I’ll never forget the doctor’s words: "If you like, we can take care of this problem immediately." He referred to my pre-born child as you might a toothache or a bothersome wart.

Six weeks pregnant and 2,000 miles from home, I’d visited a clinic when I noticed spotting. The attending doctor, grey-haired and 50ish, examined me and asked about previous pregnancies. I told him that I’d given birth to a daughter with several birth defects only 20 months prior.

"Imagine your life if history repeats itself," he said, shaking his head. "Do you want to take another chance?"

History repeated

My mind replayed recent events. I’d given birth to my first daughter in Nepal, where my husband and I were working with United Mission to Nepal. That country offered only basic prenatal care – no scans or tests to detect abnormalities.

Stephanie arrived with several major health problems, including a heart defect and hydrocephalus (too much water on the brain). After an emergency flight back to the United States when she was three-days-old, she underwent surgery to insert a shunt in her head. A pediatric cardiologist said she’d die within her first month.

Before her first birthday, she battled meningitis. She’d barely recuperated when neurosurgeons removed a cyst from her brain. She required weekly occupational therapy and an early intervention program.

If history repeated itself, even though we were no longer in Nepal, our life would again turn topsy-turvy. More medical evaluations. More surgeries. More therapy. More expense. And more desperate prayers on my child’s behalf. The prospect unnerved me, but the doctor’s casual offer unnerved me more.

Fix the problem? In other words, take a pre-born child’s life lest it complicate mine? No way.

A sacred reminder

I could not let this authority figure convince me of something I’d later regret, nor could I remain silent. With a trembling voice, I said, "God didn’t snooze through my daughter’s fetal development. He oversaw every minute detail then, and He’s doing the same now. Chance plays no role in my life or the lives of my children."

The doctor shrugged. "Whatever you want," he said as he left the room.

As I changed from the dressing gown into my clothes, I recalled a familiar verse: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:14).

My mind had rehearsed the same words in the uncertain days following Stephanie’s birth. At that time, I didn’t know what her future held. I didn’t know how to raise a child with special needs. But I knew my daughter was fearfully and wonderfully made and that God’s works were wonderful.

A smart decision

Nineteen years have passed since the doctor suggested ridding my life of this problem. Refusing his offer was one of the smartest decisions I have made. You see, this "problem," Kimberly, was born beautiful and healthy. Her presence fills our home with love and laughter.

At the age of four, Kimberly walked into the kitchen as I prepared dinner. "Mommy," she said, "how does Jesus get into my heart?" She chose to follow Jesus Christ that day, and her decision has never wavered.

She’s been a role model and trustworthy friend throughout her school years. She’s servedon her youth group’s leadership team and in international missions trips. Now she is studying to become a high school math teacher. Imagine the loss if I’d agreed to the doctor’s offer.

Stephanie still has a shunt. Nevertheless, she’s a thriving Bible college senior with plans to teach English overseas someday. The miracle of her life has affected millions through print, radio and TV as we’ve testified of God’s faithfulness.

Should this baby die?

A magazine headline caught my attention recently. Red letters asked the question, "Should This Baby Die?" The article explores Holland’s practice of euthanizing severely ill infants and predicts that the debate is heading toward North America.

I shuddered. Born in a different place and time, Stephanie would qualify for euthanasia, her death justified as a merciful act to prevent further suffering. That thought grieved me. The memory of the doctor’s offer brought further sadness to my heart.

The doctor had basically posed the same question: "Should this baby die?" If I’d said yes, Kimberly would have perished to prevent further suffering – not hers, but mine. At least, that’s what the doctor implied. In reality, the decision to rid my life of the "problem" would have only marked the beginning of my suffering.

© 2021 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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