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The price of life

Sarah Palin, the US Republican candidate for Vice-President, has been all over the news for the last few weeks. One aspect about her that perhaps hasn’t hit the news here is that her 4-month-old son Trig has Down’s Syndrome.

In the US, 90% of the cases of Down syndrome diagnosed by prenatal testing each year are eliminated by abortion. When Sarah Palin found herself bearing a child with Down syndrome she decided to carry the pregnancy through. She celebrates him as “absolutely perfect” in the family's eyes, writing, “Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world… Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome.”

With that in mind it is somewhat saddening to read of André Lalonde, the executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, who is reported as being concerned that “Ms. Palin’s widely discussed decision to keep her baby, knowing he would be born with the condition, may inadvertently influence other women who may lack the necessary emotional and financial support to do the same.”

Now we’re not talking cars here—as if the issue was, “Well we used to have a 4x4 Landrover but we didn’t have the necessary financial support to keep it, so we got rid of it.” This is a human being. And the governing factor apparently should be the parents financial or emotional situation before the little bundle pops out of the womb. What happens if their financial or emotional circumstances change after the said bundle arrives? Can you just get rid of them and say, “Well we simply didn’t have the necessary emotional or financial resources”?

In a sad irony yesterday’s news also reported that a Thomas Vander Woude died rescuing his 20-year-old Down Syndrome son from a sceptic tank. Jospeh had fallen in and his father rushed to the tank to get him out. At some point Vander Woude jumped in, submerging himself in sewage so he could push his son up from below and keep his head above the muck.

When rescue workers arrived, Thomas, who had been in the tank for 15 to 20 minutes, was unconscious. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

The newspaper rightly praised him for his heroism and self-sacrifice. But the world we live in would just have as easily consigned his son to a waste bin before he had even the chance to be born. Yet we know instinctively that this father was right.

Our problem is that we have cut our minds off from our moral anchor in God, but our hearts still have a tenuous attachment. And so we live like ping-pong balls batted around by conflicting and inconsistent values. We’ve lost our anchor, yet something deep within knows that there is a right and wrong.

And we will continue to applaud men and women like Thomas Vander Woude and Sarah Palin for their values and their sacrifice because deep down we know it’s right.

The answer is not to bravely forge ahead with where our doomed morality is taking us, but to step back to the security of God’s standards.

And there perhaps we’ll see the greatest irony of all. We are not the perfect beings we like to think we are, in fact we are more like those our world would destroy—born damaged, and inclined to jump into the sewage of life. Yet God doesn’t abort us, instead he came and got into the excrement with us and offers to lift us out. And in doing so, the Son of God gave his own life that we might live.

That’s the price of life—eternal life. And for those in the mess, or aware of their need of help, that’s where they need to turn—to the true hero who was willing to die so that we might live.