Monday, January 25, 2016

Cooperating with an Act of God: The Historic #TurnpikeMass

Courtesy of Roamin' Catholics.
As the mother of a young lady of 13 who has Down syndrome, I am accustomed to seeing how God's ways are far above our ways. Many times we have stood in awe at what Our Lord accomplishes in our life with our daughter Christina in the privacy of our Domestic Church. That is why I share our little miracles with you, dear reader, to inspire you.
 But sometimes God allows an act of faith to go public. 
That is the case of the now famous Turnpike Mass widely reported, first on social media, then picked up by major news outlets like CNN. Hundreds if not thousands of March for Life participants, most of them youth, were stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the rural and rugged Allegheny Mountains region. They did not move for nearly 24 hours and for some, food was growing scarce and help seemed far away. What did these on-fire Catholic Millenials do? They built an altar out of snow and ice and asked their chaplain, Fr Patrick Behm,  to celebrate Holy Mass. 
Fr Behm tried to deflect attention from himself and told the website Church Pop.
 “I was the principal celebrant of the liturgy,” he said, “but credit for the idea, and credit for building the altar, and credit for going around to the various buses inviting people to join them belongs completely to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, particularly Mr. Bill Dill, their youth minister.”
It was those students from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who built the snow altar: “Those Minnesotans apparently know how to build stuff out of snow!”
The now famous Mass was a powerful spiritual experience for Fr. Behm and everyone else involved.
“It left me with many impressions, but among them was the fact that Jesus enters into the storm. Jesus comes to us, in the storms of our life, and enters in to be with us. He desires to be with His people, and if we respond to this invitation to let Him in, then the message is profound hope and joy.”

The story of the Mass went viral on Facebook then Twitter, and soon local news outlets were reporting not only about the stranded students but that they were coming from the March for Life and that they were praying with exuberance. So,  a secular media which had largely ignored the enormous annual March for Life which took place despite DC being in a state of emergency and blizzard conditions starting before the end of the March, began to cover the #TurnpikeMass, and tangentially,  the #MarchforLife. God's mysterious ways indeed!  It is told that a bus driver stranded with the young people who has participated in an abortion received forgiveness and healing.

Way to cooperate with the Lord of the Universerse, through what is often termed, "an act of God", a blizzard. The Holy Spirit truly acted in the hearts of his youthful worshipers, and made a big impact on the world! Thousands were witness to a moving act of faith in the snowbound mountains of Pennsylvania. Thousands call this a historic event. When we allow God to work in the midst of a crisis,  history is made and hearts are changed for eternity. This sentiment is echoed in a letter from FUS President Fr. Sean Sheridan TOR.
Most of all, however, I am grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for the good that came out of our situation—the increased media attention brought to the March for Life, the bus driver with another group of marchers who was healed of a past abortion, the witness of the outdoor Masses celebrated by two parishes—and for the good that we will only see in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, or only when we enter into our heavenly reward.

Watch this moving video from Holy Spirit Church as the crowd sings Matt Maher's "Lord, How I Need You!"
The lyrics are;

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

On a personal note
My daughter Bella was one of the 400 students of Franciscan University of Steubenville who were traveling back from the March for Life. These buses  were stuck a few miles down the Turnpike were not as fortunate as the pilgrims from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin,  and North Dakota,  as their chaplains did not have hosts for Mass. But that did not stop them from praying!! They built and altar anyway and prayed the Rosary Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Liturgy of the Hours. Attitudes on the bus, according to my 18 year old daughter Bella, were mostly positive. The students shared the snacks they brought and kept each other from despairing.
Parents on the FUS Facebook group shared messages of encouragement,  and Mariely M de G a parent who lives in Steubenville, arranged for subway sandwiches to be delivered to the group. The National Guard brought in pizza, and military meals, and dug them out. The students were very grateful for the assistance they provided and to return home at 7:00 AM Sunday morning after nearly 40 hours on the road (normally a 6 hour trip). They had a special Travelers' Mass offered for them in Christ the King Chapel. Here is a local news story about their safe return from the ordeal.

Renee of New Catholic Generation.com made a video about the entire phenomenon and its impact.

