A LITTLE OVER eight years ago, my niece heard these words from a woman, "I will not bring this child into the world." The woman was not an expectant mother, she was my niece’s obstetrician/gynaecologist. At five months into her pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed my niece’s child had no apparent brain matter. A subsequent ultrasound revealed that her son had an encephelocele and that the build up of spinal fluid had squished his brain to the top of his head making the brain itself undetectable on a regular ultrasound. Many experts advised termination of the pregnancy.

My niece and her husband decided to bring their little boy into the world even if it meant just a few precious moments with their little son or if it meant a lifetime of constant care. They had to find a neonatologist, a new delivery doctor and even a new pediatrician who would agree to care for their son with his special needs. Three months later, my niece gave birth to her second child. He was taken that week into surgery where they implanted a VP shunt to drain the excess spinal fluid to allow room for his brain. They were told their son probably would not see, hear, talk or walk.

Today, this young boy attends second grade, is preparing to make his first Communion, sees and comments on the beauty that surrounds him, asks his grandma to play the piano for him, is surprisingly articulate and is able to walk. While he has occasional seizures, he is a thriving little person deserving of care. Ultimately, he is a child of God, deserving of the special place in this world that God intended for him.

I guess my point is, prenatal testing is very worthwhile when it helps to prepare doctors and parents to help the child in need of help, but it can be very harmful and seductive when "experts" become the judge and jury of such a child and use it as a means to determine which children should live and which children they refuse to bring into the world. - Catherine Lemek

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