By Judie Brown
In the wake of the president’s coronavirus diagnosis and the systemic hatred seeping from social media these days, we found it rather ironic that the death peddlers are taking aim at the president in a different way.
Trump recently signed an executive order regarding protection for babies born alive after abortion, as well as other at-risk newborns. The order states: “Every infant born alive, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, has the same dignity and the same rights as every other individual and is entitled to the same protections under Federal law. . . . Despite these laws, some hospitals refuse the required medical screening examination and stabilizing treatment or otherwise do not provide potentially lifesaving medical treatment to extremely premature or disabled infants, even when parents plead for such treatment.”
In addition, it reiterates: “It is the policy of the United States to recognize the human dignity and inherent worth of every newborn or other infant child, regardless of prematurity or disability, and to ensure for each child due protection under the law.”
The Department of Health and Human Services received the executive order and affirmed it. So far, so good.
But just as the media jumped on the president’s diagnosis, predicting gloom and doom, so too the proponents of denial of care for babies born with challenges—some of whom could live for many years—decried the executive order for all the wrong reasons.
Some argued it was cruel, while others such as Jacqueline Ayers, a Planned Parenthood Action Fund vice president, said it was unnecessary.
But the worst statements by far came from those involved in palliative care for distressed newborns. These people expressed concern over whether or not palliative care would be denied for these babies who, in their opinion, are doomed anyway. We are told: “Means of promoting thoughtful care for life-limiting conditions diagnosed either prenatally or in the minutes, hours, days, or weeks after birth have allowed for better pain assessment and management, family-centered care, and much needed time for bereavement.”
But some physicians, like neonatal specialist Paul Byrne, tell us that
even when the unborn baby is accurately diagnosed as having a life limiting or lethal disease, God can heal. Yes the healing that Jesus did, and those who heal in the name of Jesus, do so based on faith in the supernatural power of the Creator. God can always heal. We have faith in the healing power of God. We have hope that God will heal; we love the baby as much and as far as we can in the way that God loves each of us. We must not do harm to the baby, shorten the baby’s life or hasten the baby’s death.
Contrasting these two views—affirming life versus expecting death—exposes a lot more about our culture than simply how to lovingly care for a distressed newborn. Such divergent approaches reflect the reality of two distinct world views: respect versus disdain.
In an e-mail to me, attorney Sara Buscher said it best:
Remember when Gov. Ralph Northam said a baby born alive after an abortion would be kept comfortable and not resuscitated. Then, the doctor would discuss withholding life sustaining treatment (i.e., food and liquids) from the baby with its parents. Recall the outrage? Everyone recognized this was infanticide. Well, Gov. Ralph Northam is a pediatrician who spent 19 years as a children’s’ hospice medical director. No wonder he did not realize how inflammatory his remarks were. If it is wrong for a baby, it is wrong for a child, a disabled adult, and an older adult.
Pediatric palliative care aligns with infanticide and discriminatory abortions by supporting parental decisions to “let go” of their disabled newborns.
So once again society is left with two choices.
Shall we choose listening to those who believe that imposed death is best, or shall we believe those who realize and respect the vulnerable life of someone who may well die but only in God’s time?
Whether it is an ailing leader of the free world or a suffering infant, respect for life does not embrace exceptions. Malevolence is never a morally sane option.