I have written only a handful of columns that required fighting back the tears. This is one of them.
I got a call last Thursday from a colleague-in-arms asking me for help. He wanted me to write the story I am about to tell because it has been buried by a conspiratorial level of silence rooted in political and media bias.
This is the story about an incredibly loving young girl named Christin. A very active high-school graduate and a beloved member of her softball team and community, she was sweet beyond the norm as so often is the case for children with her diagnosis. She had Down syndrome. (I have heard it said, anecdotally, the extra chromosome which characterizes Trisomy 21, encodes for love. For those of you blessed enough to know anyone with Down syndrome, you will likely agree.)
There is simply something about these gifted children that reminds us all about what really matters in life no matter how busy and how complicated our lives appear. Sen. Brownback, R-Kan., made just that point last week on the third day of hearings on the nomination of Judge Roberts.
He spoke on the effects of Roe vs. Wade and on children diagnosed with a disability while still in the womb. Specifically, the records show that 80-90 percent of all children diagnosed with DS are killed. One tragedy to this statistic beyond the obvious taking of life is that waiting lists of people exist to adopt these children. These deaths are a great loss not only to the mother and family, but society as a whole. By way of example, Sen. Brownback spoke of a young man named Jimmy diagnosed with DS who operates an elevator in the Senate building.
His warm smile welcomes us every day. We’re a better body for him. He told me the other day – he frequently gives me a hug in the elevator afterwards. I know he does Sen. Hatch often, too, who kindly gives him ties, some of which I question the taste of, Orrin …
… but he kindly gives ties.
HATCH: It doesn’t have to get personal …
BROWNBACK: And Jimmy said to me the other day after he hugged me; he said Shhh, don’t tell my supervisor. They’re telling me I’m hugging too many people.
BROWNBACK: And, yet, we’re ennobled by him and what he does and how he lifts up our humanity and 80 to 90 percent of the kids in this country like Jimmy never get here.
What does that do to us? What does that say about us?
That means Jimmy and Christin were lucky exceptions to the general rule and trend to kill the unborn diagnosed with a disability. Sadly, Chrisitin’s luck unexpectedly ran out this past year when she was not only sexually assaulted in January of this year, but remarkably became pregnant. No one seems sure of the occurrence that young women diagnosed with DS become pregnant. According to the experts I consulted, the numbers are likely too rare for an official count. One thing is sure, of those becoming pregnant, complications are likely to exist.
Somewhat surprisingly, she returned to the clinic the next day, the abortion procedure was completed and she was once again told to return to her hotel room. Immediately her condition began to deteriorate. When she returned to the clinic, her symptoms were misdiagnosed as dehydration. She was given an IV and again sent back to her hotel where she began having episodes of vomiting and unconsciousness. She was advised to return to the clinic where she became unresponsive. By this time Christin was in serious trouble. According to one doctor who reviewed her autopsy report, she was “bleeding and oozing from every orifice of her body.”
A clinic employee called 911. More worried abut the clinics image than Christin, she begged the dispatcher to turn off the lights or sirens of the ambulance. The ambulance arrived and took Christin to the emergency room at Wesley Medical Center, but it was too late. Christin died. According to the medical examiner’s report, her horrifying and painful death was a direct result of the abortion. What’s worse, it could have been prevented if not for the misdiagnosis and slow response of clinic staff.
I really must wonder how much she understood of what was happening to her during those painful and frightening hours and days leading to her death and the death of her baby. But without any coverage from the news, no outcry from her parents or the public, Christin is now dead. This sweet and precious little girl was sexually assaulted, her baby was killed (likely without her consent) then she herself suffered and died a brutal and painful end.
God help us for not protecting the most precious and vulnerable among us. I can only repeat the questions asked by Sen. Brownback: “What does that do to us? What does that say about us?”