Fri Dec 14, 2012 - 2:30 pm EST
My nephew Kaleb: putting a human face to our national shame
December 14, 2012 (Unmaskingchoice.ca) - There’s something so indescribably heartrending about holding a lifeless baby, and even now I cannot begin to wrap my mind around how I felt after being handed the tiny body of my nephew Kaleb. He was swaddled up tightly in a blue knitted blanket and as I cradled him I naturally began to rock him slowly back and forth. He was so still, so heavy, and, “Oh God, he’s supposed to be breathing. Why isn’t he breathing?”
I will never forget that day nearly three months ago, and I will never forget the look of agony in my sister’s eyes as I sat there in that hospital room holding her firstborn son. It was like a nightmare, and I kept trying to make sense of what was happening. I remember thinking, “Babies are not supposed to be stillborn ... what could have happened? He looks like he’s sleeping … this is so wrong.”
“His little hands are so cold … but they are so perfect. Wake up, Kaleb… why won’t you wake up?”
As I sit here trying to sort through my thoughts and emotions, things become more difficult when I begin to consider how, in Canada, Kaleb’s little life was is not respected enough, nor valued enough, to be considered a life. Kaleb did not “completely proceed, in a living state, from the body of his mother,” therefore, according to the Criminal Code of Canada, his life was not a life, nor was he considered valuable enough to be referred to as a human being and all that that implies. Under Canadian law Kaleb never lived, and thus, he was never entitled to the rights that so many of us take for granted.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”
I keep running over the term, “ … in a living state …” in my mind as I consider the implications of our Criminal Code. During the final hours of Kaleb’s life something went drastically wrong. Although the doctors aren’t able to definitively piece together what caused Kaleb to descend from “a living state” into a lifeless state, one thing is clear – twelve hours before his birth Kaleb was most assuredly living.
This fact cannot be either disputed or denied. All the things that are used to measure and reassure us that life is indeed in existence were present. His little heart was beating soundly, he was moving and his movements were being distinctly felt, and the scans reassured my sister that her son was indeed alive. In fact, these measurable signs of life are already distinctly present in the first month after fertilization when the baby’s heart begins to beat, and from the very beginning as cells begin to rapidly divide from the moment of conception. These measurable signs of life are used by medical practitioners to reassure every mother that her child is in a “living state,” and they are present from the very start. In Kaleb’s case some unknown factor caused him to descend from a “living state” into a lifeless one, and his heart stopped beating somewhere between noon and midnight on September 16th, 2012. He died before he had a chance to “proceed from the body of his mother,” however it is very clear that he was measurably and notably alive before his heart stopped beating. Not even the Criminal Code of Canada denies that fact, but it staunchly denies his intrinsic worth and humanity.
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Kaleb was not considered to be a person under Canadian law, and neither are the countless other children who are born still and without a heart beat every year in our country. There is something very wrong with a law that defines personhood as, essentially, a change of location. I fail to understand how one trip five inches down a birth canal can change someone from being a non-person with no rights, to a person who is entitled to the indisputable rights every other living, flesh and blood Canadian possesses.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for the mothers and fathers of children like Kaleb - a child who was so desperately wanted, so completely loved, and so indisputably alive.
However, this is also true of another group of pre-born individuals – the child who is so desperately unwanted, so completely unloved, yet still so indisputably alive. The aborted pre-born have no rights, but deeper and more essentially still, no protection. Kaleb had the safety and protection of a mother and father who looked forward to his coming with anticipation, and who wept with sorrow when his heart stopped beating. What about the thousands of living, pre-born persons without protection who are discarded by their parents and mercilessly ripped to pieces to the tune of a suction machine in the sterile environments of our hospitals and abortion clinics? Who is going to raise the alarm and speak out on their behalf?
I write this to honor the memory of my nephew, Kaleb, as well as the memory of over 100, 000 Canadian pre-born children who die each year without a voice and without the legal identity of human person. This article reprinted with permission from Unmaskingchoice.ca