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What If...

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Linda Roorda

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This story is very close to my heart for someone I dearly loved would not have lived among us if the recommended abortion had taken place. January is Sanctity of Human Life month, and today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. First designated as such in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, I think it extends to far more than the banner of the anti-abortion movement. It’s not a political issue, but one that affects our moral fiber. Sanctity of life issues reflect on each one of us because all life is sacred.

With the 51st anniversary of January 1973’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision, I again share the story of a mother-to-be who already had two healthy children, a girl and a boy. This time, she was very ill with her pregnancy. Vomiting frequently, she steadily grew worse. Struggling to carry this new little life, and against her wishes, her physician sought to obtain a “medically necessary” abortion. At that time, three doctors needed to sign documentation indicating the mother’s life was in jeopardy if the pregnancy continued. However, no third physician would put his name on the line to allow such an abortion.

A Cesarean section was performed at 7 months’ gestation or risk losing both mother and baby. To the surprise of all, twin boys were born! After surgery, the mom nearly died from the effects of toxemia (i.e. now called pre-eclampsia), the result of high blood pressure and the demands on her body by not one but two precious little ones.

With prayer and great medical care, she pulled through; but her little boys struggled. The largest twin at 5 lbs succumbed to an enlarged heart and died at two days of life, while the smallest little boy at 3-1/2 lbs was placed in an incubator for a month. This tiny preemie survived, albeit with health problems and very limited vision in only one viable eye.

How do I know? The littlest twin was my husband, Edward. His blindness was caused by the incubator's high oxygen content. But we all praise God that no third physician was willing to sign papers to permit an abortion which would have taken the lives of these precious boys.

Prior to1952, major medical centers knew that high levels of oxygen in incubators led to infant retinal damage and blindness. But physicians at the tiny hospital in Goshen, NY, a small farming community, were not aware of these findings. As a toddler, Ed was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. There, his parents were told he was among about 2000 children seen in their clinic, one of seven children who had some remnants of remaining vision! The optic nerve to his right eye was damaged, causing total blindness, while his left eye had limited vision, 20/200 with correction.

Ed got his first pair of glasses at age 2. Three years later, with a new pair of stronger lenses, he stared out the car watching the world go by. Suddenly, he shouted, “I see them!” Kids were sledding down a nearby hill; though blurry, it was something he’d never seen before. Whenever his mom told this story, it always brought tears to her eyes. That one sentence was worth every cent of his care, she’d say.

As Ed grew up, he was determined to do nearly everything everyone else could do. It drove him forward. Totally blind since 1998, we considered it a blessing he had limited vision for as long as he did. The renowned musician, Stevie Wonder, has the same condition. Then called retrolental fibroplasia (RLF), it is caused by high levels of oxygen in the incubator which contributes to abnormal blood vessel growth, damaging the retina. Now termed retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), it still affects a small percentage of premature infants.

Did you know that at about 22 days, the pre-born infant’s heart begins beating. By 12 weeks, she is about 2 inches long, fully formed and recognizably human, able to feel pain. By 14-16 weeks, fully formed, fingers and toes have fingerprints and nail; he sees and blinks, inhales and exhales amniotic fluid, kicks, sucks a thumb, and sleeps regularly. At full-term, 39 weeks, your baby is ready for life outside the nurturing womb. Even Ed's retired dermatologist, a devout Catholic, always wore the tiny "Precious Feet" pin on her lapel as a testament to her beliefs, pleased we knew what it meant. Look up the pin name online for a physician's story behind this pin.

Since Roe v. Wade was passed January 22, 1973 allowing for legal abortions in America, the numbers have been staggering with more than 63 million abortions. It must also be taken into account that some data is voluntarily reported while other American states have not provided details in a number of years, and I read there are many uncounted abortions. Yet with legal abortions available, the number of deaths from illegal abortions has declined.

For anyone who has aborted their baby for whatever reason, I pray she finds peace in the loving arms of God’s forgiveness. But my prayer also is that each precious little life be allowed to reach his or her full potential and life purpose, regardless of disabilities. The current discussions of “quality of life” and euthanasia go beyond a personal decision, with government or insurance companies’ input supposedly for the “good of society.”

There are many difficult questions on both sides of the aisle. But I’ve long pondered, if we care so much for those in the animal world, and carefully protect and preserve many other species from decimation, how much more precious is each and every human life – especially since we are made in the image of God? How can we destroy human life through abortion, i.e. murder in utero, simply because the pregnancy doesn’t fit our plans or the pre-born baby is “defective”? Do we expect abortion because some pre-born infants are imperfect, and will become a supposed burden to society? Do we justify abortion because some parents are unprepared to care for their children, abuse them, or kill them?

Even in our imperfect society, there is a viable alternative – adoption. However, with more stringent laws passed to prevent human trafficking, adoption has become an increasingly difficult option.

Anyone who has miscarried an unborn child understands the pain of loss. I miscarried our first little girl, Heather, at six months, with autopsy showing twins who did not separate properly, followed by a second miscarriage a year later. My cousin, Randy, intellectually challenged, grew up a kind and loving young man thanks to the love of his widowed mother. Despite his disabilities, he knew everything there was to know about his baseball team and the players!

My step-sister’s son, Cory, was born with DeGeorge syndrome due to a missing part of chromosome 22. Also having apraxia (an inability to perform certain purposeful actions due to brain damage) and diabetes, he developed cirrhosis a year before passing away Easter Sunday 2015. Like many with disabilities, Cory had an infectious joy for life and an unconditional love for everyone he came in contact with, thanks to his mother, Janet.

Life is sacred, and each pre-born child is a unique gift from God just waiting for us to open our arms and heart to this new little life.

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As David wrote in Psalm 139:13-16: “…you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

What If…

by Linda A. Roorda

What if…

There was no God?

Would we know how to love

Or, would hate rule our lives?

Would we each decide

What rules to live by

Changing like the wind

As our wants wrest control?

~

Would we violate

The sanctity of life

Simply because

Life would not matter

Except for the worth

We each determine

How best we can serve

Our selfish ambition?

~

And yet, what if…

Each life among us

Was somehow meant

To open the eyes

Of our heart and soul

To a higher purpose

To show the value

Inherent within

No matter the wrapping?

~

And what if…

We move toward each other

And then extend

Our outstretched hands?

Would that not show

Great caring and love

From within the depths

Of a heart overflowing?

~

For is that not like

The hands of One

Extended outward

Nailed upon a beam

To show us how

We too should love

And sacrifice self

Our gift to each other?

~

Because… what if…

There is a God

Who really cares

And Who truly loves

Each for who we are

For His life was a gift

That we would know

Just how we should love?

~~

Linda writes from her home in Spencer. 

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