Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Trig's Breakthrough"

An absolutely beautiful article by Michael Gerson in The Washington Post, on another (unsung) barrier broken in the 2008 Election:

In addition to Barack Obama making history as the first African American to be nominated for president and Sarah Palin taking her shotgun to the glass ceiling, there was a third civil rights barrier broken at the political conventions this year.

Trig Paxson Van Palin -- pronounced by his mother "beautiful" and "perfect" and applauded at center stage of the Republican convention -- smashed the chromosomal barrier. And it was all the more moving for the innocence and indifference of this 4-month-old civil rights leader.
It was not always this way. John F. Kennedy's younger sister Rosemary, who was born in 1918, had a mental disability that was treated as a family secret. For decades Rosemary was hidden as a "childhood victim of spinal meningitis." Joseph Kennedy subjected his daughter to a destructive lobotomy when she was 23. It was the remarkable Eunice Kennedy Shriver who talked openly of her sister's condition in 1962 and went on to found the Special Olympics as a summer camp in her back yard -- part of a great social movement of compassion and inclusion.

Trig's moment in the spotlight is a milestone of that movement. But it comes at a paradoxical time. Unlike what is accorded African Americans and women, civil rights protections for people with Down syndrome have rapidly eroded over the past few decades. Of the cases of Down syndrome diagnosed by prenatal testing each year, about 90 percent are eliminated by abortion. Last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended universal, early testing for Down syndrome -- not just for older pregnant women. Some expect this increased screening to reduce the number of Down syndrome births to something far lower than the 5,500 we see today, perhaps to fewer than 1,000.

It's definitely worth a click over to read the entire thing. As the younger sister of a beloved brother who shares Trig's characteristics, I am deeply disturbed by the medical profession. It wasn't until this 2008 campaign that I even became aware that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted, or that doctors encourage such atrocities by focusing exclusively on the hardships of raising a Down's child, with no consideration of its unique joys and blessings.

Here I thought we'd come such a long way since 1959, the year of Ralph's birth. I speak for all of my siblings when I say that growing up with him has shaped our character and buoyed our faith in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. And I know my parents share the same sentiment -- he's enriched all of our lives and made us better human beings in the process. Thanks to Ralph, we've developed a genuine appreciation for the simple things and a palpable understanding of unconditional love. That so many unborn innocents, deemed "unacceptable" by the medical establishment, will never have the chance to sprinkle their unique and uplifting brand of magic in the world is an absolute disgrace -- and a blight on this great nation.

So yeah, this little four-month-old angel called Trig is shaking up this year's race for the White House, and in a larger sense, challenging the Left's definition of "compassion" and "hope." May God continue to bless him and all special-needs children even as He enlightens the hearts and minds of those who have dedicated themselves to the "healing" profession.

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