing values, morals, etc. on others, it seems quite odd to say others, even if blood related, can say you are not worth living. Some of these tests are inconclusive and many cannot detect anything later in a pregnancy. So where are the exceptions? You see, there has to be some principle applied here. You can't just say "leave it up to the family". What in the case of a husband wanting birth and the wife not? Whether you like it or not Grant, this is an issue society has to take a stand on. I stand on the side that all life is precious. I stand on the side that all life should have equal protection under the law. You give this view on letting a family decide. How far along can they make this decision? ten weeks? Three months? Six months? Just before birth? After birth? What if the couple was poor and did not have access to elaborate testing but found out after birth this child had some disease they thought not worth living for the child? I can go on and on here. It's really easy to just say "let the family decide a private issue but in reality there are standards society MUST apply and this requires concrete examples and situations.
Grant April 02, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Nearly impossible question to answer but if indeed we (my family) were faced with such a decision we would weigh our ability to care for the child, his expected "quality of life" , his suffering and all the other pertinent issues and make a decision , and we would certainly not give a frog's fat fanny if our decision appalled Jeff or made Kris barf... The choice would , as it always is and hopefully (if we can keep the "Conservative Christians" out of our bedrooms and our women's vaginas) will be up to the family
Grant April 02, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Craig , Apparently you are under the impression that abortion laws actually have some effect on the prevalence of abortion. Once you understand the simple facts of human anatomy and a little historical perspective you realize that "society" has never had a say in the personal choice of a woman to bear a child to term .
Jeffrey Allen April 02, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Are you at some point ever going to actually use anything I say in context? I'm starting to think you're incapable.
Alicia Holman April 02, 2012 at 08:52 PM
David, you claim you will be running for city council and that is not really a political office. You said you just wanted to be involved in your community. Do you reside in a community void of special needs children or adults? Will you ignore their needs, opinions, thoughts, and those who advocate on their behalf? If so, I believe that should be known to those in your city. They would need to know you only represent those who are 100% productive in society, having no ill features, requiring no network of assistance...100% self sufficient! You do realize that that takes out EVERY person as we all need help from someone. If we did not, you, my friend would have no need to get involved in your community. I would hate to have you on my city council advocating for people who are less than your idea of perfect to be ignored, eliminated or whatever you want to call it.
Grant April 02, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Craig... is it the big words that give you trouble? I cannot be responsible for the rest of the world. Women can and will abort as they so choose , always have always will and there isnt a thing you or I can do about it . Crack addicts are gonna do crack , heroin addicts are gonna do heroin , sadly some of these folks get knocked up . Is it worse to abort the kid in utero or have it die from neglect or latent addiction on the a street? Not my call Frankly I'd prefer every mother to be just like June Cleaver but humans mostly suck and therefore all I can do is be responsible for me and mine .
Paramedic April 02, 2012 at 10:02 PM
For those of you that want to have abortions because it's not fair to the child or the parents and because it's a burden on society to even say that we know that you don't have a heart ad obviously don't think about what you are doing to a human. Everyone is perfect in their own way. If that's the way of thinking then you think that people on welfare should be terminated and elderly that can take care of themselves should be. Now of that doesn't get your attention lets say you have no insurance and you get in a horrible wreck which requires these firefighters or paramedics to save your life why dot they just let you die because you are a burden on the tax payer and the society!
Jeffrey Allen April 02, 2012 at 11:50 PM
You don't need me to sully your statements. You are quite adept at doing that yourself. You figured out the words that violated the terms of use and all sense of common respect for others all by yourself, or did you have help? You probably had help. (See below statement, the previously deleted comment by the King of Pleasant himself, grudgingly edited and reposted) I won't reciprocate Grant's habit of cobbling together half-a-quote so it's out of context to suit what he wants it to say, instead of what it actually says. There it is, folks, in it's frothy entirety. (Doesn't take much imagination to figure out the verbage used that caught the moderator's ire. Dude does have a history of getting booted for "unnecessary roughness" Imagine that)
David Leader April 03, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Alicia > I ran for political office, not running; I may again one day, but no time soon (obviously my willingness to voice my opinions on things is something that would need to be improved before then :)). I'll still be pro-choice at that point, more than likely (though who knows, my world views have certainly changed over the last twenty years). I have no issue with those who take care of special needs children; I even stated I have no issue with those who make the choice to bring one into the world knowing their situation, as is the case of the article writer. I'm just saying it's not my personal choice, and I think it should be a valid choice. This is something Angie and I talked about; we hav considered the option of having a kid, and when doing so this is a valid question you have to ask yourself, so it was VERY recently on my mind. So don't think I am ignoring those who are in this world; they're here, they have to be taken care of. But if you have the option of preventing more people that have these "special needs" from coming in the first place? Excercise it; that is my honest recommendation.
Brandi Parker April 03, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Mr. Leader, It breaks my heart that you hold such a low opinion of the special needs community. I've been so angry with you and others this entire time but now I'm really just sad for you. I'm so sorry that you don't know the joy of having a child speak to you with their eyes and their smile. To let you know that they love you without ever uttering a word. I'm sorry that you haven't seen grown men who are generally gruff and "manly" climb down in the floor to play and love on a "special child". I'm sorry that you have no desire to experience the blessings that come with having a special needs child. Is it hard? Yes. Are there days I feel its more than I can take? Yes. Has there ever been a time I wanted to take my special needs son and make him "normal"? No way. He's taught me more in the past 5 years than I have ever learned from anyone. Will he contribute to society the way that you do? Probably not, but he's changed the lives of more people than I can count. You have a right to your own opinion and I respect that. However, I can assure you that you will never truly understand the special needs community until you love a special needs child.
Crystal Huskey April 03, 2012 at 08:00 PM
That was my line of thought too Brooke. Eugenics.
Athens Mama April 26, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I am just reading this article today. Mr. Leader, I think your mistake in this discussion was speaking directly to Kris, because you then made it about his decision and his child, instead of an abstract issue. In regards to this issue, my life has been forever enhanced by working with people with Special Needs. I am pro-choice. I have a family member with special behavioral needs who has caused my family great amounts of stress. I can say that the attention that was focused on him caused a great deal of attention to be drawn away from the two children in the family who were higher functioning. I believe that every child should be a wanted child - because unwanted children lead to higher rates of abuse and neglect, and certainly affect crime rates. I have learned so much by working with people who have Special Needs. I have lost one parent who has literally lost touch with reality due to the life challenges faced by my family member with behavioral issues. There is some basic merit to Mr. Leader's argument, even though the delivery of his argument is repulsive at times. As repulsive as Grant's delivery of argument has been, I have to say, I agree with his platform, this decision is so personal and affects innocent children and their raising - I think it should be left up to families. Less perfect lives are not less valuable, but they do cost much more. Parents should be ready and willing to pay this cost; society has already proven that they are ready.
Athens Mama April 26, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I meant, society has already proven that it is ready - in that there are resources appropriated for serving children who have Special Needs.


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