The Real Deformity
"There is little to be said about Freaks
(1932), Tod Browning's celebrated film, except that it does
not merit that reputation for cruelty accorded it by the litany of belated
surrealists. On the contrary, what I found touching was the human being's
prodigious capacity for adaptation. Seeing the armless man light a cigarette
by using only his mouth leaves us breathless with admiration. This story
shows the infinite ingenuity and the greatness of man. But enough moralizing.
Freaks is a very honest film that can be seen with more pleasure
Jean Douchet, Cashiers du cinema, Nov. 1962, p. 32
It's not too hard to see Cleopatra's evil and she and Hercules plot the death of the smitten Hans. We can see it as wrong when Cleopatra prefers the brutish Hercules to the adoring Hans on the feeble grounds of physical differences. We can see the cruelty when Cleopatra flings the wine in Angelo's face. Yet when we mark these same superficial traits as valid grounds for abortion, we dress it in the language of mercy. Why is Cleopatra's rejection evil, and ours kind?
"That's different," is the elitist answer. "Angelo and Johnny and Daisy and Violet were born people. They were already here. A fetus isn't here yet. It's just a potential person." But the rejected baby is real enough to be examined, judged, declared imperfect, and executed. He is a living human being, with a beating heart. He has just as much to say as any other child. But we silence him, dismiss him out of hand without ever knowning him, on the same grounds Cleopatra uses to dismiss the guests from her wedding banquet.
When Amelia Eckhardt gave birth to twin sons on an August night in 1911, it was the younger baby, the deformed baby, the half-baby, the child who wasn't expected to live, that was given his father's name to carry on: John Eckhardt, Jr., known to the world as Johnny Eck. He was not loved any less than his physically whole brother, Robert. The Eckhardt family knew something we've conveniently forgotten: that rejecting somebody is a choice we make. It says very little about the person we push away, but it says volumes about us.
To focus on a "disability" is to look at something that isn't even there -- to pay attention to the arm that is missing, or the intellect that is lacking, or the movement the legs don't make. It's seeing the hole and ignoring the donut.
That's an empty way to go through life.
Related Areas at Pro Life Views
- The Finkbine Abortion
How the Romper Room lady's quest to abort her Thalidomide baby won sympathy for abortion advocates.
Information and links about incomplete twinning, in which the two fetuses remain attached to one another in various ways.
Abortion and eugenics still go hand in hand after all these years.
Information and links about congenital absence or deformaties of the limbs.
Quality of Life
Activists often use the poor quality of life of vulnerable people as a justification for abortion and euthanasia. Pro life efforts attack causes of suffering, not suffering people.
Elsewhere on the Web
Bad Baby Blues"
Reflections on abortion of handicapped children.
The Politics of Prenatal Testing, from First Things.
Online magazine for parents and caregivers of children with special needs.
Like this link graphic? Click here to learn how to add it to your web page.