Quality of Life, Quality of Mercy

In a previous post I told about a conversation I had with a friend who claimed that God never gives us pain.

That same friend told me that if I just had enough faith our daughter Cherub would be ‘healed,’ and thus, more glorifying to God. The Cherub’s primary diagnosis is retardation. So what my friend was saying was basically that were the Cherub smarter, God would be more glorified by her existance than He is now. Now, I could be convinced that if my friend were smarter (or wiser?), she’d be bringing more glory to God than she is now, but I’m not convinced that Cherub is a total loss in the God glorifying department.

Why isn’t she, in her happiness and laughter and mischief and unique self, good enough to glorify God in my friend’s eyes, or valuable enough to live in the eyes of many pro-choice types? Are our other ‘normal’ children more pleasing to God, more acceptable somehow? Are their lives worth living, and The Cherub’s is not?

My friend admitted that she was, in fact, assuming that God somehow placed a higher value on a certain level of intelligence or mental developmental level, to use a convoluted phrase.

I’ve given up long ago on using “PC” words about this. The Cherub is brain damaged, mentally retarded, developmentally delayed, handicapped, handicapable, mentally challenged, special needs- I use the words I think communicate best in any given situation. They are all just words, words to describe one aspect of who my daughter is. They each have their uses and functions and I take no offense at any of them, and The Cherub cares even less what words are used, as long as somebody gives her a smile, a hug, or a cookie. However, sometimes certain words are used with the intent to devalue The Cherub and her life.

Some people who have just met us will often tell us over and over again how sorry
they feel for the Cherub. It tends to be the most unobservant, or perhaps self-absorbed, people who feel so sorry for her. We can tell, because sooner or later, they will draw attention to their self-absorbtion by saying something like “I wouldn’t want to live like that.” I find this sadly amusing, as the Cherub is generally a pretty happy soul, and is perfectly content with things as they are (although there could always be another cookie, another song, another hug, another joy ride on a golf cart). I’m pretty sure that I would not want to live my life as a self-absorbed fool, either, but I don’t tell them it would be better if they’d been killed at birth just because I would find it unsatisfying to live life as they do.

To those with a heart and mind to learn, the Cherub has some lessons to teach- just by her existance. It’s hard to stay self-absorbed around somebody who has so little, but loves so much. We tend to feel sorrier for those who do not have a Cherub in their lives.

Christopher Nolan, Irish poet, author, and a remarkable mind is also extremely physically disabled. He wrote a book called _Under the Eye of the Clock_, an autobiographical account of his childhood. We highly recommend this book- it is real. It’s a bit gritty in places, some language, that sort of thing- but this is really a book worth reading.

Mr. Nolan points out that one of the greatest ironies of this age is that now, when technology opens up opportunities and chances for life for the disabled that nobody could have ever even imagined 200 years ago, the ‘opportunity’ many of the able bodied are most anxious to share with the disabled is the chance to kill themselves, or to have the deed done to them under medical supervision. Neither Mr. Nolan nor our Cherub pose a threat to anybody. Neither of them can harm, maim, or kill another human being. So why would some prefer to see people like them aborted, quitely put to sleep, or, as in the case of Terri Shiavo, denied food and hydration?

UPDATED 3/13/05 to correct some typos, most especially the embarrassing one where I said I *would* want to live my life as a self-absorbed fool instead of I would *not*. What a difference is made by those three little letters, eh?

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Exodus 21:22-23

A friend tells me that he believes this verse ought to give pro-life Christians pause. Let us consider it.

Exod 21:22-23
22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit
depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished,
according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges
determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

Exod 21:22-23
22 “And {if} men struggle with each other and strike a woman with
child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no {further} injury, he shall
surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall
pay as the judges {decide.}
23 “But if there is {any further} injury, then you shall appoint {as a
penalty} life for life,
(New American Standard)

Exod 21:22
22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth
prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined
whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.
23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,
(New International Version)

Exod 21:22-23
22 “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth
prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as
the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 “But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,
(New King James)

the word for ‘fruit’ as used in the KJV is yeled (yeh’-led);
” something born, i.e. a lad or offspring: -boy, child, fruit, son,
young man (one).”

The word for ‘give birth prematurely’ or ‘miscarries’ (as the NAS
translates it) , or ‘depart from her’ is “yatsa’ (yaw-tsaw’);
a primitive root; to go (causatively, bring) out, in a great variety
of applications, literally and figuratively, direct and proxim.:”
It is translated in the KJV as: X after, appear, X assuredly, bear out, X begotten, break out, bring forth (out, up), carry out, come (abroad, out, thereat, without), + be condemned, depart (-ing, -ure), draw forth, in the end, escape, exact, fail, fall
(out), fetch forth (out), get away (forth, hence, out), (able to, cause to,
let) go abroad (forth, on, out), going out, grow, have forth (out),
issue out, lay (lie) out, lead out, pluck out, proceed, pull out, put away,
be risen, X scarce, send with commandment, shoot forth, spread, spring
out, stand out, X still, X surely, take forth (out), at any time, X to [and
fro], utter.
(taken from Strong’s)

I would argue this is not referring to any situation where somebody is deliberately and with malice aforethought attempting to slay the unborn child (as in an abortion). Furthermore, they aren’t even trying to harm the mother- it seems to me to be accidental.

