At First Things, his Grace Charles J. Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver, asks, "What kind of people are we becoming, and what we can do about it?"
The occasion of his Grace's question are people whose children have have disabilities, in particular, Down syndrome. The archbishop covers familiar ground: the role played by prenatal testing and the way that "medical professionals now can steer an expectant mother toward abortion simply by hinting at a list of the child’s possible defects." While the archbishop doesn't think that "doctors should hold back vital knowledge from parents" or "paint an implausibly upbeat picture of life with a child who has disabilities," he adds that there's another voice that a prospective parent of a child with special needs also needs to hear:
Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective. Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits of parental love and faith. Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with Down syndrome can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends, and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.
These parents aren't "melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism. It’s a realism flowing out of love—real love, the kind that courses its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage."
Ultimately, his Grace writes,
The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. The real choice is between love and unlove, between courage and cowardice, between trust and fear. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.
For some people it's an actual choice -- for others it's the hand they have been dealt. Either way, the archbishop is right.