Jul 082013 51 Responses

An Open Letter to the USA Today Editorial Board

My daughter’s life is not a life of suffering. She is not a burden to me or her family. Her life is not a disappointment.

Last week, you presented your opinion in the editorial 20 Week Abortion Ban Too Soon: Our View. In it, you discussed that many couples are informed about a diagnosis of Down syndrome at 16–18 weeks which would force them to make “heartrending decisions against a ticking clock.” It presented abortion as a logical choice for many expectant parents.

While the decision to abort a child with Down syndrome might be heartrending, let’s say what else it is:

Aborting a child with DS is selfish. It is the belief that the child will be a burden which will disrupt our lives. It puts our hopes, dreams and expectations above the needs of a child. It is the epitome of putting self above all others. Parenting is about giving ourselves for the well-being of our children. We give our time, energy, and resources so they might flourish. Aborting a child with DS is never good for the child. It is never an act of mercy. It is never in the child’s best interest. It is always an action of selfishness because of what might have to be endured.

Aborting a child with DS is ignorant. It is a sign of ignorance regarding what it is like to raise a child with DS. While raising a special needs child clearly has its challenges, it is not an extreme burden. Show me a family with a child with DS who wishes the child was not born. Show me a family with a child of DS who would say that child is a detriment to family. If you think a child with DS hurts a family, read Here or Here or Here.

Aborting a child with DS is shameful. I know the decision is not taken lightly by most people. I understand that it can be “heartrending,” but it is also shameful. To destroy a human life because of a diagnosis like DS is tragic. For a doctor, it goes against the Hippocratic oath—it does harm. For a parent, it violates the basic premise of parenthood—protect the well-being of our child. As a human, it violates our conscience—the innocent shouldn’t suffer. We need to be compassionate to those who make bad decisions, but we also need to call their actions what they are. Aborting a child with DS is shameful.

Aborting a child with DS is bad for society. Couples often think what a child will demand from them, but what they forget is what a special needs child will do for them and for society. If we found a cure for Down syndrome I would celebrate it, but I would also worry about a world without children and adults with Down syndrome. They teach us so much. They reveal our brokenness. They call us to love. They remind us what is important. If we ended DS through a cure, that would be one thing, but we are on the brink of ending DS not because of a cure but because of abortion. This is frightening. It will hurt more than those with DS, it will hurt society. We need these children and adults. We extinguish them at our own peril.

To the Editorial Board of the USA Today, I ask you to rethink your opinion. Interview individuals with DS and see if you think their lives are important. Study families with members who have DS and see if their lives have been hindered. Consider the lessons which can only be learned from people with DS and imagine a society which doesn’t know those lessons.

My daughter is not a burden. Her life is not second-class. My family has not been hurt by her presence.

My life, my family, and my community are better because of her.

Blessings,

Kevin

51 Responses to An Open Letter to the USA Today Editorial Board
  1. Julie O'Bryant Reply

    Oh, KT…straight from God’s heart to your heart to the paper. May these words find their target and be a powerful convicting force for change in our thoughts and thus, our actions. And, less spiritually, but equally truthfully: “Dang, son…you can write.” Miss you and our CBC family.

  2. Jim Reply

    Well said. Smallest ear canals I have ever had the honor of working on. How’s her hearing?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Not bad. We go next week for a checkup. I’ll let you know what he says but the last set of tubes are doing well.

  3. Becky Denton Reply

    Great article. Well written. I hope those who read this will really think twice about what they write before the publish garbage which has no foundation. Thank you Kevin for sharing your angel and how much she is a vital part of this society.

  4. Marji Reply

    As the Mom of a precious 17 year-old blessing with DS, I couldn’t agree more! She has truly taught our family more about…well…everything than we could have learned in any other way. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Andrea Roberts Reply

    Tell it like it is! Folks at Reece’s Rainbow appreciate you!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thank you Andrea for your comment, the link, and the great work you do. You’ve got some friends in Arkansas.

