Commentary by Doug Mazza, President and COO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center and is the co-author of “Another Kind of Courage: God’s Design for Fathers of Families Affected by Disability.”
The question “When does life begin?” has been at the center of the abortion issue since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision was announced in 1973.
For the sake of finding common ground, let’s go beyond birth and agree that a living, breathing child asleep in a crib is to be considered both “born” and “life” protected by the laws of the land. It is reasonable therefore to conclude that anyone who willfully and purposefully ends that life would be committing a murder.
Not so, according to Princeton ethics (yes, ethics!) professor Peter Singer who was recently interviewed on New York radio (AM 970) defending his 1993 treatise “Taking Life: Humans” – in it, he promotes infanticide for severely disabled children.
Singer argues that the health-care system under Obamacare should openly acknowledge health-care rationing and that the country should acknowledge the necessity of “intentionally ending the lives of severely disabled infants.” Singer calls it a nice, antiseptic, “non-voluntary euthanasia.”
I am the parent of one of Singer’s potential victims. My son, Ryan, is blind, severely developmentally disabled, doesn’t speak, and is fed through a tube. Exactly the person Singer is hunting and targeting for “involuntary euthanasia.” In Singer’s world my consent would not be needed. Ryan would be “non-voluntarily” euthanized. So my son would be, more accurately, found guilty of having a severe disability and executed by the state.
[sharequote align=”center”]My disabled son has brought more significance to the work of my life than any other source.[/sharequote]
But there’s more to this story than a technical, mechanistic elimination of a disabled child.
Without Ryan, I would not have found my purpose in life. Ryan, whom I mistakenly viewed as a tragedy when he was born, ultimately taught me the meaning of compassion, perseverance, kindness, and more. As I’ve shared how Ryan’s life transformed my own, my boy has inspired thousands across the country and throughout the world. I wouldn’t have missed out on knowing him for anything.
I would never have chosen to serve as President of the Joni and Friends International Disability Center were it not for his inspiring example. The lives of thousands of other special-needs families are changing through my partnership with Ryan. He has brought more significance to the work of my life than any other source.
Ryan will never pursue a degree, land a job, raise a family, pay taxes, or hold office. Yet his life demonstrates consummate purpose. His perseverance inspires me and countless others to press on, persevere, and never give up, no matter how intimidating the challenge. His will to live has birthed in me a voracious desire to not waste one precious day. His unfiltered expressions of joy drive me to serve others in a way I never could have realized on my own.
Ryan may deserve death in Singer’s mind. He’s got a chart to prove it. Yet last year, when Joni and Friends delivered its 100,000th wheelchair to a severely disabled child in Africa, everyone agreed that Ryan was an important impetus. Maybe he didn’t personally deliver those 100,000 chairs, but because of him many have found their suffering eased and their abilities expanded and a bountiful harvest of joy would have been missed.
And Dr. Singer, that same chart that would ensure his death, inspires more life and love than you could possibly imagine. And I’ve got my own chart to prove it!
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