Saturday, 13 September 2008

Disability on Display

If nothing else, Sara Palin's nomination as Republican VP candidate has brought matters of disabled children to the forefront in this political season. Palin and her husband have welcomed a child with Down's Syndrome into their family.

Unfortunately not all are willing to accept children as they are rather than as they might be. Wesley Smith at SHS blog has a disturbing post about a mother who murdered her disabled child.

Joanne Hill, 32, planned the murder after her husband refused to allow their daughter, Naomi, to be adopted, it was alleged.

A jury heard how Mrs Hill struggled to cope caring for the youngster, who suffered with cerebral palsy. She wore callipers to help her walk and had poor hearing.

Opening the case for the prosecution Michael Chambers QC told Chester Crown Court that Mrs Hill was "ashamed and embarrassed" of her daughter's condition and murdered her in a "determined and planned act".

"Joanne Hill could not come to terms with the fact that her daughter Naomi was disabled," he said.

"Instead of seeking help from the social services, she quite deliberately and consciously acted to kill Naomi."

Mrs Hill allegedly planned the murder for the afternoon of November 26 last year knowing her husband Simon would not be home until 5.30pm.

After picking up Naomi from the childminder she drove them to the family home in Deeside, Flintshire, north Wales, poured herself a glass of wine then ran a bath.

Mr Chambers said: "When the bath was full she told Naomi she was having a bath, but Naomi didn't want one. The defendant carried her upstairs and undressed her.

"The defendant put her in the bath and drowned her by holding her head under the water for a long time until she was dead."

Smith writes:

Princeton University's Peter Singer and some other bioethicists argue that killing unwanted babies is perfectly fine since babies aren't persons. Babies born with disabilities and terminal illnesses are already being subjected to infanticide in the Netherlands--acts of murder under Dutch law that go unpunished, and which have been supported by prestigious medical and bioethics journals such as in an article published in the prestigious Hastings Center Report. Here in America, 90% of fetuses testing with genetic anomalies such as Down or dwarfism are not allowed to be born--a eugenics action sometimes encouraged by doctors and genetic counselors. In Canada, Robert Latimer murders his daughter Tracy because she had cerebral palsy and is embraced by many there as a loving and compassionate father. Meanwhile, some people savage the Palins because they are affronted by Trig's presence in the world and a Canadian medical official worries that it could mean more parents deciding not to abort their disabled babies.

We as physicians have wonderful opportunity to affirm life from conception until natural death. Our patients respect us and we can influence the debate. Our actions and words are noted. Set the example and frame the debate in a life affirming way.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Before PopeBenedict came to America to celebrate Mass in New York and Washington, it was revealed that as a young boy in Germany he had had a cousin with Down Syndrome. One day a Nazi doctor came and claimed his cousin for the Third Reich. Taken to be “cared for” at the “hospital” young Karl Ratzinger never saw his cousin again: one of the host of “useless eaters” marked for extermination by that brutal regime.
My wife and I operate St. Joseph’s House, a daycare and respite care home for handicapped children. As it happened one of the children we care for, a wheelchair bound young lady, was chosen along with three other handicapped folks to carry the gifts up to the altar before the consecration at the Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington D.C. on April 17, 2008. One of these was James, a 30ish man who works in the Officer’s Club at Andrews AFB. James has Down Syndrome. He was chosen to carry the large host which would become the Body of Christ lifted up before the assembled. As James with great ceremony advanced toward the Pope, his native enthusiasm overcame his reserve and he started to run. Simultaneously the Holy Father leapt from his chair and walked towards James with his arms outstretched. We have a picture of this moment which I cannot look at without tearing up. What did he see as he gazed so lovingly at James? I believe he saw his cousin. I believe he saw the face of Jesus. And I believe that his great prayer as he elevated that host on that impossibly beautiful day was “As long as you did to these the least of my brethren, you did it to Me.”
The next day April 18th, a boy was born to of all people, the Governor of Alaska. They named him Trig