Jon Will at 40

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As the father of an autistic son, who, with his brother and sister, is the light of the lives of myself and my wife, the struggle for the right to life of the unborn is a personal battle.  The contempt shown for innocent human life by abortion is magnified when the fact that a child in the womb is less than perfect is introduced into the mix.  People like my son, who lights up any room when he smiles, who is as agile and nimble as a cat in her prime,  and who likes to cook  with the microwave, would be regarded by those who prize abortion as prime candidates for elimination if their condition could be detected in the womb.  George Will has a moving column about his son Jon who has just turned 40.

Jon was born just 19 years after James Watson and Francis Crick published their discoveries concerning the structure of DNA, discoveries that would enhance understanding of the structure of Jon, whose every cell is imprinted with Down syndrome. Jon was born just as prenatal genetic testing, which can detect Down syndrome, was becoming common. And Jon was born eight months before Roe v. Wade inaugurated this era of the casual destruction of pre-born babies.

This era has coincided, not just coincidentally, with the full, garish flowering of the baby boomers’ vast sense of entitlement, which encompasses an entitlement to exemption from nature’s mishaps, and to a perfect baby. So today science enables what the ethos ratifies, the choice of killing children with Down syndrome before birth. That is what happens to 90 percent of those whose parents receive a Down syndrome diagnosis through prenatal testing.

Which is unfortunate, and not just for them. Judging by Jon, the world would be improved by more people with Down syndrome, who are quite nice, as humans go. It is said we are all born brave, trusting and greedy, and remain greedy. People with Down syndrome must remain brave in order to navigate society’s complexities. They have no choice but to be trusting because, with limited understanding, and limited abilities to communicate misunderstanding, they, like Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” always depend on the kindness of strangers. Judging by Jon’s experience, they almost always receive it.

Go here  to read the rest.  Handicaps and disabilities can be painful to live with, but there is only one handicap and disability that is truly deadly:  a lack of love.

9 Responses to Jon Will at 40

  • “(OTOH, I found the comments at the WaPo site rather upsetting.)”

    The readers of the Washington Post and the New York Times, at least those who choose to comment, usually have the compassion of a shark when the sacred rite of abortion is challenged.

  • Don the Kiwi says:

    I have a cousin who had Downe’s. Although my aunt found it difficult raising her for her first few years, form the age of about 8 Mary became a joy to be with – always happy and loving. She lived with her parents until she was about 20, then went into a home with several others and a house parent. She died when she was about 50.
    I have a neice who is intellectually disabled – my daughter-in-law was suffering from hypoglycemia during her pregnancy, and Nicole (Nicky) was deprived of oxygen at birth. Again, the early years were difficult for Tina (sister-in-law) but as Nicky grew and became cognisant at around 5 or 6, she became a fun kid. She has the intellectual age of about a 4 year old, and is now coming up 30. She has been living with ,again, 2 or 3 other IHC people in their own house, and have caregivers helping them during the day, and a live-in carer full time.
    She has her own independence , comes to all the family functions and really enjoys being part of the falmily, and above all, of being fully alive.
    People who pre-judge that partly disabled people – physically or mentally – do not want to live, do not know anyone in that situation. They should look around and learn.

  • Jay says:

    Is George Will still an Episcopalian? You know, that most aggressively ‘pro-choice’ and incredibly shrinking liturgical imitation of Catholicism.

  • Greg Mockeridge says:

    One of my nephews has an autistic son. One of my nieces is a special ed teacher who has worked with autistic children since her college days.

    One of the most satisfying experiences of my life was when I volunteered for a day the Plymouth Center for Human Development, an institution that cared for people with mental and physical handicaps in the Detroit area when I was 12. I remember helping a seven year old child who was both rather seriously mentally retarded (I don’t think he had Downs) as well as being physically handicaps. Almost 35 years later I still remember his name and what he looked like. I also remember we both took a liking to each other.

    You know, quality of life is a hard thing to define clearly when it is so subjective. But if cheerfulness is a standard to define quality of life most people with mental handicaps have a quality of life much better than I will ever have.

    One of the many mentally handicapped children murdered by the Nazis was one of Pope Benedict’s cousins.

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