Let Him Without Sin Cast the First Stone

by Mark Klages , Christian Examiner Contributor |

First things first – a Down's syndrome baby... is a baby. A man with Down's syndrome is... a human man first and a Down's syndrome man second. And a mother of a man with Down's syndrome is a mother first, and a mother of a disabled man second.

And abortion is murder.

Ben Shapiro recently cited an article from the UK Daily Mail wherein a 69 year-old mother of a 47 year-old man with Down's syndrome reflected on her life, wishing she had aborted her baby. Why? Because he made her life harder than it might have been and because he has not had the quality of life she wanted for her son. The article, and the overt recommendation to abort, begs we Christians address the issue.

Now, Reader, before you judge, before you use words like, "selfish" and "immoral," we should try to understand the mother's position. "Walk a mile" so to speak. First, Gillian Relf is in the minority in the UK. Ninety-two percent of UK women with confirmed Down's syndrome babies choose abortion over delivery, making the practice acceptable by nearly everyone in England. In fact, the acceptance rate for Down's syndrome abortions in the UK is nearly double the acceptance rate of so called "assault weapons" in the US – that's perspective. Gillian was a successful intelligence clerk and radar operator for the UK's Royal Air Force prior to marriage, so being the life-long, full-time caretaker of a disabled grown man, who outweighs Gillian and is much stronger than she is, was a major step backward in Gillian's life plan. Throughout his life, Gillian moved her son from one permanent care facility to another, having suspected abuse at at least one Government-run facility. At 69, she now worries about her son's after care once she and her husband are gone.

For the opposing opinion, although I am not a father of a Down's syndrome baby, I do have friends who are. They say, despite the obvious hardships, their child has brought a simple joy to their lives they wouldn't have otherwise known. I have never heard one parent claim they would be better off with an abortion. That, Readers, is the only frame of reference I have to Gillian's plight, but I would love to get some feedback from friends which Down's syndrome children.

Ultimately, Gillian wrote the article to try and convince every other mother of a Down's syndrome baby, those in the eight percent minority, to abort. For all the reasons mentioned, Gillian believes both she and Stephen would have been better off that way.

Stephen. That's Gillian's son's name. I waited to introduce you to Stephen because I wanted to be fair to Gillian. We don't know much about Stephen, other than what Gillian tells us in her article. He is obstinate, incontinent, and often confused about his reality. According to the article, Stephen appears to have stopped mental maturity as a three- or four-year-old child. However, I can tell you that my first reaction, upon reading the whole article, was anger. Not anger because Gillian felt inconvenienced instead of blessed. Not anger because Gillian couldn't fly for vacation or take the bus without Stephen staging a sit-down in protest. Not anger because Gillian didn't seem to care enough throughout Stephen's whole life to find out how best to care for him; rather, she sought facilities to stick him in, which in itself counters her argument that she is his full-time caretaker. But anger because Gillian is pushing murder for convenience.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: 'I am the Lord, who made all things,'" (Isaiah 44:24, ESV)

Setting aside everything else in Gillian's article, giving her the benefit of the doubt for every other argument she makes because I have not walked a mile in her shoes, she is still wrong to advocate murder, whether it is murder for convenience or murder for any other reason. Do not be misled. Aborting a baby for any reason other than defense of the mother's life is unjustifiable. Even then, aborting a viable baby to save the mother raises ethical and moral questions. What mother wouldn't give her life a thousand times over for that of her child?

Well, Gillian Relf, I guess.

But as Christians, how do we reconcile a Down's syndrome baby in God's divine plan? I mean, if we are to believe God doesn't make mistakes, then how do we handle a child with Down's syndrome?

How about, like a child. A child of God. A child fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

"But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, Why did you make me like this?'" (Rom 9:20, NIV)

We do not always see God's plan for our lives, for the lives of our children, or the lives of those with whom we come into contact. To a man, every parent I know that has a Down's syndrome child thanks God for the blessing and insight gained through having such a blessed child.

So then how do we handle the Gillians of this world? With love. The love of God.

"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31, NIV)

So put away your anger and self-righteousness, and pull out your fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Love both the Gillians and the Stephens of this world equally, because they already have enough hate for a lifetime. Be the Bible they may never read. Be the light they may never see. Be the love they so desperately need. And if for whatever reason the mother chooses to abort the child, give her a double portion of that love, because God did not withhold His love knowing the choice she would make. And if God still sent His Son for her salvation, who are we to judge their choice?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV)

– Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.