  6. Shelley Hewett Reply

    Amen!

  7. Stephanie Lynch Reply

    Awesome article…and what makes it better is that you are from Arkansas!!! Our family has 2 little girls with DS (one biological (4) and one adopted from Russia (6) )….I saw your post via Andrea Roberts with Reece’s Rainbow, which is where we found our little girl!! We live in the big city of De Queen, Ar. Glad I found your blog and thank you for advocating for our children. P.S. I was told by Boston Children’s Hospital when I was pregnant with our daughter (also born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome) regarding abortion that “we should decide what is best for our family.” “Best” meaning what would be less of a burden for us…fits right in with point number 1. Aborting a child with DS is selfish.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Stephanie, Great to hear from a fellow Arkansan. I’m wowed by the work of Reece’s Rainbow and am thankful you have been blessed by them.

    • Edie Copeland Wray Reply

      Stephanie- I might be intruding here, but my childhood friend Chad Gallagher lives there in DeQueen. (I believe he was mayor there at one time). Our daughter that I am currently 28 weeks pregnant with has been diagnosed with HLHS. (She is our sixth child) We have a complete anatomy scan scheduled for this Thur. and are fervently praying that no other anomalies are found. We have had no genetic testing or amnio done as it would not have changed anything for us -we would never have considered abortion for any diagnosis. We just want to know what immediate intervention she will need at birth. We are very thankful that we live relatively close to Texas Children’s Hospital and they are #3 for cardiac treatment in the US. We have a page on Facebook “Praying for Baby Lenah” and a simple blog at http://www.wraymomma.blogspot.com if you’d like to stop by. We would love to hear any advice from another HLHS mom.

  8. Amy Reply

    My first visit here and I’m so glad to find you! My daughter, who is now 18 y.o., has never been a burden. She blesses so many people along the way – friends and strangers alike. I live my life trying to be more like her!

  9. Eileen Reply

    Thank you, Kevin! My thoughts exactly! Thank you for taking the time to express how so many parents of children with Down syndrome feel!

  10. Sharon Reply

    Lovely article. Pleasure to read about your child and the joy she has brought to your life. My sibling has DS. society is definitely better with special needs citizens.

  11. WhatisHappening Reply

    Abortion is Racism.

  12. Diane Reply

    Good for you Kevin, perfect letter! In 12 years I haven’t come across anyone who wishes the person/people in their lives with DS had never been born. I think I’d give them a wide berth if I came across someone that did though 🙂

  13. EJ Reply

    We received a prenatal diagnosis, and were repeatedly pressured to terminate. We felt we had to fight during our pregnancy for the life of our son. His life was not valued or appreciated in any way. In the heartbreak of our lives, our son Max died when he was 16 days old. He brought such joy and happiness to our lives and changed us forever, and touched the lives of many others too. Was it worth it? Yes. I would do it again in a heartbeat. He is my first thought every morning, and my last one every night.

  14. Linda Reply

    What an amazingly beautiful article! I work with DS children and cannot tell you how much I enjoy it. They are the most lovable, adorable children in the world. You are blessed my friend that God chose to give you one of his special babies, he really knew what he was doing. Your daughter is also blessed to have you. On another note. My granddaughter was diagnosed with fatal complications while still in the womb. Her parents were told to abort, they chose life. So instead of being thrown away like garbage, my granddaughter got to be held. She was born 2 months early and lived for only 15 minutes. In those 15 minutes she was a daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin and a niece. No one better ever tell me she was a nobody. Yes, we knew she would die, but at least she got to be held and loved, even if it was for only 15 minutes. She mattered! God bless you and your family, Kevin!!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Every minute of every life matters. Thank you Linda for reminding us of that.

  15. wayne Reply

    abortion is a killing and you shall not kill,i think doctors need to sit down with there bible and read it and then they will probably rethink asking a parent about abortion. thats just my opinion”

    • Bob Reply

      The problem with advising abortion docs to read the bible is they probably consider the Author an inferior competitor.

