The above is a picture of my third son and sixth child Abraham Rodney Chrisman. It was taken on June 28, 2010, just after he was born. He and his mother are doing great, and he is a blessed addition to our family, a true gift from the Lord. (You can read my wife’s blog post about him here.)
Sadly, in much of America, Abraham would have never lived to be captured in a photo like the one above. You see, when my wife was early in her pregnancy, a test revealed that she had elevated AFP levels in her blood. Stating it very simply, this meant that there was a heightened risk of birth defects and other problems with the baby or the pregnancy. One of the common birth defects discovered via this test is spina bifida. (For more information on spina bifida, visit the Spina Bifida Association here. As you will see there, spina bifida cases range from no problems at all to rather severe handicaps.)
Why do I say that he would have never lived to have his picture taken? Because, in modern America, we have declared war on unborn babies with birth defects like Down syndrome and spina bifida. When tests show a heightened risk for these conditions, huge numbers of Americans, often on the advice of medical professionals, now opt to abort (murder) the babies. Albert Mohler has some great materials about this on his website here and here.
In fact, upon discovering the test results, our doctor in Lynchburg scheduled us an appointment with a high-risk OB practice at the University of Virginia Medical Center. We were not encouraged to get an abortion there; however, before my wife even saw a doctor, she was required to meet with a counselor who appeared to be heading that direction. She was very dour, somber, and hopeless. When she saw the relative calm of my wife, she inquired as to whether my wife understood exactly how serious this is and how bad it could be. My wife said that she did and that under no circumstances would we consider an abortion. (If you are wondering where I was during all of this, I was parking the van and getting the other five up to the waiting room so that I could join her.)
After I joined her and we saw the ultrasound technician and ultimately the doctor, we were able to testify that we would welcome the baby into our family as a special blessing from God prepared just for us, regardless of whether he had a handicap. To their credit at the OB practice there, once they saw our commitment to our worldview with regard to children and life, they never even so much as ventured in the direction of abortion talk again. (But, the original counselor was still very serious and somber even after the ultrasound showed that everything was fine, her face being more appropriate for a funeral than a birth.)
Several more ultrasounds showed nothing to worry about, and we were eventually discharged from the care of the high-risk OB group. Abraham Rodney was eventually born on June 28, 2010, at 9:08 a.m. He was a little bitty guy compared to our others at only 5 pounds and 11 ounces, but he is eating and growing and doing great. He is a special gift from God prepared just for our family. May God give us many more.
Finally, he is also a living reminder of a battle going on in our culture–a battle between the idea of the goodness of children, all children not just “healthy” ones, and the culture of death. The battlegrounds for this conflict are many, but one particular battleground is in the most sacred of places. The place where God weaves together the tiny body for the new little soul–the womb (Ps. 139). In America, ever more frequently this battle proves fatal for that new life. It is a battle that we as Christians cannot ignore. We must celebrate the goodness of all children, and we must encourage those among us to choose life, even if that life does not meet our subjective and often selfish standards of perfection.