Tuesday, May 7, 2013

To The Anonymous Woman Who Terminated For Down Syndrome

Dear Anonymous,

Can I speak to you for a moment? Can we talk about the elephant that's in the room? It's going to make you angry, but please, bear with me.

You are not going to convince me that you made the right decision. I am not going to embrace it as acceptable or practical or personal to your circumstances. The life a child was willfully and consciously sacrificed. I cannot and will not think that is okay.

When you tell me that it has not affected you, I do not believe you. I cannot believe that anyone can take the life of another and walk away unscathed. Sin leaves a mark.

As a fellow sinner, I know this. I know about scars left on my heart by my own hand. I know what it feels like to be left utterly bereft by my own choices. I know how it is to be wholly separated from God and completely alone in a pit of my own digging. 

I know the heart grows harder over time and that it gets easier to justify my actions and to believe the lie that what I've done is not so bad, that others have done it too, that the reasons I had were good. 

I know how angry it makes me to be confronted with truth and to have my sin exposed. 

I made a different decision when confronted with a Down syndrome pregnancy. I chose to decline further testing and continue my pregnancy. I chose life.

But time and time again, life has not been my choice. The Bible says that the cost of sin is death. I, too, have willfully and consciously and repeatedly chosen death. 

Sometimes out of fear. Lack of trust that God loves me and works all things for my good is a constant struggle of mine. Sometimes, it seems easier to ignore that still small voice and act in what I think is my own best interest. 

Sometimes out of pride. The Bible says that pride leads to a fall. Boy, have I fallen. How often I fall. I insist on my way and my rights. I think of myself more highly than I ought.

And sometimes I don't know why. As the ancient teacher, Paul, wrote, "When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway." (Romans 7:19 NLT) Maybe it's just because I feel like it. The lusts of the flesh, as the Bible calls them, are comforting to me. They palliate my discontent, my boredom, or my inadequacy. 

But I also know my heart longs to be free from all the ugliness and darkness. It wants to be free from all my justification and excuses. It wants to be understood, to feel whole, to be known, and to experience love.  

I want to be free. 

And that can only come from one place, from one person. The Creator of the universe, the One who planned our days before there was even one of them, wants to know us. He longs to comfort us, to set us free, to make us whole. 

Someone took our place and paid the price of our sin for us. Jesus died so that we don't have to. When we run to Him, He sees us and embraces us and we are free. We can lay our sin at His feet and walk away new, transformed.

It's there...forgiveness. It's ours for the accepting and redemption is the result.

I'm so sorry. I have judged you. I struggle with it, still. I mistakenly and arrogantly decided that your sin was worse than mine. 

But it's not. 

All of us have sinned. None of us measures up to the perfection that is God. 

Least of all me. I'm sorry that I pretended that I did.

(In order to maintain my sanity, I will not be publishing anonymous comments to this post.)


  1. Amen, Tara!!!! beautifully written! you continue to amaze me with your transparency! love you!

  2. I understand where you're coming from with this, Tara, but I have to say that as soon as you invoke "god" and "sin," you're making assumptions about your readers that very well may not be accurate, and therefore you may be alienating them.

    I agree with you that it's highly doubtful that anyone who terminates a pregnancy - for Down syndrome or any other reason - walks away unscathed. I don't agree, however, that whatever grief or pain they experience in the aftermath has anything to do with having "sinned" or become "separated from God." If you want to reach people, you have to not speak solely from your own religious beliefs. Which, I understand, may be difficult or even impossible for you, as you may believe that you have a duty to speak from that place, but as a non-believer, I can tell you that that kind of talk alienates people who don't share your beliefs.

  3. Julie Dinkins-BorkowskiMay 8, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Powerful words and it gets you at the end. Thank you. You spoke my heart song into existence. I am not invisible. I am forgiven.

  4. I love your blog, but I have to say that it's depressing to see so much judgment right after a post in which you claim you no longer judge women who've had abortions. Clearly that is not true. Please understand that not everyone shares your religion or your beliefs about abortion; they are opinions, not objective facts. There is no universal experience when it comes to abortion. Some women grieve heavily; some never do. My mother had an abortion when she was 18. We have talked about it, and she has no grief, no sadness, no regrets. If it weren't for that abortion, my sister and I never would have been born. My mother never would have become a teacher and touched so many lives. I am glad she had an abortion, and grateful that it was, and still is, an option in this country.

    I, like you, am deeply upset by the high abortion rate after a prenatal diagnosis of T21. I believe that eradicating the stigma of Down syndrome would significantly reduce this number. However, like the (extremely polite, articulate, and thoughtful) anonymous commenter on your last post pointed out, sometimes a woman will have the best information, weigh their options, and make a choice with which you disagree. That is their right. It doesn't make them broken. It doesn't make them murderers. Their lives are not ruined - just different from yours. And please remember that we are all more alike than different, no matter our chromosome count, political beliefs, or deeply personal choices.

    Your boys are beautiful, and I wish you the best of luck in raising them. I know there are wonderful things in store for your family. :)

  5. Tara, I think this is fantastic. What an amazing reminder to put away our stupid pride and give the glory to God.

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  7. I normally do not post on blogs, but I feel I must in this case. My precious baby boy was diagnosed with T21 (along with very strong indicators for severe physical issues including a significant heart defect) at 12 weeks and positively confirmed via CVS at 13 weeks. Our doctors never gave us a glimmer of hope and were extremely doubtful he would even make it to term. All I kept hearing was "don't be surprised if there isn't a heartbeat at your next appointment."

    We were heartbroken and in total agony. He was our first, very much wanted and planned baby. We had to make an impossible decision. We really struggled, but in the end, we had to do what was right for our baby. We were not prepared to carry him until he died or watch him suffer and die in front of our eyes in the hospital. He deserved more than that, so we decided to set him free at 14 weeks.

    I know many women carry T21 babies to term who grow up to be amazing children. May God bless them. Our baby, being diagnosed so early, did not have those odds in his favour and was severely affected.

    I do not regret our decision as it was made out of extreme love and mercy. I am not a terribly religious person (although I grew up in the Orthodox church), but I believe very strongly in God. I spoke to my priest a month after our angel's birth as I wanted to say prayers for my baby.

    Since you have quoted the Bible and feel very strongly about your views, I will share with you the words of my priest that will perhaps give you another perspective. You, being Serbian (as your "about me" states), would know how strict the Orthodox church is and how seriously they take their teachings. With the Bible and Cross in hand, in front of the altar, he said to me, that since our doctors gave us no hope, we did the right and merciful thing by setting our baby free. He also said for us to knowingly bring a very sick child into the world (if he'd make it to term) just to die was not God's wishes for us and a sin. He prayed for my healing and asked God to bless me with a healthy baby in the future.

    This is only MY experience as I had a very sick baby. I do not pass judgment on anyone who carried to term or chose not to for various reasons. Each mother knows in her heart what is best for her baby.

    Some babies come to us for life and others for mercy. Mine came for the latter. I feel his spirit with me constantly and I know he is happy and at peace.

    Life can be cruel and while some mothers are blessed, others are not. God is merciful and loving and He does not throw stones at mothers, so neither should you.