Sunday, March 11, 2012


This is probably an unconventional topic for a gay Mormon blog, but I recently read an article in the news today that makes me feel like I should stand up more for the things I believe in. But, since I'm at my core a searcher, I'm also going to look at the other side as well.

Ariel and Deborah Levy have three children: two boys and a girl. Four years ago, shortly after her birth, their youngest was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Deborah was not expecting to get pregnant with Kalanit at age 34, so the parents had several tests done to ensure that Deborah and Kalanit would be healthy through the entire pregnancy; all tests came back normal. However, shortly after her birth, Kalanit was diagnosed with DS. Now, four years later, the Levys have sued the hospital where Deborah and Kalanit received prenatal care for "wrongful birth," under the assumption that staff botched the tests and that had the family known that their daughter would have DS, they would have terminated the pregnancy. The Levys were awarded $2.9 million in the lawsuit, which is the estimated cost of care over Kalanit's expected lifetime. (Source 1, Source 2)

After reading about these events, I was initially horrified. The Levys' attorneys attested that they love their daughter very much, something that seems at odds with the sentiment that, given a second chance, they would have aborted their daughter. And, knowing that children with DS are often given less credit than they deserve regarding how much they actually understand about their world, my heart broke for little Kalanit, knowing that she probably had some knowledge of her parents' lawsuit. What an awful thing to hear from your parents: "We would have aborted you if we'd known."

The backlash against the couple has been predictably fierce. They've received death threats and the comments on the news articles are generally derisive and critical of the Court's decision and the Levys' actions. At first, I admittedly fell into that camp (and to be honest, I'm still mostly in that camp). But after pondering it, I understand how they could say that they love their daughter and still would have chosen to abort her. But I think their reasoning is misguided. (Additionally, I feel like if they should be paid for the hardships their daughter will face, then fairness would dictate that they owe the hospital money for all of the love and positive aspects of her existence.)

From my viewpoint, the argument for abortion of a child with DS is that it will spare the child from a shortened lifetime of feeling different and excluded, especially if the child has a significant level of handicap from the syndrome, like Kalanit.  However, my argument against this point is that quality of life isn't determined by how many trophies you can win, by the job you have, or by the car you [may or may not be able to] drive. It's determined by the people that love you and the love you are able to give. And, as the old stereotype goes, people with DS are capable of a lot of love if they have a family who loves them back. Therefore, a parent who doesn't want a child with DS has a pretty compelling option in front of them: adoption.

In fact, I think that option is open for 95% of the reasons arguing for abortion. Unwed women, teenage mothers, and rape victims can turn their mistakes or the terrible decisions of others into great blessings for childless couples everywhere. I admit that this is a slight oversimplification, because I'm not sure of the ratio between childless couples and abortions (perhaps those children would remain unwanted), but according to my anecdotal evidence based on every accidental pregnancy I've ever witnessed, each child ended up with a wonderful adoptive family.

As an additional caveat to my previous statement, I think that in a case of rape, a decision to abort the child is completely justified. Asking a woman to take potential health risks to deliver a child in whose creation she had no say is unfair to her, but I still think that victims can do a lot of good and give an amazing gift if they feel so inclined.  A friend of mine is adopting a rape baby and the mother, in my eyes, is one of the most selfless women I have ever heard of.

I'm still refining my opinions on whether or not serious degenerative conditions like spina bifida detected in utero justify an abortion. Those incredibly painful diseases aren't readily remedied with love like DS is and often, the child doesn't live past toddlerhood anyway. That one I'll have to think on more.

Alright, now that I've said my piece using logical ideas, I'm going to back it up with my testimony.  I think it's the height of hubris to decide whose life is worth living and whose isn't. There's value in all life, even the most painful. There are justifications behind abortion, but by and large, the Lord has sent these children to the earth and has given them the chance to grow and become, regardless of the circumstances under which they are born. By and large, abortion is wrong. It's a willful, petulant display that we know better than the Lord and that this child is incapable of being happy or of bringing happiness to others. It's the acme of pride, the pinnacle of irresponsibility.  Without vilifying the individuals who have participated in it, I wholly and completely disagree with its use as birth control and strongly contend with it when it's used to "spare" a child or a family from hardship.  Sparing people from hardship is God's job and if you take it into your hands, what you might actually be sparing someone from is a life that is full of spiritual growth and fortitude.

Those who irresponsibly use abortion may not be bad people; in fact, they may genuinely and selflessly be concerned with what is best for the child. But, in my opinion, those decisions are based on misinformation.

As always, I invite contending opinions and personal stories. Share here or at gay mormon pioneer at gmail dot com.

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Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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