Sunny Side of The Stream: These Families Chose Life Despite Deadly Diagnosis

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on December 16, 2023

This week the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the life of the unborn daughter of Kate Cox, a woman who was seeking permission to abort her daughter. The Texas Supreme Court decided that her case did not meet the qualifications for an exemption to Texas’ abortion ban. Sadly, Cox left the state to seek an abortion after losing her case.

If you want to know more about Cox’s case from a pro-life perspective, this article from Live Action is helpful. It addresses the claim that an abortion was medically necessary for Cox, a claim the Texas Supreme Court found to be false.

Trisomy 18

Cox’s daughter was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome, a life-limiting genetic disorder that is often fatal. It’s not to be confused with the more commonly known Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome. Like Trisomy 21, Trisomy 18 has an extra (third) chromosome, but the extra chromosome is the 18th rather than the 21st. T18, which Cox’s daughter was diagnosed with, is far more deadly and limiting than T21. Babies with both diagnoses, as well as many other genetic conditions, face high rates of selective abortion.

The mother of Harper, the girl with T18 in this video, says that parents of children with T18 can have a difficult time finding hospitals that are willing to provide “full intervention.” In other words, most hospitals aren’t willing to give the same level of care to a child with T18 that they would give a genetically normal child because they don’t think the child with T18 is likely to live. “There are many children that we know of that have been flat out denied even basic, basic human rights like a feeding tube to help them eat or a little bit of oxygen if they needed it and these families were forced to take these kiddos home to die.”

An Opportunity to Love Selflessly

As I researched this case and this condition, I found that there are sweet stories of life, hope, loss and love with Trisomy 18. A takeaway is the power of life, however brief or disabled, to impact families with the opportunity to give themselves in love. There’s a beauty in the hearts of these people who choose the path of life and love. It’s a bit mysterious how a person who seems to primarily offer an opportunity to love and to meet needs can give so much.

Megan

One woman with Trisomy 18, Megan Hayes, is 40 years old — the oldest known person with the condition in the U.S. and the second oldest in the world. She appears to be severely disabled and non verbal. In a video by a local news station, her parents clearly love her and she clearly loves them. Her father tickles her chin and she laughs. Later he puts his head close to her, and she reaches up to hold his head.

Darcy

I searched YouTube and found many more stories of families whose lives have been touched by a child with this disorder. In one powerful video, a couple talks about their experience parenting their daughter Darcy, who lived after birth for 15 days, and how caring for her drew them closer to God. In a final quote in the film, the camera is on baby Darcy as her father says, “You are our little visitor from heaven. You gave us a message, and it’s been delivered quite clearly. When you go up to Heaven, you go thank Jesus for us, okay?”

Tabitha

In another video, a local church interviews a couple in their congregation about their experience of choosing life for their daughter, Tabitha. Jessica LaHousse, Tabitha’s mother, has written a book about Tabitha called, “Indescribable Beauty, Immeasurable Worth: The Heart of God Revealed Through a Baby With a Life-limiting Diagnosis.”

One thing that stands out in the video is the support Tabitha’s family received from their church. Jessica says that their church congregants brought them meals both when Tabitha was born and when she came home from the NICU four and a half months later. Their neighbors and fellow church members also put on a parade to welcome Tabitha home from the NICU instead of having closer contact, since she arrived home during a time of societal concern about COVID. I’m glad to hear that the LaHousse family experienced support from their community.

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Tabitha was born Feb. 20, 2020, and her mother Jessica’s latest Instagram post from Halloween shows her alive and well with her two older brothers and one younger sister, dressed up as a skunk. So she’ll be 4 in a few months.

Jessica says of her three children (their fourth wasn’t born yet), Tabitha has been her happiest baby, despite all she’s been through.

Jessica describes in the video how she believes Tabitha will impact her older brothers and shares a powerful thought: “Our boys are going to be hopefully better men for having this experience with their little sister — more loving and loyal and compassionate and all of those things that we’ve always been praying for that our kids would be. So in a way I feel like she’s kind of a God-style answer to those prayers.”

Jessica wants her children to be loving, loyal and compassionate, and she believes loving their sister Tabitha will expand their hearts.

One of Jessica’s Instagram posts has a picture of Tabitha and the words, “Love Doesn’t Count Chromosomes.” But does an extra chromosome and the resulting extra care develop more love in the people who willingly provide it?

I hope that as the stories of families like these spread, parents facing difficult prenatal diagnoses will be inspired to open their hearts to their children and choose life for their babies regardless of disability. And that families facing prenatal diagnoses will experience support, prayer and love from those around them, especially from the body of Christ.

 

Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on X @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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