Tuesday, May 08, 2007


i thought this was a compelling story surrounding a turbulent issue. it comes from a blogger named rhiannon. read and judge for yourself.

Monday, January 22, 2007
A story, which partially defines why I am pro-choice. A young couple, Ellen and Jeffrey, recently married. Ellen becomes pregnant. They're ecstatic. They have their baby, Justin. He's beautiful. Long eyelashes, porcelain complexion, incredible smile. He is everything a parent could want in a child.

After a while they notice that Justin's not holding his head up, when he's at the age when he should be. The doctor suggests doing excercises with him to increase his muscle mass. This doesn't work. A second doctor runs tests. After doing an eye exam, he notices right away a cherry-red spot in Justin's eyes; a dead give-away for Tay Sachs.

What is Tay-Sachs? In a nutshell, Alzheimers in infants. This disease can only be aquired in utero, and eats away at the child's central nervous system until he is dead, usually before the child's 5th birthday. There is no cure. Treatments do little to prolong a meaningful life for the child.

Ellen and Jeffrey are devastated. At the tender age of 10 months, their beautiful baby boy has been diagnosed as terminal. They have to watch their baby die, knowing that there's nothing they can do about it.

Over time, Justin loses control of his crying. In restaurants, patrons approach Jeffrey and Ellen asking them to do something about their child, unaware of his condition. His eyes become very feeble and sensitive to light before he loses his sight entirely. When taken outdoors, he is given sunglasses to wear. An abnormally large tongue, another trait caused by Tay-Sachs, causes Justin to have siezures.

After a while, caring for Justin at home becomes too emotionally draining, so Jeffrey and Ellen take Justin to a hospital where he can receive 24 hour care. They spend time with him daily in the hospital. Eventually Justin loses his sight comletely, and his ability to move at all. Medical professionals at the hospital keep a close eye on him, making sure to turn him and move him, preventing atrophy and bedsores. He becomes mentally retarded. He never loses his startle reflex, meaning when people approach him, he jumps in surprise. Whether or not he became deaf will never be known, as eventually, he was unable to physically respond to anything or anyone. A music box was placed in his crib, in the hopes that it would provide some kind of auditory stimulation, providing he hadn't lost his hearing. Again, we'll never know.

At the tender age of 3 and a half, Justin passes away. Jeffrey and Ellen are so destroyed that in order to move on, they must move into a new home, as their first home held too many devastating memories. Over 20 years later, Ellen still says that the second house saved her life. She says little about their first home, only that she "couldn't stay in that house."

Justin had an intoxicating smile, and he loved orange sherbet. Ellen and Jeffrey speak often of him, and what a happy child he was, prior to Tay-Sachs taking over his body. They recorded his laugh so that they can still hear their happy baby. They visit his burial site twice a year; once on his birthday and once on the anniversary of his death.

During Justin's life, Jeffrey and Ellen had two more sons, Brent and Adam. Prior to their births, Ellen had amniocenteses to make sure neither of them had Tay-Sachs. A fourth pregnancy, was also tested. That child was a Tay-Sachs baby. Unable to put themselves or their child through the devastation the three of them had already experienced, they chose to abort the pregnancy.


I do not see abortion as a means of birth control. Abortion is an extreme procedure, that takes quite a toll on the human body and should not be performed lightly. After only one abortion, a woman can become unable to carry or give birth to anymore children.

Though I've never had children, been pregnant, or had an abortion, I understand why Ellen and Jeff made the choice they made. I cannot imagine the devastation of losing a child, especially when all you can do is sit back and watch him being taken from you, not being able to do anything to help him.

This is why I am pro-choice.


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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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