Finally, it’s not at all clear that the baby actually dies. There is one version which translates the word in question as miscarriage, but this word is not used for miscarriage anywhere else that I could find, nor would it make sense to translate it as miscarriage in any other case where it is used. Furthermore, there actually is a word for miscarriage, and it is used in other passages where a miscarriage is
clearly intended (Job, for one example), and which would surely have been used
here if miscarriage were what was intended. The word used instead is
sometimes translated as ‘brought forth’ (as in the creation account, when the ‘earth brought forth grass.’).

It’s used often when somebody goes out of a door or a city, and it’s the
word used when Jacob’s hand comes out of the birth canal ahead of to grab his brother’s heel:

“And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac [was] threescore years old when she bare them.”Gen. 25:26

 (Updated to clarify, thanks, David)
So it looks to me like what’s happened is a premature birth, not necessarily
a miscarriage, and that the further hurt or mischief referred to is
whether or not the child OR the mother actually dies.

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The Conversation

Back Story:
One of our children is severely disabled. She has I.Q. of approximately 35, is considered profoundly retarded, and we adopted her when she was almost six years old.

True Conversation:

Pro-choice Friend: The absolute assertion that a foetus at every stage of
its development is alive in the same sense as a vital, thinking, functioning human being is historically, forensically and medically baseless.

Deputy Headmistress:
Using this reasoning has led some people to conclude that our daughter (We shall call her Cherub) and others like her is neither ‘alive’ or human.

Pro-choice Friend: I’m terribly sorry and deeply shocked. But what about compassion for the women?

Deputy Headmistress:

while I greatly appreciate your empathy regarding Cherub and those
people who would argue that she (and any other like her) is less than human, I am
afraid it is simply the logical progression of any argument that insists
unborn babies are less than human.

Cherub needed life support at birth. Unborn babies need life support, too.
It’s called a womb. Cherub has been diagnosed as profoundly retarded. A
good many people believe that her quality of life is bad enough that she
would be better off dead. They are wrong.

Cherub’s birth mother was sorry that Cherub wasn’t aborted. I am glad that she was not.

For me, extending compassion to the pregnant woman does not include refusing
it to the unborn child. I don’t believe abortion is a compassionate choice.
It is emotionally traumatic. It is not ‘safe.’ It can affect a woman’s
future chances of childbirth. It appears it can increase her risk for
breast cancer.

I believe there are individuals who are truly pro-choice out of compassion, however misguided I feel that compassion is. But it troubles me greatly that the single
demographic group most in favor of legalized abortion is young men in their
teens and early 20’s. I do not believe it is compassion that motivates the
majority of this group.

When I was 20 I conceived our first child. We were poor and not living in
anything close to ideal circumstances. Planned Parenthood offered free
pregnancy tests, so that’s where I went. They gave me the results of my
test and asked me one question- “Would you like an abortion?” When I said
no, the only response I got was a shrug and a dismissal. There was no
compassion, no desire to help. There wasn’t even a simple smile and

The pro-lifers do hold the high ground when it comes to compassion for the
mother. They offer assistance with medical care, maternity clothes, job
training, baby clothes, toiletries, and other support. They offer all this,
plus relief from the searingly painful regret so many women who ‘choose’
abortion will later suffer.

Pro-choice Friend:

Deputy Headmistress: Well?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Response

Now pay attention, please.

Because this is important. It is important enough for the Equuschick to cease to refer to herlelf as such, and reveal herself in a very rare First Person.

I know those of you who subscribe to World magazine will all ready be on top of it, and a few of you others but have some skimpy outlines of the plot, but I didn’t realize how much the mainstream media has been downplaying the story until I talked to a dear friend and realized she had never heard the name “Terri Schiavo.” If you, too, don’t recognize the name than you MUST LEARN IT. I will sum up briefly, then give you links. Terri is a disabled woman who is not even on life support, but she is disabled enough to need to be fed through a tube. Her husband, who won $600,000 in her medical malpractice lawsuit and is now publicly engaged to another woman, has been fighting since 1993 for her euthanasia. (Headmistress’ clarification- He received millions of dollars on Terri’s behalf, which was, he said, for the purpose of providing her therapy. As soon as he received that money, he stopped all therapy and began trying to kill Terri.] He’s been fighting Terri’s parents, and they’ve been losing. I’m skipping a whole lot of good stuff you will learn in the links, but as of This Moment March 18’th is the date her feeding tube will be removed. There is a petition on Terri’s website that you can sign. I’ve done that, too. And we can pray. Hard.

