Dear North Dakota,
I understand that the winters there get cold. Really cold. But your hearts don’t have to imitate the weather.
Do you understand how cruel life can be sometimes? That your reality isn’t universal? That just because you see that happy smiling six year old child with Down Syndrome at Denny’s after church on Sunday doesn’t mean that is his reality all the time? That when you read about that “miracle baby” on your pro-life webpage, that there is a reason that she is called a miracle – because that’s not the norm?
Do you understand that for some people, death is a blessing? That no matter what “modest proposals” you might suggest, sometimes preventing those lives would be the best route to take.
Do you understand what a lifetime of pain means? I’m not talking about pain that be solved with prescriptions – I’m talking about long term pain that can’t be controlled. That no matter how many surgeries a person goes through, there is no promise that the condition can be fixed, or that a new side effect won’t rear it’s ugly head?
Do you understand what long term treatment costs in a single year? Over a lifetime? That not all insurance plans are created equally, and that experimental treatments aren’t covered? That pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps are very real issues that some people have to worry about?
Do you understand that most disabled children still go through puberty, and that they can be at a disadvantage for predators because of this? Have you ever talked to a mother who had to put her severely retarded 15 year old daughter on Depo Provera – not to stop the menses, but to stop a pregnancy in case she was ever raped? When you have to pay people to be caretakers of your child, you can no longer pretend that the world is a merciful place.
You must not, because I can’t believe that people willfully choose to be that cruel.
However, congratulations are in order, because you have made my state of Texas look compassionate by comparison. We lead the nation in executions. We overtest and underfund public education, creating a school system that is ripe for failure. We are rabidly anti-union, and employees have little to no rights. We have Rick Perry as a governor. And yet with all of these egregious faults (and many more), I would still rather live in Texas simply because my husband and I were allowed to make the best decision for our daughter that we could.
I know that there is very little that unless you were faced with a similarly dire situation, you would understand what I did. You wouldn’t understand what Baylee’s parents went through. Or what Sarah went through. Or what Beth went through. Or what any of these families went through. Even if you can identify with the fear and heartbreak that accompanies a diagnosis, please don’t pretend to understand what we have gone through, because this is a multifaceted issue. Your situation – your story – is not mine.
So North Dakota, here’s a little advice: go back and read All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and remember that no one likes a bully.