This morning at Mass, we heard the readings for the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn. My pastor used the optional reading: Matthew 18:1-5, 10-14.
In his homily, he spoke about our desire for physical perfection: how people spend billions of dollars and devote countless hours to the pursuit of physical beauty.
Father then mentioned that people’s desire for physical perfection has extended toward their own children, that he has encountered many women who confided that they were advised that their unborn child might have some imperfection, based on a prenatal test, and that they resisted the doctor’s gentle (or not-so-gentle) suggestion to abort their child — only to have their child born perfectly healthy. How many others were there, he wondered, that had not approached him (or his fellow priests) to discuss this? How many others took their doctor’s advice at face value?
How many children were sacrificed on the altar of perfection on the basis of an inaccurate prenatal test?
A friend of mine had that test and received that unwelcome news that something might be wrong with her child. She spent the rest of her pregnancy agonizing, wondering if her child would be ok. Today, that child is a young teenager, a leader in her school, a hard worker, an honor student, and a talented baker. Who knows what else she’ll be capable of as she grows up and explores her interests?
I didn’t hear the rest of the homily, because I started wondering what would happen if prenatal tests were developed that could pinpoint conditions that were not congenital, but ones toward which an unborn child were genetically predisposed.
What if there had been a test that would have told me that my youngest child would develop Type 1 Diabetes sometime during his childhood?
It wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker for me. But for someone who has been conditioned to expect perfection at any price, it might be.
I know how my life has been changed because TheKid is in it, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world (much as I may rant about his legendary talent for missing the school bus).
What if there had been a test?
He’s still my child. Taller than me, but still my child. Not perfect by any means (diabetes or no diabetes), but still my child.
If I had known, what would I have done different? Not too much, but there would have been a whole lot more worrying.
I was considered “advanced maternal age” when I was pregnant with TheKid, and I refused all testing for anything that couldn’t be fixed before birth (at that time, that means I agreed to an ultrasound to rule out spina bifida and a blood-glucose test to rule out gestational diabetes).
Sometimes it’s better not to know.
… and whoever received one child such as this in my name receives me (Matthew 18:5)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz