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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

gallagher fredOne of the great honors of my life was when I was asked at the meager age of 12 to be the godfather to an older cousin’s child. As a matter of fact, I was already a godfather and proud of it. But this was a little different.

My cousin came to me and explained that his child was a most special child and he wanted a special person as her godfather. I was certainly flattered, but even more so when I learned why she was so special. Michelle, the baby, was a child with Down Syndrome. Now, in our extended family, Michelle got about as much loving attention as a child could stand. But no one then could ever have guessed that in today’s more “progressive” society, we would be able to test before a child is born to find out if he or she has Down Syndrome. And, as it has come to pass, if the mother has tested positive, about eight in 10 of them choose to abort the baby.

That’s right, the medical establishment will graciously dismember the child limb by limb for the asking. If you are a baby boomer, think back and see if you remember Down Syndrome kids in your neighborhood, church or school. It was not uncommon to encounter Down Syndrome children when I was growing up. And though every person is different, the Down Syndrome children I have known have been, according to their parents, a special blessing to their families. Many of the parents have spoken of the delight their children have brought, along with a keener awareness of God’s vital pulse beating joyously in a very special way in every human creature.

If you are a youngster now, you will see very few of these children in your lifetime. Why? Because now we kill them. And we kill them legally, brutally and with the approbation of our courts and our culture.

Recently I stood once again by a thoroughfare holding a sign affirming a commitment to the protection of the unborn. The peaceful witness of the Life Chain stretched along a sidewalk in front of a Catholic church, and the same scene was enacted by thousands all over the country. This year it took about a minute after my arrival before a young woman in a nice car rode by with her middle finger up in the air, content to make her “moving” statement. It happened two other times, too, both times young women in nice cars with those fingers purposefully thrust up in defense of the “right” to kill babies in their mother’s wombs.

102717 lifechainOf course, that day there were many more signs of approval: car horns sounding and thumbs up and fists pumping.

Not so in years past. Once, many years ago, I stood in the rain at a Life Chain and one car actually swerved to go through a puddle in front of me. Whoever it was must have had a good laugh because they got me, all right. A strange mindset, that.

I also stood this time remembering years gone by when my wife and I had our children with us, strollers and all. And later, the kids themselves held those signs admirably, even when the signs were bigger than they were. How many years will we hold these signs?

Even though statistics show the rate of abortions is declining, abortions are going up for reasons of selection, which, by the way, hearkens back to the philosophy of the eugenicist founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. Yes, the selection process started full force in this country with Mrs. Sanger, who didn’t particularly want more black children being born into American society or sick children, or children whose parents were poor, or children challenged in any way.

At some point, every year on a Sunday in October (Respect Life Month and, of course, one of Mary’s months) when I stand silently for an hour in a Life Chain, I think of Down Syndrome children, of my goddaughter riding her horse, of the lovely young fellow in the pew at church with his mother who follows the Mass and waves to Father during the Sign of Peace. I think of all those beautiful children who will not be born, who will die horribly in utero, slain by a society who no longer values their lives. And, as a young woman in her nice car goes by with her middle finger in the air…I pray.

Fred Gallagher is an author and editor-in-chief with Gastonia-based Good Will Publishers Inc.