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A disability should not be a death sentence, whether someone is at the dawn or twilight of life

by | Jan 26, 2018

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

One of the pivotal events in my life occurred when I was in college, and a drunken driver demolished my parents’ car.

My mother and father could have been killed, since the impact of the collision sent their car crashing into a utility pole.

My father was shell-shocked, while my mother sustained multiple injuries which caused her to be hospitalized. Thankfully, my parents survived.

The most serious of mother’s injuries was a broken pelvis. Because of this, after being released from the hospital, she had to use a wheelchair for a period of time.

As a result, I began viewing my neighborhood and my world through different eyes–the eyes of someone with a disability. Accessibility issues redefined where my mother spent most of her time, where we attended church, and how household duties were accomplished.

I saw physical barriers that I had never noticed before–and I understood the righteous anger which occurs when an able-bodied person parks in a space reserved for people with disabilities.

At no time, though, did I consider my mother’s life to be worth any less than before the accident. My admiration for her only grew.

And this may be part of the reason I am mystified by those Pennsylvania lawmakers who claim they voted against a ban on brutal dismemberment abortions because it contained no exception for “fetal abnormality”–just a fancy phrase for a baby with a disability.

Let’s be clear–the Pennsylvania House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for Senate Bill 3. It would be law now were it not for the cold-hearted veto of Governor Tom Wolf.

But I have heard of a number of constituents who, when asked why their lawmaker voted in the minority, say their legislator used the fetal “defect” excuse.

I find this discrimination against babies with disabilities appalling. They have no less worth than babies without handicaps. Given the miracles of modern technology and educational opportunity, there is no telling what these children can accomplish. Not to mention the fact that dire diagnoses don’t always come to pass.

It is important that parents who have been given a poor prenatal diagnosis receive accurate information, sufficient resources, and emotional and physical support. If any of that kind of assistance is lacking, it needs to be addressed.

But it is unconscionable to punish a baby for having a disability. Some people are born with disabilities; others develop them in the course of life. Any one of us is just a car crash away from becoming disabled.

Surely, a disability should not be a death sentence, whether someone is at the dawn or twilight of life.