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Sat Mar 3, 2012, 11:54 AM

Rick Santorum, Meet My Son [View all]

In an excruciating essay, writer Emily Rapp describes the life of her two-year-old son Ronan, who suffers from Tay-Sachs, a degenerative disease that has rendered him blind, paralyzed, prone to seizures, unable to swallow and often to breathe, and increasingly non-responsive. If through pre-natal testing - opposed by Santorum and others of his ilk - she had known his life "would be primarily one of intense suffering," she would have had an abortion - also opposeded by Santorum - as "an act of love." What's at stake, she says, is not testing, but choice. She expects Ronan to die this year.

Rick Santorum, Meet My Son

He has a degenerative disease that has left him blind, paralyzed, and increasingly nonresponsive. If I had known before he was born, I would have saved him from suffering.

Rick Santorum, I would like you to meet my child. You should see how beautiful he is; you should see how he suffers, how his parents suffer...I'm so grateful that Ronan is my child. I also wish he'd never been born."

This week my son turned blue, and for 30 terrifying seconds, stopped breathing. Called an "apnea seizure," this is one stage in the progression of Tay-Sachs, the genetic disease Ronan was born with and will die of, but not before he suffers from these and other kinds of seizures and is finally plunged into a completely vegetative state. Nearly two years old, he is already blind, paralyzed, and increasingly nonresponsive. I expect his death to happen this year, and this week's seizure only highlighted the fact that it could happen at any moment—while I'm at work, at the hair salon, at the grocery store. I love my son more than any person in the world and his life is of utmost value to me. I don't regret a single minute of this parenting journey, even though I wake up every morning with my heart breaking, feeling the impending dread of his imminent death. This is one set of absolute truths.

Here's another: If I had known Ronan had Tay-Sachs (I met with two genetic counselors and had every standard prenatal test available to me, including the one for Tay-Sachs, which did not detect my rare mutation, and therefore I waived the test at my CVS procedure), I would have found out what the disease meant for my then unborn child; I would have talked to parents who are raising (and burying) children with this disease, and then I would have had an abortion. Without question and without regret, although this would have been a different kind of loss to mourn and would by no means have been a cavalier or uncomplicated, heartless decision. I'm so grateful that Ronan is my child. I also wish he'd never been born; no person should suffer in this way—daily seizures, blindness, lack of movement, inability to swallow, a devastated brain—with no hope for a cure. Both of these statements are categorically true; neither one is mutually exclusive.


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kpete Mar 2012 OP
pansypoo53219 Mar 2012 #1
southernyankeebelle Mar 2012 #2
perdita9 Mar 2012 #3