Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Image credit: CNN/Getty

Yesterday, at a paid speech to an anti-abortion group in Houston, Sarah Palin said, "every child has purpose." This is in reference to her giving birth, at age 43, to Trig, her Down's Syndrome-suffering son.

Well, I would argue that before we go purposing our unborn children, we ought to think about women having choice so that their children don't end up getting repurposed. And possibly miserably so.

First things first. I'm glad Ms. Palin loves her son. It was certainly her choice to have him. I do, however, wonder what his life will be when he is a 40 year old, still fully dependent Down's Syndrome adult and she's 83. I hope she'll be able to take good care of him and plan for his future without her, because that's the one issue that should be apparent (is that a pun?) in the choice of going ahead with having a Down's child when you're age 43. That child is going to be a child for his or her entire life. Who will take care of your 40 year old child when you are gone? Will they do so kindly? I don't know about you, but I really try to think about the longterm when making commitments to living, feeling beings. Whether it's a cat, or a child or a spouse. But, especially, the dependent-on-me for their entire will-have-to-cared-for existence? Yeah, time to think mighty carefully. But perhaps Ms. Palin has. I'm sure Bristol and her siblings will happily continue to nurture Trig. Well, mostly sure.

If I were in Ms. Palin's shoes, pregnant with a Down's baby, I would have made a different choice. Because of my age, my family and my health. And I think I should have the right to make that choice. Because I don't want to be having any babies that I can't assure will have a good shot at a long, happy and healthy life. I believe that I should have the right to make that choice, with my husband, and that Ms. Palin and her anti-abortion fanatics should not be making it for me. Because if anything happens to my husband and me, they are not going to be helping care for my Down's adult offspring. They will, in fact, in all likelihood be the ones advocating for slashing social service budgets that would care for my disabled adult/child.

But, beyond those issues, I am deeply troubled by this idea that every child has purpose. A purpose for whom

For the parent? For the child herself/himself?

In a ideal world, with a loving parent or two parents, or however many parents, sure, that child's life is filled with hope and purpose. That's called family planning and part of planning is making choices. In actual fact, the initial purpose of a child comes in making the choice of having one. Because that choice is a promise that the child is a wanted child, who will be loved and nutured. Ms. Palin's artful assumption of purpose is that every child is wanted, or if the choice is made to keep a somehow unexpected pregnancy, that the child will emerge into a world in which he or she is wanted, loved, and nurtured toward finding their own purpose in the world at large. That's a gift and sadly, not as many children as you'd think get to have that gift.

I have dealt enough with Guardian ad Litem kids who have been in foster care their entire damn lives to question the whole "purpose" plan. Because many of them, after living in dozens of homes and with no one who really cares for them, do not feel filled with purpose. They feel empty, unwanted, alienated and in some cases, downright feral.

Ms. Palin, said:

 "every child has purpose and there is destiny in every innocent life and there is support out there and you're not alone and yes you're capable of handling this. And God won't give you something that you can't handle. That's what I held onto."

Who is going to support and keep so many children out there from feeling, and in fact, being alone?

Because I can tell you, I've met more than a few who feel that her God clearly gave their mothers more than they could handle. And the State of Florida agreed with them. I've got three at my hands right now who were born in foster care and spent 18 years that way. What purpose was there in that, Sarah Palin?

If Ms. Palin would like to stop by Florida and adopt any of our State's kids, while they're still kids and maybe have some trace or hope of childhood in them, I would think that would be a good and purpose-driven choice.

In the meantime, I'm holding onto my choices and hoping that religion in this country doesn't overtake reason.

But if it does, then all those swell people who believe the same as Sarah should go right here

and start helping all these children find their purpose. There are 550 children waiting.

Step right up.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

1 comment:

  1. And finally, the *only* man in Minnesota who says there is no God has suddenly become an arbiter on mental health...