A Bad Mother?


I can’t get last week’s interview with Ayelet Waldman on Fresh Air out of my head. As the mother of two healthy children, I shouldn’t be able to identify with a mother who chose to terminate a pregnancy that had some bad test results. But I do. My heart BROKE for Waldman as she described her experience, as she choked back tears and apologized for doing so. I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to make that choice — I don’t know what I would have done in her position. It’s easy to say what you would or wouldn’t do in that situation without having been there. I do know that if something were to happen to one of my children (knocking on all of the wood in the house right now), I would still love them as ferociously and enduringly as I do right now, and I would do everything I possibly could to ensure that they have a rich and happy life.

But let’s consider the ramifications of carrying to term a potentially disabled/mentally retarded/special needs child:
Yes, it ends a potential life,
– but would it be fair to the two children already in the family to essentially lose their parents to a much higher-needs child?
– and would it be fair to the child to bring him into the world fully knowing that he would suffer? isn’t it more cruel to knowingly bring a broken child into the world? Then again, who are we to say that a special-needs child’s life would be any less rich or rewarding?
– is it best for the structural integrity of the entire family to bring the stress of a special-needs child into the mix? Being a family is stressful enough — dare a couple risk breaking up their family by adding that degree of stress that a special needs child would bring?
– at the end of the day, isn’t the decision made in the interest of the greater good of the family, of the LIVING, EXISTING children that have already been born and the loving parents who aren’t sure they’re strong enough to take on a sick child?
– and isn’t it disingenuous to accuse someone who made this terrible decision of considering special needs children as disposable? Or to hold every family to the same rubric upon which to make their decision?

Mostly I’m playing devil’s advocate here, because at the end of the day (<— apologies for the cliche), what Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon chose to do in the best interest of their family is none of my business. It just really chaps my ass when people whom I think are cruel in the name of Jesus think it’s their duty to condemn others’ decisions and value systems. Then again, that’s the American way, isn’t it?

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