It’s bloody amazing what people will shame parents for. It’s also scary that the reality of parents being able to screen out and dispose of any less than perfect embryo is quickly coming to pass.
I gotta ask the ethical question: if my parents had known how jacked up I would be mentally and physically would they (should they?) have terminated my life then and there?
Now, I have to state this choice is merely hypothetical in that my parents both come from ultra conservative Christian traditions that are vehemently pro-life.
Abortion, infanticide and genetic selection are concepts that they find to be morally repugnant and on the same level as murder. Even if they had not held that particular view of life and the hand of God in it, in 1968/9 genetic testing, ultrasound and all those technologies were unknown. You got what you got back then. Lucky me. They didn’t have the choice, (wouldn’t have taken it if they did) and were handed a rather dismal result of the genetic crap shoot.
I sort of feel bad for that. I am the third daughter of three for a man who wanted but never got a son, and a defective, sickly one to boot.
So if parents could know (and sooner rather than later the technologies will be in place) if their unborn offspring will be genetically “defective” or anything else they don’t want- wrong hair color or gender or height, the list goes on, how many would rationalize their way to termination?
How many already do? (How many perfectly healthy, normal children are sacrificed on Molech’s altar of “convenience,” but I digress.)
Recently I responded to a discussion on a forum for the autistic community regarding someone commenting to an autistic boy’s mother that she was “sorry” about the child’s autism. I’m sure my Mom’s friends had some of the same remarks to make about me.
They knew I was different and had multiple issues – I know the constant freakouts due to anxiety and the constant doctor visits and trips to physical therapy weren’t fun. They knew I was not and would never be a normal child. No one knew why I was so screwed up, as I wasn’t diagnosed as autistic until I was 35.
Nobody wanted to deal with me when I was a child and I don’t blame them. I was a hot mess of anxiety and insecurity. If I am sorry for anyone I feel sorry for them- my parents, teachers and health professionals who were clueless but had to deal with me- terrified and sickly as I was- anyway.
I had to think about what to say from the other side, from the perspective of that child who lives life as the deer in the headlights.
This is what I replied in the forum:
I’m autistic and have lived with it for 50 years. I don’t know anything else. I have always had a profound and deep anxiety and vulnerability because the rest of the world knows I am wired differently and I don’t respond or interact in a predictable manner. To make it worse, in the 1970s and 80s when I was growing up there were scarce health or educational resources for people like me. I am hyperlexic and was advanced in reading and academics, but was hopelessly socially inept. I have very profound gross motor deficits which made me an easy target for verbal and physical abuse- first by my older sisters and their friends, then by the kids at school. Teachers did not want me in their classes because they didn’t know what to do with me. I hid in books and music and did what I needed to do to get good grades and stay under the radar.
My parents imposed strict standards of conduct and behavior with the thought that if I looked normal and acted normal I would be normal. I learned to script and act, especially after being backhanded not once for “staring” or for “not giving so and so friend or obscure relative of Mom’s” a hug. Mom meant well, but the forced interactions only turned up the volume on my distaste for physical contact. Eye contact is still uncomfortable for me and the whole concept of body language is simply vexing. I still struggle to read people.
I have been gainfully employed since age 16. I have a business degree and have been a parts manager, and a fixed operations manager in various car dealerships. By age 30 I had serious health issues due to anxiety: uncontrollable high blood pressure (still takes high doses of 6 meds every day to control) and severe panic attacks. At age 35 I was finally diagnosed as a high functioning autistic and got proper treatment for the anxiety and depression and panic attacks. These issues do not “go away.” Meds help (Prozac and Catapres) but it’s management, not a “cure.”
All this being said, I would not wish my wiring and all the physical and mental health issues that go with it on anyone. Even so, I cannot imagine being any other way. My particular manifestation of autism is a double edged sword. I see and experience the world in ways others don’t and can’t understand, but I miss much and can’t experience the world like the “normals” do. I thank God my son (age 28) is neurotypical and that he doesn’t have anxiety or the motor and visual deficits I have. He sees the world in a way I can’t. This being said, I have still had and continue to have a full and accomplished life by the grace and mercy of God. I am not sorry for the way I was made even with its disadvantages and challenges.
I still have to ask a valid question (again playing devil’s advocate.) Is my life worth the aggravation I imposed on others?
That’s the question at the heart of eugenics. Which people are worth the investment of resources and which aren’t?
If the traditional Christian teaching that the humanity and worth of an individual begins at conception is edged out by the rationalizations of the various Molech worshippers- whether the altar is one of convenience or of genetic imperfection, then whose lives are valuable and whose are not?
Is my life less valuable because of the way I am wired, or even because of the fresh hell it has to be to try to raise an autistic child?
It’s already considered “acceptable” among many to abort children with Down’s Syndrome because it can be identified via genetic testing. In some countries almost all Down’s children are aborted, even though people with Down’s can live happy, fulfilling and productive lives.
Either we believe that life is sacred even when it is imperfect or frightening or inconvenient or we risk losing our humanity.
The reality is that the human condition includes suffering. Not that we should strive to cause more, but that our attitude should be that people’s lives are worth the aggravation and worth the investment.
Today it’s seen as a travesty if a child is conceived at an inopportune time, or if he or she is the wrong gender or he or she has certain genetic faults.
Where did we get the hubris to think we were in charge of the process?
I’m not sorry to be alive. I’m not sorry I’m autistic. I am sorry that the world is coming to such a pragmatic and utilitarian place that we fail to value life even in its more challenging forms.