A friend from a special needs online community posted a link this morning referencing statements made by a politician in Virginia. Bear in mind, the specific comments were made nearly 2 years ago, although I doubt his opinion has changed much. The premise was that he believes that if a woman has an abortion, subsequent children born of that woman will have disabilities.
“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” states Bob Marshall, a delegate to the State Senate of Virginia.
I think my response to my friend was that he is a total, delusional jackass.
I could go on and on about why this particular person is an affront to conservative politics and Christians, but I don't want to focus on that. What really gets my blood boiling is the fact that he implies that a child born with "handicaps" is somehow a punishment for having an abortion. Even if his statistics about that are true (I have no idea if they are), it is his prevailing attitude that bothers me.
In the subsequent damage control article/video, he goes on to say, “I never mention God punishing women,” Marshall told us. “I talked about ‘nature’s vengence’ and I regret those terms. I should have said ‘natural consequences.’ It’s just like somebody who drinks alcohol to excess and gets a liver problem. You can’t blame God for that. You did it to yourself.”
Bob, that doesn't make it better. To imply that 1) disabled children are not a blessing, but rather a punishment or "nature's vengeance" and 2) if a mother made better choices, she could avoid this punishment is brutally offensive. I never had an abortion, but I have a child with special needs (the term I prefer over "disabilities" although that is an accurate term, too). So, for what I am being punished, Bob? Bob, you are an idiot - which is a nice way of saying "total, delusional jackass."
It is not easy having a child with special needs. It does not matter if the needs are severe or mild; it does not matter if it is physical, neurological, psychological. The fact remains that it is not easy, it is not the road that any parent prepares for or expects. It is challenging, difficult, sometimes depressing, exhausting, and occasionally, defeating. Some might see that as punishment or a curse.
But having an extra-special child is to know someone inspiring, insightful, and honest. It is learning things you never dreamed of learning and finding that you are capable of more than you thought. It is slowing down to appreciate the small achievements and milestones in a world that measures success only by your personal statistics - SAT scores, job title, income, number of activities your child is involved in. It is marveling at the fact that your child works a zillion times harder to master things than you ever did, and remembering that overcoming obstacles is a daily endeavor, not an occasional bump in the road.
Having an extra-special child is a blessing. Bob, God knew what He was doing when he gave you children without disabilities. He wasn't rewarding you for all your so-called perfect choices. He knew you would not be up to the challenge and would be incapable of appreciating the blessing of a special needs child. Thank you, Bob, for the reminder that I really am up to the task because it never, ever would have crossed my mind to think I was somehow being punished. I might question whether or not I can handle all of this on some days, but I know that my daughters - both of them, extra-special and not - are joyous blessings in my life. I may be challenged, but I am not being punished. I still don't know what I'd be punished for anyway. I didn't choose this road, Bob, it was given to me with the confidence that I could handle it. I can, I will, and my life will be all the richer for it. I might even have learned something of value that could be passed along to another, to provide some help or guidance based on experience. I'm lucky! I am a much better, more compassionate, more patient, more educated person than I would have been if I hadn't been "punished" in this way.
***I am not interested in a discussion of politics or religion. That is not the purpose of my blog entry today. It is simply the example given to me that spurred the rest of my thoughts.***