Celebrate the Sanctity of All Human Life

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In my role as director of CRC Disability Concerns, I have the privilege of corresponding and talking with a lot of really great people from across North America. Many of them serve as Regional and Church Disability Advocates in Christian Reformed Churches. This morning I received an email and had a conversation with Kristin DeKock who is the Church Advocate at Messiah CRC in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Kristin DeKock and her church are preparing for a celebration of “Sanctity of Life” this coming Sunday. Many churches in the United States do so this time of year because January 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Kristin told me that they will have a dual emphasis at Messiah this coming Sunday: “tying in those who are at risk of being judged as ‘not contributing to society’ as well as the unborn.”

Many societies, not just U.S. and Canadian, impart differing values to people depending on how useful they seem to be to the society. Many people view an unwanted unborn child and a person with a disability through the same lens. They are useless and should be extinguished, either actively through abortion/euthanasia or indirectly through lack of necessary support for an adult living with a disability. Unborn children with disabilities are especially at risk; latest estimates reveal that 90 percent of children with Down syndrome are aborted in the U.S. and in Canada.

This utilitarian view of people ignores the biblical principle that all people bear the image of God, and therefore all human life is sacred. As we celebrate the value of the unborn in our own ways in the U.S. and Canada, likewise we need to make sure that we celebrate the lives of the already born too, including those, as Kristin says, are “judged as ‘not contributing to society.’” God's word speaks the truth about the value of each life: "Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable." (I Corinthians 12:22)

How has your church celebrated the sanctity of life?

Update (April 30, 2015): Although the abortion of any child with Down syndrome, solely because the child has Down syndrome, is always a tragic loss, a new study indicates that the reported 90 abortion rate of children with DS may be grossly exaggerated. That study found, "For the U.S., as a whole, an estimated 30% of fetuses with DS were selectively terminated in recent years, more or less stable since 1996." In addition, researchers found that ethnicity of parents dramatically affected the elective abortion rate of children whom prenatal testing showed that they had DS: "Reduction percentage estimates turn out to differ greatly by race/ethnic group—highest for Asians/Pacific Islanders (61%), followed by non-Hispanic whites (39%), non-Hispanic blacks/Africans (27%), Hispanics (18%), and American Indians (16%)." (Source: de Graaf G, Buckley F, Skotko BG. 2015. Estimates of the live births, natural losses, and elective terminations with down syndrome in the United States. Am J Med Genet Part A 167A:756–767.)

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