Here are some more great stories about the Turnpike Mass.
Patti Armstrong.com
Archdiocese of Omaha
Omaha.com
JournalStar.com
KTSP Minnesota
The Christian Post
LifeSiteNews
CatholicNewsAgency
TheCatholicSpirit
DeaconGregKandra on his Aleteia Blog
Not to mention Teresa Tomeo and Sheila Liaugminas of Relevant Radio
The New York Times


He couldn’t claim credit for the idea of having Mass: “I was the principal celebrant of the liturgy,” he said, “but credit for the idea, and credit for building the altar, and credit for going around to the various buses inviting people to join them belongs completely to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, particularly Mr. Bill Dill, their youth minister.”
It was those students from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who built the snow altar: “Those Minnesotans apparently know how to build stuff out of snow!”
The now famous Mass was a powerful spiritual experience for Fr. Behm and everyone else involved.
“It left me with many impressions, but among them was the fact that Jesus enters into the storm. Jesus comes to us, in the storms of our life, and enters in to be with us. He desires to be with His people, and if we respond to this invitation to let Him in, then the message is profound hope and joy.
- See more at: http://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/the-story-behind-the-turnpike-mass-of-snowmageddon-from-the-priest-who-led-it/#sthash.I1ozbkiE.wlkdchCL.dpuf
He couldn’t claim credit for the idea of having Mass: “I was the principal celebrant of the liturgy,” he said, “but credit for the idea, and credit for building the altar, and credit for going around to the various buses inviting people to join them belongs completely to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, particularly Mr. Bill Dill, their youth minister.”
It was those students from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who built the snow altar: “Those Minnesotans apparently know how to build stuff out of snow!”
The now famous Mass was a powerful spiritual experience for Fr. Behm and everyone else involved.
“It left me with many impressions, but among them was the fact that Jesus enters into the storm. Jesus comes to us, in the storms of our life, and enters in to be with us. He desires to be with His people, and if we respond to this invitation to let Him in, then the message is profound hope and joy.
- See more at: http://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/the-story-behind-the-turnpike-mass-of-snowmageddon-from-the-priest-who-led-it/#sthash.I1ozbkiE.wlkdchCL.dpuf
He couldn’t claim credit for the idea of having Mass: “I was the principal celebrant of the liturgy,” he said, “but credit for the idea, and credit for building the altar, and credit for going around to the various buses inviting people to join them belongs completely to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, particularly Mr. Bill Dill, their youth minister.”
It was those students from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who built the snow altar: “Those Minnesotans apparently know how to build stuff out of snow!”
The now famous Mass was a powerful spiritual experience for Fr. Behm and everyone else involved.
“It left me with many impressions, but among them was the fact that Jesus enters into the storm. Jesus comes to us, in the storms of our life, and enters in to be with us. He desires to be with His people, and if we respond to this invitation to let Him in, then the message is profound hope and joy.
- See more at: http://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/the-story-behind-the-turnpike-mass-of-snowmageddon-from-the-priest-who-led-it/#sthash.I1ozbkiE.wlkdchCL.dpuf
He couldn’t claim credit for the idea of having Mass: “I was the principal celebrant of the liturgy,” he said, “but credit for the idea, and credit for building the altar, and credit for going around to the various buses inviting people to join them belongs completely to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, particularly Mr. Bill Dill, their youth minister.”
It was those students from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who built the snow altar: “Those Minnesotans apparently know how to build stuff out of snow!”
The now famous Mass was a powerful spiritual experience for Fr. Behm and everyone else involved.
“It left me with many impressions, but among them was the fact that Jesus enters into the storm. Jesus comes to us, in the storms of our life, and enters in to be with us. He desires to be with His people, and if we respond to this invitation to let Him in, then the message is profound hope and joy.
- See more at: http://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/the-story-behind-the-turnpike-mass-of-snowmageddon-from-the-priest-who-led-it/#sthash.I1ozbkiE.wlkdchCL.dpuf

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nurturing Your Vocation to Special Motherhood

Refresh your soul and renew your vocation as a special mother!
Come away for two days and be transformed though prayer, the sacraments, inspiring talks, and fellowship with other mothers raising children with special needs. Learn how God has called you to the vocation of special motherhood.


Leticia Velasquez is the editor of A Special Mother is Born; 33 stories from Catholic parents of special needs children. She is a public speaker who has appeared on EWTN and co-founded KIDS Keep Infants with Down syndrome.


