A young woman stepped up to the microphone, hands trembling ever so slightly, and started telling her story. She had gotten a routine ultrasound when she was four months pregnant, and that ultrasound indicated that her baby would be born with Down syndrome.
The next phase of her journey brought her to the local pregnancy care center looking for abortion information. She admitted that she had been excited about having a baby when she thought it would be born healthy. As things turned out, though, this ended up being more than she had bargained for. In fact, her doctor suggested that her pregnancy should be terminated considering the diagnosis.
The audience sat motionless — eyes wide, mouths open. There wasn't a person in the room who wasn't hanging on her every word. In unison they wondered, "What happened next?"
She then spoke about the details of her time at the pregnancy center. Counseling details were shared, and the internal wrestling that followed was described. The pregnancy center staff and volunteers prayed for both her and her baby. After many tears and late nights, she decided to choose life and trust God with the outcome of that decision.
Silence penetrated the room. Though no one spoke it, there was only one question left unanswered. "What about the baby?" You could practically read it on everyone's face. "Tell us what happened to your baby."
At that point, her smile grew bright. A picture flashed up on the overhead screen showing this sweet young mother holding her beautiful newborn baby. The final words of her testimony rang across the banquet hall like music to everyone's ears."The doctors were wrong," she explained, lips quivering. "My baby doesn't have Down syndrome. He's perfect."
At that, the audience erupted into applause. There were teary eyes and "Hallelujahs!" Thank God! Without a doubt, she had made the right choice.
I applauded just as passionately as everyone else. I was happy — truly happy — for this precious mother and child. As I left that event, I whispered a prayer for them both, asking God to bless their future and further their faith.
It was at that moment that I asked God the question that had been tugging at my heart throughout the rest of the evening's program. "Would they have applauded after hearing my story? Would they have celebrated at the news of my daughter's birth?"
I, too, had a routine ultrasound when I was four months pregnant. I also was told that my baby would be born with Down syndrome, and, just like that impressionable young woman, I was encouraged to consider abortion based on such an "adverse diagnosis."
Our stories are strikingly similar, right down to the counseling details shared at the pregnancy care center. Yet, that is where our circumstances start to change. You see, I didn't have to seek out my local crisis pregnancy center after leaving the doctor's office. I worked there.
First as a volunteer and eventually as a pregnancy center staff member, I knew the truth about life and fetal development. I knew all the Scripture to consider and all the points to take to prayer when considering abortion. I had been equipped to make this decision years before facing it. Largely because of my involvement at the center, I knew how to respond to my own crisis pregnancy.
Like the new mother who spoke at that annual dinner banquet, I chose life. That's something else our stories have in common. It's also where our similarities end.
Though it's true that I — like that young lady — trusted God with the outcome of my decision, the fact is that in my baby's case the doctor's diagnosis was correct. My daughter, Sarah Hope, was born exactly how they said she'd be born. Sarah was born with Down syndrome and many of its accompanying birth defects.
In my heart, though, I know that she, too, was born "perfect" because she was created in God's image (Genesis 1:27). As it is in the case of every one of us, God is the Potter who molded Sarah as His clay (Isaiah 64:8). She is not defective or deformed. Rather, she was formed according to His master plan. Sarah Hope was and is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).
My question has never been, "Did I make the right choice?" Instead, the questions I have pondered center around wondering just how far those of us who claim to uphold the sanctity of human life are willing to go in our convictions.
When we say that life is precious, do we mean every single life regardless of its level of health or beauty in the world's eyes? Do we really believe that God considers precious even those babies who are diagnosed as imperfect by the medical community? Are we willing to safeguard even those whom others think should be thrown away?
Is there a difference between what we say we believe and what we're willing to prove we believe? Would we be willing to go beyond mere words to a place of action where we might actually celebrate with a woman who chooses life without any guarantee of a happy ending?
In the hard cases — the cases of adverse diagnoses — do we still believe that life has value, or do we have our limits? When that helpless little baby is born with some sort of disability, do we still believe his mother made the right choice? Might we still applaud when "happily ever after" ends up looking nothing like what we prayed for?
These questions have coursed through my veins as long as I've been a member of my local pregnancy care center. They are questions that I got to answer in an extremely personal and tangible way through the birth of Sarah Hope. Through her, I believe God has shown me His heart to uphold and protect life — all life. Through Sarah, God has broadened my vision, enlarged my heart, and expanded my understanding of the miracle of life.
Many of my questions were answered when my daughter was born, but one remained until the close of this year's annual dinner banquet. This time, I was asked to share my story. I wondered how the audience would react upon seeing Sarah's picture on the overhead screen. Would there be an awkward silence? Would the applause be polite or passionate? I didn't need to wait long for the answer.
Before the last sentence of my testimony was complete, a room full of those who love life stood to their feet and celebrated the life of my daughter. Everyone agreed; I had made the right choice. In God's eyes and in the eyes of everyone present that night, my baby was perfect.
Shauna Amick is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher who has a passion for seeing people of all ages and circumstances go deeper with God. Contact her at Shauna@yourwatermark.org.