JESSE Jackson, the American civil rights activist, politician and Baptist minister was born with a cleft palate.
Jim Abbott, a major league baseball player and Olympic gold medallist, was born without a right hand.
Christy Brown, the Irish author, painter and poet, was born with cerebral palsy and so severely disabled that he could only communicate with his left foot.
He achieved fame when his biography, My Left Foot, was made into an Academy Award-winning film.
Three people, who achieved great things, in spite of birth defects of greater or lesser severity.
Three people who might not have been born today, when 200,000 abortions are carried out in England and Wales every year.
Some of these abortions would have deprived people like Jim Abbott and Christy Brown of the right to life.
And, as figures released yesterday show, even a minor, perfectly treatable birth defect like Jesse Jackson’s cleft palate, is now considered grounds for abortion.
Such disturbing facts pose a number of questions:
Should a person’s right to life be dependent on reaching a certain level of physical or intellectual “normality”?
And who has the right to make such judgements about another human being?
And what about people born with a cleft palate, or without a limb, or with cerebral palsy, who are unlikely to achieve anything like Jesse Jackson, Jim Abbott or Christy Brown?
Does that make them any less valuable, less worthy of respect?
Shouldn’t every person be treated with equal respect – however they were conceived, whatever the circumstances they are born into, the colour of their skin, the culture they grow up in, or the limitations they might suffer because of physical or mental disability?
And shouldn’t that respect be extended to them as much before they are born as afterwards?
And can it possibly be right that the most dangerous place for any child to be, disabled or not, is in its mother’s womb?
Graham Jefferson Senior Pastor
New Life Church