Location: St. Edmund’s Retreat Center, Ender’s Island, Mystic, CT
Cost: $120 shared, $150 private room
 
Contact Tracie Georgetti for more details
Phone: (860) 536-0565 ext. 167
Email: programs@endersisland.com



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Born to be Stars; The Charm of "Born This Way"

My family and I watched the first episode of "Born This Way" today. Its the new A&E reality show about a social group of young adults with Down syndrome in Los Angeles. These young people bowl together, eat out, hang out, and listen to music together as they go through the typical self-discovery process of anyone their ages. They compare the celebrities they have met in nearby Hollywood and fawn over the new girl in town.They skype their boyfriends and roll their eyes over protective parents, dreaming of a place of their own.

As the mom of a 13 year old girl with Down syndrome, I was very likely to appreciate seeing independent and happy young adults with Down syndrome do almost anything on TV. Yet, I found that the program was satisfying in more ways than that. It was a truly groundbreaking event of community education and,  hopefully, involvement. 

I think acknowledging that those with intellectual disabilities have hopes, dreams and, even, gasp, love lives. is enlightening to many viewers who tend to see our kids as mascots or worse, objects of ridicule. Even when the dreams seem as unrealistic as Megan's dream of being a film star (why not, she's already featured in a TV show?) the young people in this show quickly capture the viewers' hearts with their bone-crushing hugs, good-natured swagger, and efusivness. The open emotions of the stars of "Born This Way" provide the warmth, comedy and drama that make every good reality show capture the large audiences.
I love the affectionate teasing between the stars, and how quickly it turns to hugs and compassion when feelings are hurt. I love how open they are,  allowing the viewers to watch them feel the pain of not being wanted for who they are. How many of us will hear our mothers say we wished we were never born? How many of us are aware that most expectant mothers finding themselves pregnant with a child with our characteristics, would abort?  The underlying darkness which breaks to the surface in emotional storms which overpower Elena, was very moving and provided the inspiration which gives this show its power.
The fact that these young adults can get up in the morning and smile at themselves in the mirror is an act of unrivaled courage. I hope that the viewers learn to see their neighbors and friends with Down syndrome as people, not merely diagnoses and this leads to greater acceptance of those who are truly born this way. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review of Chapter Three of True Radiance; Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life

True Radiance; Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life
by Lisa Mlandinich

Chapter 3 Fog Bound: Hope and Help for Your Aging Brain 

Chapter Three is an earthy and intensely personal look into the fears we women face as we age. The passionate detail with which Lisa describes her reaction to viewing her aging body in the mirror during what was supposed to be an affirming experience, resonated with me. Our attacks of poor self-esteem seem to hit us at the most inopportune times! Lisa was on the verge of a triumphant moment, in a hotel halfway across the country preparing to speak to a group of catechists in St. Louis about her books and website, and all she could think about was her aging body. I can’t help but wonder if there’s someone sinister trying to undermine our confidence as we strive to give God our best.
God did not abandon Lisa in her moment of crisis. God cares for us, body and soul, in every detail of our lives, not just the sweeping overview. Nothing is more embarrassing to an articulate woman than a sudden memory lapse. She can laugh and call it a senior moment, but it hurts to ask others for their names once again, or endlessly hunt for one’s reading glasses. Who hasn’t been there?! The great part of this most personal and practical chapter, is that God led Lisa to a solution for her memory loss and it’s not a drug. She initiated simple but sacrificial diet modifications and found her old spark come roaring back into a bonfire! Without this we might never have seen this wonderful book.
 It seems that women taking charge of their own health problems as they age is an important part of growing older with grace. We can’t just rely on conventional wisdom. We have to remember the confidence we gained by reading up on pregnancy and childbirth in the childbearing phase of our life. We didn’t just do as we were told, we asked intelligent questions of our obstetricians (mine jokingly nicknamed me “the Professor”!) And our babies benefited as a result. Now it’s time to take care of Momma and hopefully, Grandma. We have a lot to offer our families and the larger society, and Lisa gently reminds us to care for ourselves, even if it means changing some long standing habits and saying “No” to emotional eating and pleasing others who offer us foods we shouldn't be eating. You will find her suggestions practical and helpful, particularly the authentic examples of spiritual practices Lisa uses and describes at the end of the chapter.
Nothing in our lives is out of the realm of God's loving care for us, and this book constantly reminds us to love ourselves into more loving, healthier women who listen at the feet of God on a daily basis.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Traditional Catholics Can Learn Much from Pope Francis' Visit. If Our Hearts are Open