  16. jennsheranJennifer Reply

    Kevin, Right on man! I couldn’t agree more. My little guy is just pure sunshine to my soul! The world would be worse off without him!

  17. Hazel Brown-Barnes Reply

    Kevin I am amazed at your wisdom and encouraging words for sweet Ella! Our God is so good! To know how your words can make such an impact on another family just needing a positive message from our Lord is immeasurable! Keep casting Gods word on the water! What a rippling effect!! Blessings!

  18. Patricia Fackina Cormack Reply

    well put! My beautiful precious amazing daughter with Down syndrome has changed my life for the better in countless ways! May all know this joy!

  19. Jessica Harvey Reply

    I have a 20 month old daughter who has down syndrome and epilepsy. She has a type of catastrophic seizures known as infantile spasms. Because of the seizures (not the extra chromosome), she cannot sit, eat by mouth, walk, talk, or use her hands. She has had to fight so hard during her short life. but she does it like a champ! Because of her, I am a stronger person. I have so much more patience and tolerance. When my husband looks at her, I can just see his heart melt. Her sisters love her to pieces. They are always petting her and kissing her. We have so many new friends because of her. We have an AMAZING support system. Everyone who meets her falls in love with her instantly. She has recently stated to smile and laugh out loud. That smile is the best gift that I have ever received! Sometimes, I feel as if my heart might explode with the love that I have for her. Not once have I ever wished that I would have aborted her. I can’t imagine not having her here. No matter what, the good always outweighs the bad. I am blessed to have her,and I’m a better person because of her.

  20. margie Reply

    Kevin thank you from a Mom to a beautiful little boy (#5) w Down syndrome for the profound words of truth, clarity and love. My husband and I are moved beyond words to be in our son’s beautiful, gentile company…a true gift. As I recognized immediately upon learning of DS at 11 weeks gestation, the limitations I was about to be confronted with were my own..
    I attempted to respond with a comment and certainly not in the capacity that your words have the potential to convey but at some point the topic forces one to do so….My post follows…”It would seem the screening process for the editor’s at USA Today needs to be addressed. Ironically it is those without knowledge or life experience that claim to “know” or deem it is reasonable to abort a human life with Down syndrome. While those with a child or loved one with DS (therefore knowledge and experience) profess from the mountain top of the love and joy. Who can predetermine the worthiness of any life that is not yet lived, or denied the opportunity to live? Was any one of us promised a life without difficulty, or an easy path? Perhaps in striving to filter out what makes life difficult what is also filtered out is “life” in all of it’s complexities and stunning revelation of true beauty.”

  21. Lee Hollingshed (aka Mrs. Armstrong) Reply

    I am a retired special ed teacher, and to think of what I would have missed if my 4 student’s moms had aborted them, just kills me!! Thank you, Kevin, for that wonderful article. DS is not a terrible thing-it is terrible how people who consider themselves “normal” have no clue as to how much of a blessing a person with DS can be!!

  22. Sholom Gootzeit Reply

    Dear Kevin, if you go to YouTube, under my name, you can see 4 videos I posted of my dad’s work. He was a physical therapist, he was a wounded vet, he lived in a VA hospital for a year, and as he went through rehabilitation, he found his life’s calling which was to work with children with severe impairments. To enable him to reach these children the way he wanted to, he used siblings of the handicapped children, Boy and Girl Scouts, high school and college students to do the work he directed. I became a physician, twelve or fifteen of us became physical therapists, several social workers, many teachers, in all working with those severely handicapped children, helped all of us to overcome our fears of the differences, and aimed us vocationally at helping professions. These children are a gift. My own understanding of the rehabilitation medicine that I do, is directly related to my volunteer work as a teenager, and all the long talks I had with my dad. Abortion is not an answer, the answer is finding ways to allow highschool and college kids to provide more face time for these children, it helps humanize the handicapped, and it helps to focus the helpers in ways you cannot even begin to imagine.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thanks for the response. What a great story. I’ll look at the You Tube video.

