Horror! Mom Kills Son in Womb To Spare Him Any Pain

Chelsea Zimmerman is guest posting here once a week for the next few weeks. We're glad to have her. She typically writes at Reflections of a Paralytic - which is a great blog that you should bookmark or follow or favorite or whatever it is you do to. Just read her. Here she is:

And here's her excellent post:

After the accident that left me paralyzed from the chest down, my first roommate in rehab was a young woman with spina bifida, a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings, usually leaving the individual unable to walk unaided. She was the happiest, most full of life girl I’ve ever met and her love for life influenced me greatly, helping me more easily adjust to life with a major disability.

I’ve lost touch with her over the years, but she and her infectious laughter were clear in my mind as I read with great sadness this column by “Sara Carpenter” (a pseudonym) in the UK Daily Mail about the decision she made to kill her unborn child after it was determined that he would be born with spina bifida. It’s not that it was news to me that children pre-natally diagnosed with various diseases and disabilities are killed in untero. But the description she gave of how she pictured her son’s life with a disability cut me to the core:
“I pictured him watching from the sofa, frustrated and immobile, as his sisters turned cartwheels and somersaults in the living room. I envisaged trips to the park, where he would sit on the sidelines as other children clambered over climbing frames and kicked footballs. … “I tried to shake away the image I conjured in my head of a little boy, lonely and friendless, robbed of the most basic human functions. The prospect of watching a child I’d love just as much as his sisters suffer in this way made me howl. I hugged my stomach, as if I could in some way shield him from the misery that lay ahead.”
What is even more upsetting about her account is that Sara and her husband both acknowledged that they were in fact killing their son – not vaguely “terminating a pregnancy.” They named him, held him after he was delivered via induced labor abortion and gave him a proper burial. Sara even talks about the abortion being, “completely at odds with my instincts as a mother.” And yet she did it and she justified it because she thought she was sparing him the awful life she was so sure he would have.

But why was she so sure of this? Who says that disabled children have such miserable lives? Certainly not the children themselves! In fact, researchers at Newcastle University recently applied standard self-assessment techniques used to appraise children’s levels of happiness to 500 young people with cerebral palsy. The results demonstrated that “Disabled children in the North of England have the same range of happiness and unhappiness as all children.” As they grow up and develop their sense of self, “they see their disabilities as part as who they are…(and) they perceived their position in life no differently as their friends in the general population.” The same can be said of children with other disabilities, including spina bifida. I dare anyone to listen to this laugh and tell me that that child is not happy to be alive.

So what is the problem?

The problem is that by and large non-disabled people simply disagree with this. They instinctively judge the lives of these children through able-bodied eyes and only see tragedy. Going back to the Newcastle study, even many parents who have chosen to love and care for their disabled child scored their children’s quality of life much lower than the children themselves. And, so many, many parents like the Carpenters conclude that the only loving thing to do is end their handicapped child’s life in the womb and spare them the suffering.

I have no doubt that the decision to abort is every bit as agonizing as Carpenter describes in her piece. However the parents and those advising them in these cases are confusing love with pity which often stems from a kind of selfish empathy. One sees a child in a wheelchair and thinks that he would rather be dead than have to live in such a situation himself, so he decides that it is much more merciful to never allow a child like that to be born. These people are so blinded by fear of the “otherness” of such conditions that they cannot see what is still good and beautiful. What’s more, in many ways, they are trying to save themselves from the emotional stress of having to care for someone suffering so terribly as much as they are trying to save the child from his own suffering, if not more so.

Everyone has the right to pursue happiness, including children with disabilities, and the reality is that most of them will enjoy their lives immensely…if they’re given the opportunity. Sure, sick and disabled people must endure sometimes tragic suffering, but the value and meaning of our lives are no way diminished by some physical limitations. Even in the midst of the pain and adversity that come with disease and disability, there is still quite a lot to enjoy about life. You just have to be willing to see it.

Note: Remember to check out Chelsea's blog Reflections of a Paralytic.