All week my enjoyment of the exuberant visit of Pope Francis was marred by arguments from faithful Catholics close to me who were angry at what he did or did not say or do.
Accusations of socialism, moral weakness and just plain wanting to be liked were flying. I begged them to wait and see what transpired after the visit. I  reminded them of the Feast of St. Matthew, which happened earlier that week. Matthew was the sinful, hated tax collector who became a saint and evangelist. In the BBC TV series, "Jesus of Nazareth" his conversion is very instructive to us.
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Notice how the Parable of the Prodigal Son is told by Jesus in Matthew's house, full of sinners while Peter broods in the doorway after railing against Jesus eating in the house of his "Blood sucking enemy!"(earlier scene, Matthew was after him for taxes after Jesus prayed for a miraculous catch). Note how Jesus uses the parable to bring Peter, AND Matthew to repentance and reconciliation. We who love the Church and fight the good fight get angry in our isolation and that does not win hearts to the Kingdom of God. Mother Teresa said, "Joy is the net by which you catch souls." Her ministry of charity was the means of salvation for millions, most of whom were not practicing Catholics.
We "Older Brothers" who are largely obedient to the laws of God and give Him His due worship each week have to work on being charitable when our errant brethren join us at the Lord's supper.

Just because Pope Francis seemed to be more in agreement with non-practicing Catholics and those who are involved in seriously sinful practices such as abortion and homosexual unions, doesn't mean that he approves of their sin. A good teacher, like Jesus, trying to "catch them being good" finding points of agreement on which to build bridges to make sure they listened to him. Jesus used parables to teach so that the listeners could discover the teaching for themselves without raising their defenses. I recall my contentious relationship with a relative over social issues. All the great points I think I scored in our debates did not move her as much as a single kindness I did for her when her worldly friends rejected her over a good life choice she made. Pope Francis has had his share of spirited debates, but he knows how kindness builds bridges.

Some of them will need more prayers and fasting to allow the teaching to take root. When  President Obama referred to "The least of these" he forgot that the Holy Father meant the unborn. Rep Chris Smith takes him to task on that here.


Last week Pope Francis admonished a joint session of Congress to follow the Golden Rule—to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—and said that the Golden Rule compels us to “protect and defend human life at every stage of development,” and that “it is wrong to remain silent and look the other way.” Yet, every day, Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons to death approximately 900 unborn babies—the “least of these”— and hurts many women in the process."


The task of engaging those sheep outside the flock is very sensitive. We need to be patient and learn from our Shepherd. But in the meantime, it is essential that we stop brooding like St. Peter on how our virtue and fidelity were not being rewarded during the Holy Father's visit. First of all, his texts are full of references to the family, and the rights of the frail, disabled and the unborn. He made it clear that with frequent stops to visit them on the side of the road that they are close to his heart. He visited the Little Sisters of the Poor right after his White House visit. Wasn't that a huge move on his part?

Our most direct reward came after Pope Francis was safely out of US airspace. The Vatican revealed that the Pope met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue same sex 'marriage' certificates. He encouraged her to "stay strong". she reflects on it here.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/exclusive-kim-davis-recounts-secret-meeting-pope-francis/story?id=34143874


In his Wednesday Audience, Pope Francis gave faithful American Catholics another pat on the back.

"It was on a religious and moral foundation that the US was born and grew, and on this base it continues to be a land of freedom and welcome. It is not a coincidence that the most advanced economy of the last century has such strong religious roots. Instead, its proof that religion and progress are compatible.
It is not accidental but providential that the message and testimony from the World Meeting of Families was given in the USA. It is the country that has developed the most economically and technologically in the last century without compromising its religious roots. Now they look to the same roots again from the family, to rethink and recharge the development model for the good of the entire human family.
In the family, the individual and society reach a balance. The family will be a basis on which progress in the 21st century continues. "

source; Wednesday Audience translation Sept 30, 2015 Rome Reports

So, fellow elder brothers, lets stop licking our wounds and get going on Pope Francis' charge to set America's future trajectory,  rooted in Gospel values which includes the traditional family, in a way which serves the good of the entire human family.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Having a Daughter with Down Syndrome Changed Our Lives for the Better

This article is my response to Halle Levine's piece at Yahoo news. If I knew my daughter had Down syndrome I would have aborted her; all women should have that right.



Chrstina's sisters love to spend time with her.

