For many decades, children with disabilities were “put away” because the family was ashamed of the child and/or because they were not able to care for them adequately. One person who helped change this perspective was Dale Evans Rodgers, the wife and partner of the most famous cowboy in American history, Roy Rodgers, he of “protect the weak and help them” fame (Roy Rodgers Rider Club Rules No. 4).
Roy Rodgers’ and Dale Evans’ first child, Robin, was very ill, including having been born with Down Syndrome. They were encouraged to put the child away, but they refused. Dale Evans subsequently wrote a bestselling book, “Angels Unaware,” giving Americans a much different perspective on having a child with special needs. They considered Robin a blessing, rather than a burden or embarrassment to bear. She was sent from above to teach her parents about unconditional love. The impact this book had on America and the families with special-needs children cannot be underestimated. And, the truth is, to this day, I have never met the family of a special-needs child who did not echo the testimony of Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans.
Putting people “away” was, of course, not the worst of it. For decades, people who could not be controlled for any number of reasons were subject to the barbaric procedure known as the lobotomy, perfected by one Dr. Walter Freeman. His technique included the use of a mallet to force an instrument akin to an ice pick through the thin layer of skull at the top of the eye socket in order to damage the frontal lobe. This technique took only minutes. Dr. Freeman advocated this procedure for patients with even fairly mild symptoms. He personally performed the operation on thousands of people and promoted the idea of lobotomy as a casual procedure, claiming it would one day be as common as dental work.
Rosemary Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy, was given a lobotomy by Dr. Freeman when her father complained to doctors about the 23-year-old’s moodiness and growing interest in men. Instead of producing the desired result, the lobotomy instead reduced Rosemary to an infantile mentality that left her incontinent and staring blankly at walls for hours. She was subsequently put away to a very remote location, never to be seen by her father again. Her mother never saw her again either, until after her father passed away. It was only much later in life that her siblings reunited with her.
These many years later, we are ashamed at how we treated people with disabilities, and absolutely horrified at the fate of the thousands of people who suffered a lobotomy at the hands of barbarians in scrubs. That raises the question, how will posterity and God, in eternity, judge us?
Consider the state of New York lighting up the World Trade Center in pink as they celebrated a law allowing medical practitioners to insert the equivalent of an ice pick in the back of the brain stem of an infant, a modern-day permanent solution to the problem, shame and burden of a disabled child, or so they say.
In actuality, this procedure can and will be used on perfectly healthy babies too, but nobody wants to talk about that. We have been calling this new procedure “choice,” making murder sound respectable, and soon it will be legal right up to the day of birth in several states. “Choice” may not be quite as popular as a trip to the dentist’s office, but thus far, some 50 million babies in America were given no choice in the matter.