  1. Selfish empathy is right. The mother doesn't even bother letting him be born and grow to fullly see the extent of his limitations. I have a feeling that she is picturing HERSELF on the "sidelines." Only perfect children get the benefit of the mothering instinct? The way she casts the murder in a cloak of nobility is gruesome. Poor baby.
    My guess is that she went through all the rituals of real delivery to convince herself that she had a stillbirth.

    Watch out for this lunatic if one of her born children gets in a maiming car accident or something... she determine that their life wasn't worth living either.

  2. Beautiful!...and very important for us able-bodied people to realize

  3. I'm wondering if she was more concerned with how much she was going to be limited with a child who is unable to walk. I know many who have children who are special needs and these parent's lives and hearts have grown enormously to make them capable of the task. God has blessed them with their child. They are filled with joy.

  4. I recall reading that Doctors are now able to possibly correct spina bifida by operating while the baby is still in the womb. Perhaps it was another birth defect, ( I don't even like to say defect, but ) yet it is so sad that anyone would choose to do what she did to her own baby, which is: she did not spare her child from pain she murdered her baby!

  5. I had a good friend in graduate school who had spina bifida and was a very bright friend, determined, cheerful, practical. As a child her parents helped to develop case law regarding her educational program which became nationwide precedent for educating children with physical disabilities but with sharp intellect (at one time school systems would place all children with disabilities together regardless of type of disability or children's individual strengths and weaknesses). Without her example, many children with all different sorts of difficulties would have suffered and been discriminated against, that much more. She is now a gifted teacher in her own rite.

    We have to stop supporting abortion as it is depriving the world of a great diversity which has already been willed and blessed by God.

  6. As I was reading what this mother, "Sara" wrote about how she perceived her disabled son to be relegated to sitting on the sidelines...I thought of my son when he had broken his leg and was stuck on the couch for a week. I thought of how his sisters were frolicking and playing, and he was LAUGHING at them and SHARING in their joy of their moments.

    This was a great piece.

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  8. I'm always taken aback by the total failure of the imagination that is necessary to make decisions like the one these parents made.
    Check out this essay by Harriet McBryde Johnson, on her confrontation with Peter Singer. She does a beautiful job of dispelling the notion that disabled people's experiences cannot possibly 'measure up' to those of the fully able-bodied.

  9. Suppose the diagnosis of spina bifida was wrong. Also there are different kinds of spina bifida and some will have minor or no impact to the individual.
    I feel sad for people like "Sara" and her husband.

  10. F'ing Sad... That child might have been the one to grow up and found a cure for cancer, or AIDS, or even the common cold.

    One can hope that 100 years from now, abortion will be looked upon, the same way we today look up slavery.

    All that wasted potential. Gone. 40+ million people.

    All without firing a shot.

    May our great-grandchildren forgive us.

  11. You know what is so macabre as the culture of death marches on overpowering? That now people are informed of, totally know, can know, a great deal about the unique person who is slated to be killed. This child was killed because he was disabled. What if we are able in some years to know other things about the child, genetic or otherwise? We already have access to ultrasound. Why do we want to encourage people to take other people's lives due to a label?

  12. Fantastic post. Glad to see you guys highlighting Chelsea's work -- she's an excellent writer.

  13. My guess is that the parents were robbed of all hope by the doctors, nurses, counselors, and other medical professionals that should have given them hope. I doubt they were even had a chance to meet someone with the disability. Sure it is a pain to deal with, but with modern adaptive technologies the way they are it is perfectly do-able.