During the trying days after September 11, 2001, my sense of hope was buoyed by a hidden secret; I was after two births and three miscarriages, at age 39 I was successfully carrying a baby. I was not about to have a pre-natal test shatter my joy, so I told my OB that diagnostic tests were out of the question. I would take whatever baby I was expecting and love him or her with all my heart. In those days, when thousands of people died unexpectedly, we all experienced a renewed reverence for life.
So, when after an emergency C-section was done at eight months due to an inadequate placenta, those in the OR were surprised to find my daughter Christina had Down syndrome. At only five pounds, she was tiny but feisty, scoring a 9.9 on the Apgar scale. No other disabilities were found besides a tiny 2mm hole in her heart, which by age six months, healed itself. So Christina was ready to come home from the hospital before I was, suffering from a C-section scar.
Coming home was a challenge, we had not finished our kitchen renovations due to her early arrival, so I stuffed towels under my bedroom door, plugged in a small fridge in my room and lived off cheese baskets and home cooked meals from friends for two months while I figured out how to nurse a baby with Down syndrome. A bigger challenge, I discovered, was helping my family members adjust to Christina’s diagnosis. From denial to fleeing in outright fear, family members failed to support me. Fortunately I found support in my friends, my parish, and the Early Intervention professionals who frequented my home. Christina soon became the heart of our home. Family members who saw her as something to pity or fear were won over by her toothless grin when she saw them; she became a daddy’s girl, and her grandfather held her hands as she practiced walking across the living room.
School was another matter. Long Island schools do not accept lower functioning children with Down syndrome and Christina’s toileting skills were not advanced enough to be admitted in the local elementary school.  I was not pleased with the inferior facilities offered for those children with special needs, so we picked up and moved to Connecticut where there is full inclusion by law. Soon Christina was taking the morning bus to Kindergarten in rural Eastern CT. She became famous with her peers; everyone in the school knew Christina’s name and she gleefully waved back as they greeted her in school.  I couldn’t be happier, she was reading simple sentences and had wonderful teachers, therapists and paraprofessionals who motivated her, enjoyed her personality and even missed her during vacations.
Homeschooling Christina was easier than I expected.
When I learned about the high rate of abortion following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, I was devastated and wanted to encourage other parents that raising a child with Down syndrome was not overwhelming.   My daughter and I completed a video about her life, and I blogged about everyday life with Christina. In 2011, I published a book of stories from parents who, like me, never expected a child with special needs; yet found them to be their greatest blessing. I met with scientists, the media and members of Congress, while touring the country giving talks about life with Christina and Down syndrome in general. Accustomed to being a classroom teacher, I had vastly expanded my audience. My lesson was simple; if you abandon your previous expectations and allow your child with special needs to transform you, you will be amazed at the result. In 2011 a survey published by Dr. Brian Skotko in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found .. . that among siblings ages 12 and older, 97 percent expressed feelings of pride about their brother or sister with Down syndrome and 88 percent were convinced they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. A third study evaluating how adults with Down syndrome felt about themselves reports 99 percent responded they were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they are, and 96 percent liked how they looked.

My own older daughters agree with that, both of them chose careers in nursing after being inspired by watching such professionals help their sister.
Just as I became known as a voice of encouragement for those raising a child with Down syndrome, a major challenge emerged in our journey. In 2012, Christina’s speech development began to stall. Her physician recommended that she receive more intensive instruction and the Special Ed Director suggested that she leave inclusion for a full day in a self-contained classroom. It was a tragic mistake; Chrissy hated the restrictive environment and missed her friends. Her overtures to the children in the program, which was designed for children with autism, were largely rebuffed, and she was constantly being trained to reign in her attempts to gain attention by touching others and their belongings. This began two years of conflict between us as I spent hours every day, often with professional help in my home, convincing her to attend school.  I had a dozen professional evaluations done to prove that she needed to be placed in another program outside the school, and retained an attorney to convince the school, but they would not consider it.
 The three psychologists who evaluated her were divided about whether she had a secondary diagnosis of autism, yet the Applied Behavioral Analysis program at her school, which is often recommended for such children, was not meeting her needs. Child Protective Services was called by the district twice because of her spotty attendance, and in both cases, the CPS worker was outraged that she was being denied a proper school placement, and tried to help us advocate for her. In December of 2013, I withdrew Christina to homeschool her.
Being at home with Christina without fighting with her over attending school was a huge relief. We enjoyed one another’s company again. We took trips to local parks, met with homeschooling groups, counted math manipulatives, enjoyed Montessori activities, practiced her writing, did aqua therapy in a local pool, and frequented the library to read stories together. We found a speech therapist who believed in her ability to speak and she made slow but steady progress (the Special Ed Director said, at age ten, that Christina would never speak).  We found an Occupational Therapist who helped her start to overcome her sensory integration disorder which was the cause of much of her attention-seeking behaviors. We are currently working with a behaviorist who helps us help Christina improve her social skills. A state grant provides us with in home support for us so I can have a day off, attend and out of town conference or just catch up with my writing. I am working on a novel whose main character has Down syndrome.
Homeschooling was not new to me, I had schooled Christina’s sisters, but writing, speaking, and advocacy were new fields of endeavor. I have learned more about the exciting research like this new breakthrough http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-down-syndrome-therapy-discovered-300135102.html
and I have scores of new friends who, like me, never anticipated how our children would turn our lives upside down; for the better.
I hope that there comes a day in which all parents will be able to overcome the anxiety which often accompanies a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, and they are free to welcome their child with open arms, but until then, I support a banning discriminating against an unborn child with Down syndrome. Aborting because of a baby’s physical characteristics is equivalent to aborting a baby girl because she is not a boy. We can help parents who are feeling overwhelmed with a baby with Down syndrome find support, resources, or in truly difficult cases, an adoptive family. What we can’t do is undo the tragic decision to end a life ended because of fear of the unknown and bring back the wonderful potential hidden behind an extra chromosome.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sadness-Tinged Joy about the Special Olympics

