I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to follow the Lausanne Conversation on giving the love of Christ to people with disabilities and their families. Your concern on this issue is of paramount importance. I remember reading a jarring headline back in 1982: a Down syndrome infant with mild complications was starved to death in a Midwest hospital. I was shocked to read that the Supreme Court of Indiana upheld the parents’ right to euthanize their child. I thought, Then the life of every disabled person is in jeopardy!
I shouldn’t have been surprised – our nation was experiencing the repercussions of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. We were warned then that legalized abortion would result in dismantling the safeguards around the elderly and people with disabilities. And it’s worse today: Pregnant women are now routinely given the test to determine if they are carrying a child with chromosomal abnormalities. The result? In 2012, more than 90% of pregnant women carrying an unborn baby with DS choose to abort.
Once an attack on life is launched, it is frightening how quickly people with disabilities are targeted. This is why I hope that this week, you will take time to become informed on how the erosion of life value is jeopardizing the lives of the weak and infirmed. In this edition of the Lausanne Conversation, we are focusing on the recent and most dangerous challenges to the sanctity of life – it’s information you need to know! So please make use of the resources we’ve listed here:
- First is a two-part television episode Joni and Friends produced on the life of Terri Schiavo. As a young married woman, Terri suffered a severely debilitating injury to her brain. After a long court battle, judges ordered Terri’s life supports to be removed – she died of starvation and dehydration, and her only crime was her disability.
- Next, please take a moment to read the transcript of “Euthanasia,” a radio program I recorded for our ministry; also, read our posted article “Seth is a Perfect Child.” The point? We don’t always learn lessons from history – many of the same mistakes are repeated from some of our world’s worst horrors.
- Finally, please visit the multimedia presentation, “Useless Eaters.” This slide presentation and interview is deeply moving, adding a “face” to the dangers of euthanasia. There are even laws in Oregon, Washington, and in the Netherlands that legalize physician-assisted suicide.
(Editor’s note – Stay tuned for updates to these links in the next week…)
As a follower of Jesus, I know you care about the weak and vulnerable. For when their rights become eroded, the rights of all of us can become questioned. Life is precious and Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life, the Word of Life, and the Resurrection and the Life has commanded us to treat every person – no matter how disabled or elderly – with dignity and respect. People with disabilities, no matter how profound their intellectual or physical impairment, are created in the image of God. Join us in rescuing the weak and needy (Psalm 82:4)!
Links and Resources
Joni and Friends is an advocate for the sanctity of human life. To that end, Joni and Friends has established a key department, The Christian Institute on Disability (CID).
To find out more about disability ministry or to get involved, visit the Joni and Friends website.
The Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends aggressively promotes life, human dignity and the value of all individuals – despite their disabling condition–from a biblical perspective through the Beyond Suffering course.
Joni Eareckson Tada is the founder of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, a nonprofit ministry with a global outreach. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Since then, Joni’s wisdom and influence have been shared with the world through bestselling books, radio programs, television programs and frequent speaking. Her radio program is carried by over 1,000 broadcast outlets and heard by over a million listeners. Joni is also an accomplished artist and singer. She has served on the National Council on Disability and the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department.