  14. To be honest, I can probably tell you where the mindset begins. With political correctness. In my mind political correctness stems from the same false since of pity. "People First Language" has ruined our perspective that every one is an individual and there is no one out there who is "Normal". I would know. I'm one of those "disabled" kids. Be it not a physical disability, mine is even worst it's a learning disability that no one can see. They look at me like I'm an idiot every time I need to read something aloud, am asked to do a simple task that for the life of me I can't figure out, I break down under pressure. Does that change the fact that I'm a very intelligent individual who holds a masters degree in speech pathology? No in fact it gives me the insight to see how special and gifted people with disabilities are. They don't fit into the mold. When it comes to disabilities from birth It's so much easier than an acquired disability because you know no other way. It is your life. Be proud of who you are no matter who that might be, no matter your physical abilities, mental abilities, psychological limitations. We are taught to see others as less than ourselves. I watch preschool kids accept their peers for who they are in reverse inclusion classes. Then see those same kids who were friends get indoctrinated by society and in second grade tease and make fun of the kid who can't walk, or looks different than themselves. In my eyes it's not the disabled kid who should be pitied. It's the parents who teach their children to judge, or the parent who chooses to have empty arms instead of seeing the wonderful gift God gave them. I know no one who would rather be dead than to live with the wonderful gift of life God gave them. Yes it can be hard at time but no ones life is easy, everyone has their hard days but it's on those hard days that you learn who you are and what kind of power you've got inside.

    Sorry for the long post but that is truly one of my major pet peeves. Probably doesn't help that my mother was told to abort me for multiple reasons that I won't go into but never occurred.

  15. I wonder just how many people with birth defects ever asked their mothers why they let them live? On the contrary, I've seen the opposite in pro-life marches and bloggers who thank us for making a stand for their chance and right to live.

  16. this pair should read the letter by Sarah Palin! Strikes me they are sick and deserve no sympathy.

  17. Do you notice how often the mother uses "I"?
    It's all about her not the child.

  18. The real tragedy is not in the quality of life that child would have when born with a disability. The real tragedy is the quality of life of those who would intimately interact with that child (family members, school children, medical care workers, statesmen, etc.) have lost a richness of compassion that can never be earned back.
    We need people with disabilities in our midst to remind us how richly we are blessed and how richly we can love.

  19. As others I have said, I can't escape the impression that the changes in the life of the mother had here a bigger role to play than the alleged unhappiness in the life of the child.

    I have heard many people saying that they don't want to have children because they consider it something cruel to set in a children in a world that (pick your choice) is goign to be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust/ is going to be destroyed by SUV drivers / is ohhhh so cruel and cold.

    All through the ages, disabled children have been born, have been cared for and have lived Christian lives, reminding us of the Greatness of the One who gave them life, and love, and to us the love to care for them and make them happy; all this, through times of much greater poverty and insecurity than the alleged threats we live with today.

    The woman must ask herself how would she see a mother who, for exactly the same reasons as her, killed her three-years-old son claiming the same oh so humanitarian motives.


  20. Eminent scientists and politicians give us hope that research can cure disease, but publicly champion abotion. Life is an absolute but we are led to believe it is "measurable" by a "quality of life" and an "ability to function". Thus, a person may feel alone in making crucial decisions and indifference may be just enough to tip the balance one way or another, more than any statement or advice.

  21. @PattyinCT re: "The real tragedy is the quality of life of those who would intimately interact with that child (family members, school children, medical care workers, statesmen, etc.) have lost a richness of compassion that can never be earned back."

    I love this comment. And these people were created for caring. Their life's work have been aborted as well.

  22. "...they instinctively judge the lives of these children through able-bodied eyes and only see tragedy."

    This is so true. When my own daughter with spina bifida was born, several doctors and even one family member suggested that her birth need not have happened. To them, anything other than a "perfect baby" was undesirable.

    She's now 24. Her disability changed our lives immeasurably for the better, and helped shape her into the fine young woman she is today. Of course there were challenges, and pain both physical and emotional, but whose life is pain free?

    It is so grievously sad to read of a mother who can't see the value and infinite potential of her own baby's life.

  23. It is selfishness, pure and simple. I've had an abortion for purely selfish reasons. However, I was also blessed to have given birth to a disabled daughter - totally dependent on others for her care, unable to speak or walk, and severely mentally handicapped as well. For 19 years she gave a new purpose to mine and my family's lives. I would give anything to have another day with her here on earth. I have asked God for forgiveness for what I did to my unborn child.


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