Christina participating in swimming at our local pool. 
The closing ceremonies of the Special Olympics in Los Angeles was marked by joyful celebration. There is certainly a lot to celebrate since President George HW Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law twenty five years  ago. In the years before the law was passed, many Americans with disabilities were left to languish in institutions without proper educational, social, health care or athletic opportunities. So much ground has been covered, its as if society has been transformed. But an important piece has been overlooked, and that's why I can't find joy in my heart for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.

What is it?
If you watched any of the scant news  coverage of the four undercover Planned Parenthood videos, you will understand my pain. Over 54 million Americans lost their lives in abortion since its legalization and too many of those were aborted specifically because they had disabilities.
Listen to the heartbreaking reasons why parents aborted their child after a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
  • I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t be that kind of mother who accepts everything, loves her kid no matter what. What about me? Maybe it’s selfish, I don’t know. But I just didn’t want all those problems in my life. (138)
  • It’s devastating, it’s a waste, all the love that goes into kids like that. (134)

Instead of focusing on research to improve the lives of people with disabilities by helping them overcome memory loss or difficulties in communicating, most of the research money was spent in developing earlier, less invasive methods of prenatal testing.(as many as 90% of parents will abort their child with Down syndrome after receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome.)
Introduced in 2011, new NIPT Non Invasive Prenatal Screening methods gave parents a very reliable result at only 10-12 weeks of pregnancy using only a maternal blood sample. Further testing such as amnio is needed to make the diagnosis of Down syndrome, yet its feared that the abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome climbed as much as 34%. as a result of this new technology.

Talk about a step backward!

In a cruel irony, life has never been better for those with Down syndrome around the world, Opportunities and achievements are breaking all barriers, people with Down syndrome grace our TV and movie screens, college campuses and fashion magazines. Yet we still don't see a significant downward trend in abortion for such babies.

Why hasn't the abortion rate for Down syndrome gone down?
 Is it that we as parents haven't reached out enough?
Since 2002 when my daughter Christina was born, opportunities for sharing our daily life as famlies with members with Down syndrome have blossomed online and in print media. Gone are the days when Googling Down syndrome led to only dreadful results. But we have a long long way to go until babies with Down syndrome are welcomed as joyfully as their typical counterparts. The late term abortions discussed in the Planned Parenthood videos are too often those babies whose disability turned eager anticipation to a challenge which parents are rejecting after prenatal testing.

Is that all?
But the threat doesn't; end once our precious children are born. They are overwhelmingly happy wiht their lives and most families agree that they are great assets to their families and the community. But the power brokers do not agree. They want to deny them full access to health care.

As Betsy McCaughey said in her Op Ed in the New York Post. 
Take heed, ObamaCare architect Ezekiel Emanuel. He’s argued that organ transplants and other scarce resources shouldn’t go to the mentally disabled, who are “irreversiblly prevented” from contributing fully to society. Fortunately, 87 percent of Americans disagree with that cold calculation, according to the new national poll, and want the intellectually disabled to have accessto organ transplants.
It’s a sign that Americans are becoming ready to embrace the humanity of the intellectually disabled. 
Let us work and pray for the day when we can say without irony that people are fully included in our society no matter what their score on an IQ test.