By Kelly and Daniel Crawford
In the summer of 2015, my husband, Daniel, and I discovered I was pregnant and that our first child was a little boy!
On the same phone call, however, we learned that our son was conceived with a life-limiting chromosomal abnormality known as Trisomy 18.
Nothing can prepare you for that moment.
The future you envisioned with your child begins slipping away. Instantly, I had to come to grips with the reality that our baby's life would more than likely be short if his diagnosis held true.
So, the question instantly emerged: What ought a family do in a situation like ours?
Some people, such as the first specialist we saw, encourage abortion as a means of hitting reset in order to try again for a "better" one, which is to say, a healthier one.
Others believe it would be emotionally easier to terminate the pregnancy. "If you're going to lose this child at some point, why torture yourselves by dragging out the inevitable?"
I believe that this line of thinking is rooted in a caring consideration for the parents and offered with the best of intentions. It's not hard to understand why abortion would be considered in a situation like ours.
However, I humbly propose that such a conclusion is built upon two faulty assumptions.
• The emotional fallacy
Emotionally, the faulty assumption is that joy and sorrow are incompatible and that anything in life can fall into one of those two buckets—but never both.
However, regardless of your worldview or faith persuasion, the human experience shows us that joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I think we consistently find that life is an ever-swirling blend of joy and sorrow, highs and lows, good and bad, peace and conflict and love and loss?
It is also true that as we give our hearts fully to something or someone, this greater depth of love does, in fact, bring about greater levels of potential pain. We also know that as hard as it is to lose a loved one, the sorrow never negates the joy we shared and experienced with them.
• The psychological fallacy
Psychologically, scientific research has shown that women who terminated a child with a life-limiting diagnosis reported significantly more despair, more depression, and more post-traumatic stress than women who continued the pregnancy (Duke University, 2015).
So, it actually benefits a woman's mental health to continue with the pregnancy in such situations.
• The spiritual truth
Spiritually, above all else, I've come to see and believe that we can take God at His Word.
The Scriptures are abundantly clear:
God is the Creator of every life from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13–16).
Every human being bears His image (Genesis 1:27) and is therefore infinitely valuable.
Jesus Christ Himself is no stranger to suffering (Hebrews 4:14–16).
Believers will also experience suffering (1 Peter 4:12–13).
Yet, we can come to know Him more intimately as we share in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10) and trust that our pain is never pointless (Romans 5:3–5) as we keep our eyes fixed on the eternal hope that lies ahead (Revelation 21:1–5) for all who have accepted Christ's sacrifice on their behalf (Romans 10:9–10).
So, the choice we had was really no choice at all.
Rather than giving our little boy an abortion, we gave him a name, and Abel Paul Crawford's journey on earth continued.
I carried Abel for a full thirty-nine weeks, and he was born on January 22, 2016. This happens to be same day that Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. (I've since had two more babies born on January 22, but that's a different story).
Ultimately, we got to love and take care of Abel for fifteen days after birth.
While losing Abel was tragic, the real tragedy would have been if we had kept ourselves from truly loving him during the time we did have with him.
The truth is, aborting our son would not have spared Daniel or me an ounce of loss or despair. It would have only robbed us of the joyful memories that forever mark our season with Abel.
Our time with Abel was simultaneously the saddest and the sweetest, the hardest and the greatest season of our lives. We wouldn't trade those two weeks for anything in the world, and I cannot fathom giving them up prematurely and voluntarily.
• Abel Speaks
As we share our story in public, our goal is never to condemn or offend any families who have chosen a different story for themselves and their child. We don't want to shame families looking at the past; we want to strengthen families living in the present.
That desire has led us to found a nonprofit organization called Abel Speaks, where we exist to support families who have chosen to carry a child with a life-limiting diagnosis in pregnancy.•