Facebook reverses course, ends ban on photos of baby born with rare neural disease

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. Dr. Peter Saunders wrote a wonderful column on anencephaly and abortion which we are reprinting. (See “Defending the ‘indefensible’? Twenty reasons to think twice about aborting a baby with anencephaly.”) We ran this story in May of 2012 which explains how important it is for everyone that parents facing prenatal diagnoses of a terminal disease take care of their baby all the way up through the delivery and whatever brief time they have together.

Patrick, Heather, and Grayson Walker

Patrick, Heather, and Grayson Walker

Yesterday I posted a story about the beauty, the humanity of perinatal hospice: choosing not to abort a child expected to die soon after birth but to give the child life—and celebrate that life–for whatever time he or she is given.

No sooner did the story post than a reader sent me an amazing story (in both a good and a bad sense) about Grayson James Walker.

His Tennessee parents, Heather and Patrick Walker, knew from 16 weeks onward that Grayson suffered from anencephaly, a rare neural tube disease in which the child is born without parts of the brain and skull.

It is invariably fatal and Grayson lived for only eight hours after being born February 15.

But to the couple, Grayson was part of their family whose live should be remembered and celebrated. Assisted by the non-profit organization, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” the Walkers were able to have a professional photographer come in to capture the hours they had with their son.

The ugly part of their story came when Heather Walker posted photos on Facebook—some with and some without a cap on Grayson’s head.

The Daily News reported this week that at that point Facebook began deleting the pictures. When Heather reposted the photos, Facebook temporarily banned her from Facebook!

“But when hundreds of people shared Grayson’s photos at the Benefit for Grayson James Walker page, Facebook saw the error of its way and posted an apology.

“Upon investigation, we concluded the photo does not violate our guidelines and was removed in error. Facebook is a place where almost a billion people share more than 300 million photos a day. (…) occasionally, we make a mistake and remove a piece of content we shouldn’t have. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”

But the Facebook controversy should not overcome the courage and faith that the Walkers displayed. Station KCTV5 ran a beautiful story headlined “Faith helps Mid-South family prepare for newborn’s 8 hours of life.”

The story notes that “of course” the Walkers were given “the option to terminate.” But instead they chose to carry Grayson to full term, praying with confidence for strength and guidance. I will not spoil the story by going into too much detail.

The story ends with a powerful source of encouragement:

“By treating his birth like any other special delivery, the Walkers hope to keep Grayson’s memory alive forever.

“’Yes, I’m going to cry and I’m probably going to lay in my bed some days, but I have that hope that God has got him in his hands and we’re going to get to meet him again someday,’ said Heather Walker.

“’You know, my son lived almost eight hours, and he’s already done in eight hours what I could never do in a hundred lifetimes, and that’s awesome,’ said Patrick Walker.”

The full story appears here.