I was prompted some months ago, by this post on Gerard Nadal's excellent blog, to consider putting some of my own experiences as a mother of three handicapped children out there, in the blogosphere. What held me back? Not sure if I have a complete answer, but there was a desire to protect my family's privacy and a feeling that perhaps this aspect of my daily life was so ordinary, so day-to-day normal and natural as to render it un-newsworthy.
When I read Gerard's piece, there was one sentence which struck. In all the many words that are spoken about handicapped children, pro-life or pro-death, I have never heard any one else say :
“If God has a set number of handicapped children who need to enter the world, then He can send one our way.”
I was about thirteen, a schoolgirl, when I first understood the meaning of the word 'abortion'. It was discussed in the cloakrooms and on the netball courts at school, the consensus among my then third year (now it would be year 9) peers being that abortion was repugnant as it involved killing unborn babies.
Gradually I came to understand how handicapped babies were particularly at risk of abortion, targetted for no other reason than that they were handicapped.
I didn't know any handicapped people, but I knew of them; the brother of one of the girls in my class had Down's Syndrome, the severely disabled brother of another lived, not at home, but in a special home, and before that, I could recall a boy at primary school who wore calipers to both legs. I knew that handicapped people often needed more help than non- handicapped people. They were more vulnerable.
It seemed to me that aborting babies because they had handicaps or disabilities, must be utterly wrong; surely the most vulnerable of all required the greatest protection and help?
Without knowing anything about the reasons women give for having an abortion, it was at least clear to me then, that killing the weakest and most vulnerable did not solve the problems they face.
I prayed about it, and this was my prayer:
If You are going to send any more handicapped people into the world, when the time comes, send one to me. I will look after him/her and I won't abort him/her.
As good Catholics know, God always answers prayers!