Here’s a question for you parents. How much money is your child worth? What is the price tag you would print out and paste on their forehead before putting them on the shelf at Wal-Mart? I’m sure you would say priceless. But how much is a missed opportunity to abort your disabled child worth to you? One Florida couple said $9 million. The jury agreed but only gave them half.
On September 9, a West Palm Beach jury awarded parents Rodolfo Santana and Ana Mejia $4.5 million because they did not get accurate information from Dr. Marie Morel and OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches. Their son Bryan Santana, now age 3, was born disabled. He has no arms and only one leg. The argument made by his parents was that if the clinic had told them their son was so disabled, they would have aborted him. And since they didn’t get a chance to terminate Bryan in the womb, and obviously they can’t legally do it now, they wanted millions of dollars.
The woman, who certainly will not win any mother-of-the year awards, told the jury during the two-week trial:
Definitely, I would have had an abortion.
I hope when little Bryan grows up he never Googles himself or his parents. I can’t imagine the horror when he reads that his parents wish they would have killed him. I wonder how quickly he will grasp that his parents think his life, since he has disabilities, isn’t worth living. I wonder if that jury considered how the disabled community would feel if they knew that a jury awarded these parents millions because they missed the opportunity to abort their disabled son.
Shortly after the jury made its decision I contacted Marc Sherman, Program Director for AccessABILITY Center for Independent Living, Inc. Sherman, who has been diagnosed with C5/C6 quadriplegia himself, had a strong reaction:
A disability is just a natural part of life. A person with a disability has just as much worth and just as much as importance as anybody else. It doesn’t matter what kind of disability, they have just as much worth and importance. They should get to choose how they want to live.
Sherman went on to explain that people with disabilities are guaranteed the same rights as anyone else, and that this case says a lot about how our culture still sees the disabled as less than equal:
The disabled have rights just like women or minorities. This case would be the same as if these parents wanted to abort a child because of gender or race. It’s the same thing as in China where you have women aborting children because they are females and not males.
It’s a valid argument. What would that jury have done if the parents complained that the clinic told them they were having a male but they had a female? What would the reaction be to a parent openly saying that they deserve millions because they would have aborted their girl if they knew she was going to be a girl? Any ultrasound nurse will tell you that every once in a while they get the gender wrong. Does this give precedence for future lawsuits?
Few people realize how much sentiment exists out there that the disabled are less than human. If you want proof one only has too look at abortion. In the UK, for example, there are limits on when you can abort a baby unless that baby has severe disabilities. The UK law does not define those disabilities but allows abortion up until the moment of birth if the child is disabled. Why? Obviously the message is that a child with disabilities has less value or reason to live. The West Palm Beach jury would agree with that atrocious idea.
The numbers should shock you. In America, 90% of non-life threatening disabled babies are aborted. If you have a disability in the womb, you have a 1 in 10 chance of being born. You have a 9 in 10 chance of your parents deciding your life isn’t worth living. In 2003, a Gallup poll revealed that almost 6 in 10 Americans think it is okay to abort if a child has a mental or physical disability. Imagine if instead of a disability, 6 in 10 said it was okay to abort because a child is black or female.
Thankfully, these numbers are so shocking that even some on the pro-choice Left see this as a problem. The Left is conflicted in being pro-rights for all types of minorities, but being pro-choice on abortion. As one pro-choice writer put it:
There is clearly a double standard here. It seems that a large number of people are pro-life only for babies who are thought to be “perfect.” Polling indicates that people not faced with this decision personally would still be more likely to support an abortion in this situation. Reality indicates that people actually faced with this decision almost universally choose abortion.
We need more on the Left to realize their own double standard. Ted Kennedy, who was a huge pro-choice advocate, understood the poor treatment of the disabled. In 2005, Kennedy co-sponsored the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act. That bill expanded federal financing to teach parents of children with Down Syndrome how to help raise them. Kennedy understood that parents needed to learn that disabled children had equal value, and if parents learned those skills, then they wouldn’t feel the need to abort. The goal of the bill was to stop the atrocious rate of abortions based on a child being diagnosed with Down Syndrome. That bill was co-sponsored by big pro-lifer Sam Brownback, it was signed into law by President Bush, and it was actually backed by the pro-abortion NARAL.
We can dream that someday Americans will again see the value in the lives of the disabled and turn the 90% abortion rate around. But for now, a jury in Florida all made it clear that they believe the disabled are not worthy of life. And missing out on the chance to kill the disabled when still in the womb is now worth millions.