By Carol Tobias, President
In his literary masterpiece, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens writes, “…It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child himself.”
Christmas does seem to be extra special for children. There is excitement in the air; they get parts in school and church programs; they wonder what special gifts will be under the Christmas tree for them.
But, as every pro-lifer knows, not every child gets to experience those delights.
The outlines of Dickens’ classic are known to almost everyone. The miserly Scrooge is shown his past, present, and future by various spirits on Christmas Eve.
The spirit of Christmas present shows Scrooge and the home and family of his clerk Bob Cratchit. The reader is introduced to Cratchit’s son, Tim, who is sick and uses a crutch. The family can’t afford to get him the help he needs.
As the spirit of Christmas future shows Scrooge what will happen if nothing changes, we find out that Tiny Tim doesn’t survive.
I was reminded of this story when I read news articles about Alfie Evans, an 18-month-old boy in the United Kingdom (UK).
Alfie is not terminally ill but has been unconscious for a year with a mysterious brain condition. A hospital in Italy is willing to take Alfie as a patient to continue seeking a diagnosis, but the British hospital is refusing the transfer and wants to end life support.
On New Year’s Eve 2016, doctors told the family Alfie only had a couple of hours to live, but he proved them wrong. Alfie’s parents say they are in a living nightmare; that the hospital has applied to the High Court to remove parental rights and withdraw ventilation to end Alfie’s life.
There have been many comparisons to Charlie Gard, a baby who was in the Great Ormond Street Hospital, another UK hospital. Charlie’s parents wanted to take him to the United States to another medical provider willing to care for him. However, tragically, the Great Ormond Street Hospital prevailed and Charlie died.
We’ve had similar cases right here in the U.S where “quality of life” issues surfaced. In 2010, Simon Crosier was born with a bilateral cleft lip. Although a serious condition, such cases can and have been successfully addressed with surgery and treatment.
However, because Simon was also diagnosed with Full Trisomy 18, his medical providers refused to treat him and, without parental approval, gave him comfort food (to keep him comfortable while starving him), placed a DNR order on his chart, and turned off his monitor. Simon died just before his three-month birthday.
One of the “feel good” results of Scrooge making a drastic turnabout in his life is that he helped Tiny Tim get the care he needed. The two became very close and Dickens writes that Scrooge became “a second father.”
I don’t know what treatment and medical care Tiny Tim presumably received in the story but medical advancements have made it possible for boys (and girls) like Tiny Tim to get the kind of health care Charles Dickens could maybe not even have imagined in 1843.
Unfortunately, in today’s culture, that treatment is readily withheld based on someone’s perception that the person involved has no value and, in fact, would be better off dead.
When I think of the 60 million unborn babies aborted in our country; when I reflect on the decisions made to end the lives of babies like Charlie and Simon, and now maybe Alfie, I wonder why so many in society are afraid of babies, born and unborn. How did they become the enemy?
Then I think of all the amazing effort being put into changing our culture by you and millions of pro-lifers working on behalf of these innocent little ones. Through education and legislation, you seek to raise awareness on behalf of those with different challenges, whether it be a cleft lip/palate or a trisomy difference.
You work tirelessly to elect candidates and pass legislation to protect unborn children. You work to educate your communities about how precious are the lives of the vulnerable ones. You work with abortion-minded pregnant mothers to recognize the gift of life. You desire no less to safeguard the elderly and those with disabilities from euthanasia and assisted suicide.
I can honestly say I have never met in the right-to-life movement an example of the Scrooge who existed before he was visited by the three spirits. I have, however, met innumerable pro-lifers who embody the renewed Scrooge– people whose lives are filled with joy; people who love those around them and who are determined to reflect an attitude of respect for other human beings.
The center of Christmas was a child Himself. We recognize the precious gift of life and, to Christians, His gift of salvation. I thank God every time I think of you and how you use your time and talents to defend Life.
After his transformation, it was said of Scrooge that he knew how to keep Christmas well. As Dickens ends the story, “May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”