Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's a Baby Worth?

Health care has been in the media and on our cumulative minds a lot these past months, and far be it from me to weigh in on that technical debate here and now. But I was shocked, struck, overwhelmed, bothered and concerned by a recent story I was pointed to in the news. This story is not about government or private, republican or democrat. This story is about the evil of our culture, where the weak are killed so that the strong may live.

The story is about Angel Jesus Candalario, a little boy born on May 18, 2009 to a Hispanic couple in Long Beach, California, Carlos and Nereyda. That's the good news. Angel was born. The bad news is he almost wasn't, not because his mother wanted a choice, not because she didn't want a baby, not because the father wouldn't be around, or because they didn't believe they were ready, but because the HMO of her workplace insurance told her that she needed to abort the baby ... or else ... they would not treat her cancer.

At the time when Carlos and Nereyda met Georgia Froncek (a lady who spends time praying outside of abortion clinics), Nereyda was five months pregnant and preparing to kill her baby because she truly believed she had no choice. Ironic that. Georgia, fluent in Spanish and trained to counsel people contemplating abortion, told Carlos that what the HMO was doing was illegal. Carlos rushed into the clinic to stop the process, emerging minutes later with his wife, who was in tears.

So, what to do when the HMO's play bad and greedy? First, they called a social worker. What did they receive? The same answer: the aggressive four-stage cancer could not be treated unless she received an abortion. An appointment for a consultation was set-up for ten days later, even though the couple, encouraged by Georgia, now were sternly refusing to abort.


At the consultation the thoracic surgeon, the internal cancer specialist and the high risk obstetric doctor all said that chemotherapy was the only option and that Nereyda would die in two months without it. The OB-GYN insisted that Nereyda abort the baby as soon as possible. But by this point, the parents weren't going to back down. They asked for another procedure, a drug treatment called Adiramycin, which will not harm in utero babies and can help delay cancerous growth. Though the doctors resisted, for it was not the most aggressive therapy possible, they at last agreed to prescribing the treatment along with an potent synthetic pre-natal.

The baby was born three months later (a month after Nereyda was supposed to be dead without chemotherapy,) and Nereyda has now entered more aggressive treatment. Though still far from in the clear, her tumor has shrunk.


There is much that can be said about this story, but the one thing that struck me as I first read it, and the one that strikes me again now, is the what amounted to a constant commitment by the health care systems, both public and private, to steal from Nereyda the choice to save the life of her baby. From HMO to government worker to doctors, every group with pinpoint precision were willing to cast aside the life of the weakest and most helpless human in the room, even though someone else in the room was willing to die to save that life. This shows us just how deep our culture has wallowed into the brave new world of “situational ethics” where “right” and “wrong” no longer have meanings and where some “all created equal” people are simply more equal than others.

I don't pretend that votes taken in our government this week will change this reality one way or the other. But I do know what did: there was a time when it was in God's best interest to abort you and me, in order to spare himself, and he didn't. He died, knowing full well why he died: to bring life. This is the reality that changed reality, and it is more than a potent example of the heroism that is the essence of our God. In his new world, living to a ripe old age and having all my dreams come true is the one thing that doesn't matter at all. What matters is people, life, others – especially those who have never had a chance to live, to be baptized, to hear about Jesus, and who he is, and what he's done.

If there is to be a culture in America that helps women choose life, it will be in America's churches and no where else. Mammon is not going to bring the pro-life cause victory any time soon. It will be among those who believe God's love is a love which dies to save that we can find hope for more stories like Angel Jesus Candalario, stories of men and women who sacrifice in order to confess the one thing that matters, the one thing that makes the trials and decisions of our decayed world secondary: Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins, and not only our sins, but the sins of the entire world, even those babies being killed day after day in the clinics of our land.


My prayer for our congregation is that, steeped in his Word and the mercy of his Sacraments, we will continue to grow as an assembly straightened to stand against the tide of greed and death in our land, to become a shelter against all hopelessness and fear, to become a hospital for sinners, so that when we meet Carlos or Nereyda or whoever else needs us to tell them the simple Truth, and who then needs us to stand with them in that Truth, we are ready to say, “Now the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

No comments:

  ©Template by Dicas Blogger.