Terri’s Fight
World Mag’s Search Engine
Fight for Terri

UPDATE: The Anchoress has an important update:

A Move for Terri

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True Confessions of Parenting

The Deputy Headmistress is fond of a certain rather florid writing style. She thinks it is fun to sound a pretentious, preachy, stuffy governess of the Victorian Age. The Headmistress loves to lose herself in yesteryear as a gentle and inexpensive vacation from real life. She wishes others to enjoy this escape with her, but not to despair and feel that they do not measure up the Deputy Headmistress. In real life, the scatty mother who is playing the Deputy Headmistress also does not measure up to the Deputy Headmistress.

We fear the Gentle REader does not believe us when we say the Deputy Headmistress is not floating through life in flowered gowns, white gloves, and a gentle cloud of violet perfume and gracious gentility. She is more often seen stumbling through life in her house slippers, cup of coffee in hand. That gentle cloud is probably because she didn’t have time to shower, and the gracious gentility looks perhaps more like utter distraction upon closer aquaintance.

Still desbelieving? In a departure from our usual style, we take you back to an event of yesteryear. Perhaps seven years ago, the Headmistress shared the story below with some friends. With some slight editing of errors, the Headmistress repeats it for your edification.

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed
(We return to channeling the Headmistress to tell the Gentle Reader in firm but friendly tones that we hope Gentle R. is familiar with the poetry of the esteeemed A. A. Milne, and so we assume this literary allusion needs no further explanation)

Lost: Portable phone
Found: In freezer

Stolen: one package of starbursts
Found: empty wrapper next to small pair of dirty footprints in bath tub behind
shower curtain.

Strayed: Entire contents of my pantry shelves (boxed and canned goods to feed a
family of nine for over a week)
Found: Entire contents of pantry utilized to form abstract sculpture on
kitchen floor.

Broken: One towel rack
Why? It could not withstand the weight of a thirty pound gymnast, a defect shared also by my quilt rack and the wooden clothes rack.

Furthermore, approximately 412 books have migrated from their assigned
shelves to my bed, and I didn’t do it.
Moreover, the lovely sound of rain I thought I heard this afternoon was instead the
distinctly unlovely sound of the toilet rejecting an entire box of tissues.
In addition, I found my sweatshirt wrapped around a half eaten apple long past its prime in the back of the wardrobe, our 13 y.o.’s schedule has some illegible additions made with green crayon, and a missing dishtowel and hotpad were found in the oven (fortunately before we turned it on for lunch).

The Toddler left her fingerprints everywhere today, perhaps because she found an inkpad left out from rubber stamping. Those fingerprints were on herself, her clothes, and my leather chair. The Toddler also had to clean indelible marker off of her, her hands, her clothes, the window, the table, and the counter.

Today the 13 y.o. told the little culprit not to hit her, and the culprit glowered fiercely and said,

“I *need* to.”

As near as I can tell, *nothing* that is an acceptable toy to me is an
acceptable toy to The Toddler. It sounds like she’s spending lots of time alone, but she’s not. She’s simply fast.

Once upon a time my dh wouldn’t believe me when we told him how quick she was. Then we left him alone with her. She was standing at the livingroom window wailing as we drove away, so he though it would be safe to make a quick dash to the bathroom to do the necessary. He returned seconds later to find the 2 y.o. child standing on the kitchen counter pulling out a bottle of tylenol from the highest shelf in the cupboard. We didn’t even realize she knew it was there. We bought a fishing tackle box with a lock and key for the medicines.

But we can’t lock up everything in the house. At this point, the best solution I have is chains and a cellar for The Toddler.

Well, no, what we’re going to do is schedule one person to play with her each
half hour. That way, her sisters can do their school work unmolested and I can
assist them all as necessary and get my chores done.

Do not tell me to let her help. I’ve tried letting her help. She only wants to do the dangerous jobs, if it carries a risk of burning, cutting, dismembering or death, that’s the job she wants. If it’s safe for a toddler, that’s a job beneath her.

I’ve tried ‘filling her bucket first’ i.e. making sure I do special things with her first. We start our mornings with her snuggling with me in bed while I read her a book. Then I do a puzzle with her after breakfast, and other togetherness activities follow- but it doesn’t matter. As soon as I have to go do something else, she’s either demanding the personal attention of whoever is the busiest, most pre-occupied person in the house, or she’s wreaking havoc.

It’s a good thing she’s so perfectly adorable.

As Equuschick says, So. Yes.

We survived. We got a dog. We had a baby. We prayed a lot. The Toddler is now Nine. She has had two accidents requiring stitches (five each) and one accident requiring surgery. She is our sixth child. We tell people God made her our sixth child rather than our first because He knew it would take that many of us to keep her from killing herself every single day. She is full of vim and vigour and the joy of living. Fire sparks from her fingertips, lightening flashes from her eyes, and consumes my heart with love and gratitude to the marvelous God who trusted us with her. Of course, fear also overwhelms at time. What was HE Thinking? How can we be trusted with her?! She is irreplacable. We are not worthy. And we hope her children will be just like her. Anything less would be most unfair.

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