  23. Edie Copeland Wray Reply

    Kevin,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. Beautifully done.

  24. Heidi Thorpe Reply

    Great article, thank you. Our son with DS is 16 years old and draws people to him like a magnet. Has raising him been challenging? You bet! Just like raising his older sister who does NOT have DS has been challenging. Life is challenging. He makes me laugh everyday. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  25. Schreiber Tribe Reply

    Talk about a “Beautiful Mind” ~ you, the parents of DS children, have BEAUTIFUL HEARTS! I am blessed by your comments! Calling abortion for the atrocity that it is, is noble! ALL Life, given by God and God alone, DOES MATTER!! Thank you!!

  26. Lee Reply

    Abortion is murder

  27. Meri Reply

    Thank you for your commentary. It’s about time people stood up to say what you have said, not only for DS kids, but for every special needs or “different” child.

  28. Katy Harms Reply

    Well said! Our daughter with DS is 13 and our lives are all richer because of her. The kids in her class at church have learned tolerance, patience and unselfishness. No, it isn’t always easy raising a child with special needs but our family has learned so much through it and we are better for it.

  29. Debra Reply

    I’m truly moved by your words,as I am by all the testimonials I have read. If only these (some unwittingly) selfish parents- to- be would realize that love of a child, for a child comes from the same heart God gives everyone. I love my children and would lay down my life for them just as quickly as any other parent. Whether that child has DS, or any other disorder .
    God Bless you all!

  30. Amanda Reply

    I have to confess I have not been around children with DS, however I have been around some adults with DS. They are the most committed workers I have ever seen, They find such joy in what wew would call the simple things. If I am upset I cant stay that way for long because when they look at me with that beautiful and perfect smile, I cant help but smile. Their innocence and love and joy is truly a gift from God. I cant imagine a world without that joy.

  31. Aubrey Reply

    My mom was 40 when she had me and simple refused to have tests done to see if I had DS. My parents have told me they told that doctor many “we got pregnant to have a baby and we are having a baby!” I am now 27 and working hard to make them proud every day! That doctor could not have foreseen that I would cost them so much money in Private school and then get hit by a drunk driver junior year of college and lose all of my scholarships to my fancy $45,000 a year school!!! He couldn’t have told them that when they paid for me to finish that fancy degree my new disabilities would make me impossible to hire in my chosen field! Everyday I feel like a burden to my amazing loving parents! Everyday my wonderful Mama reminds me of what my Nana used to tell us all the time “EVERY life has a purpose! Even when God doesn’t share his plan with you.” At the end I cry she tells me she loves me and wouldn’t trade me for all the world and tells me to get back to studying because oh yea did I mention that now I’m going back to school to work with kids with special needs! God has a funny way of making it all work out because the year I spent working as a Nanny for a child with DS taught me more than all my years of schooling combined!!!!!

  32. Angie Reply

    My brother with Down Syndrome is the central member of our family. My mother says our family was blessed with a living saint!

  33. EAJ Reply

    You know what’s selfish? Trying to force other people down a certain pathway just because it was right for you. You love your DS daughter, and that’s great. You can cope with her condition, and that’s great too. Other families do not have the same circumstances that you do. You know what it’s like to be parent to one particular DS child. You have no idea what it is like to be any one of the thousands of other parents facing a pre-natal diagnosis of DS, or indeed what it is like to be parent to a DS child other than your daughter. Do not pretend that you speak for families whose circumstances could be completely different from your own.

    You know what’s shameful? Telling a woman that her wishes are so unimportant that she is going to be used as an incubator for a child she doesn’t want. That goes for any pregnancy, not just DS ones.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      EAJ, I think the phrase “she doesn’t want” is at the heart of the matter. In my opinion, the personal preferences of one individual should not be allowed to harm another individual. I assume you don’t believe life begins in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. That is your preference. I believe it does and I think science is on my side.

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