By Nancy Flanders
Cystic fibrosis (CF) has been in the news a lot lately, mostly because of a little girl named Sarah and her mom Janet and how they changed the transplant rules for children. Also because of new drug therapies that are paving the way to giving people with CF a normal life expectancy. And finally, because a large amount of babies diagnosed with CF are aborted. Some statistics point to over 90%. That’s heartbreaking to me. I’m the mom of a little girl with cystic fibrosis.
Many adults with CF will gladly step up and say that they in no way support the abortion of a child because of a diagnosis of CF. They proudly proclaim that their lives have been worth living, CF or not. They are the ones we should listen to very carefully in this particular abortion debate. They know better than anyone because they have been living every single day of their lives with CF. One such person is Mandy Anderson.
Mandy is a remarkable person. Her parents were told not to expect her to live long enough to graduate from high school. In fact, doctors told them it would be a “miracle” if that happened. Today, Mandy is 32-years-old. And while her health has suffered at times, she lives an amazing life. She’s married. She owns her own business. And she is devoted to helping others live the healthiest, best life possible.
Recently, Mandy wrote a letter to parents who are learning their unborn child has CF. Her words brought tears to my eyes. Mandy is full of hope and love and she manages to send that hope and love right through the computer screen with her words. You must read the entire letter.
Before Mandy speaks to the parents facing a new diagnosis, she offers forgiveness and hope to parents who have already aborted their child because of CF. Parents like Addie Morfoot. She tells them that their child forgives them, and she hopes one day they can forgive themselves as well. This is important. Because if anyone understands the pain and regret of aborting a child, especially a child who was planned and very much wanted, its parents like Addie Morfoot. They need love, forgiveness, and support, not judgement. Mandy writes:
I know the pain of losing a child you never got to hold because I had a very early miscarriage. And while they aren’t the same cause of loss, the hollow ache that never really goes away when your arms are empty of the baby you love so much…that’s a pain I wouldn’t wish upon anyone; I wouldn’t choose that. CF is manageable; however, that hollow emptiness can devour you. So embrace forgiveness.
Mandy says in the letter that at one point in her life, her lung function dropped to 22%. This is usually when doctors start talking about a lung transplant. Mandy, with determination, was able to work hard to get her lung function back up to 74% but she had this to say:
[…] if I’d have had to live my entire life with only 22% lung functions, struggling to breathe, I’d still want to live it. I’d still want the chance to love my parents, meet them, get to know them, feel their warmth and comfort, and experience this beautiful world that God created. Because life is always worth living. […]It’s not impossible to live life with this disease. It’s not even a struggle – IF you choose to see it that way.
Life is always worth living – even with a health condition. Even when you are told that you won’t live to be an adult, life is always worth living. No one is guaranteed even one year on this planet. Most of us will take what we can get and live each day to the fullest. But that is a choice each of us makes – live with hope and determination or choose to see only the negative. Our attitude makes all the difference.
Mandy goes on to reiterate how happy she is to be alive. She talks about how grateful she is that her parents didn’t see abortion as a right or choice or a way to fix that their child had CF. She credits them with having the ability to teach her how to live life with a positive outlook.
When an unborn child is diagnosed with a condition such as CF, many parents are so blindsided by the news that they don’t know what to do. Doctors are often quick to offer the “solution” of abortion. But what parents really need is time to absorb the information and talk to CF care specialists. It is also beneficial to talk to families and people who live with CF. This doesn’t just go for babies diagnosed with CF, but for babies diagnosed with any condition. The doctors making the diagnosis are not the experts, so be sure to find one to talk to immediately. And be sure to find someone like Mandy to talk to as well.
As Mandy says:
Choose life and hold that precious baby in your arms, reassuring her that she matters, no matter what.
Editor’s note. Nancy is a work at home mom who writes about parenting, special needs children, and the right to life. She is the lucky mother of three spirited little girls, one who has cystic fibrosis, and she spends any free moment she can find fundraising for a cure for CF. This appeared at liveactionnews.org.