Madeline Stuart is an Australian fashion model. As the Washington Post reports, she is in “high demand” today. Madeline’s career started when her mother arranged a professional photo shoot for her and put some of the pictures on Facebook. They went viral overnight, racking up more than seven million views.
The offers started pouring in. She was invited to model in New York, Paris, China, London, Sweden, and Dubai. She has now walked more than one hundred high-fashion catwalks. She has more than one million followers on social media and her own clothing line.
Madeline also has Down syndrome.
“I’m happy to change the way the world looks at people with disabilities,” Madeline says. “I want the world to be more accepting. That is my dream.”
Wheelchair Barbie and Bernie Sanders
In other news, Wheelchair Barbie is coming to stores. In June, Mattel will debut a doll that comes with a prosthetic leg and another that comes with a wheelchair.
More than one billion people in the world have a disability, according to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of a group that advocates for the disabled. “We want to see ourselves reflected in the culture, toys, products and everything around us,” she says.
Mizrahi adds: “Barbie joins a number of powerful companies who also understand that marketing, and including, people with disabilities is both the right thing to do and the profitable thing to do.”
One more news item: Sen. Bernie Sanders announced yesterday that he will run for president again. CNN calls him “one of the frontrunners” and “one of the most popular politicians among Democratic voters.”
At seventy-seven years of age, Sanders is the oldest candidate in the field. He’s a year older than presumptive candidate Joe Biden and five years older than President Trump. If any of them is elected in 2020, they will become the oldest president in history.
Mass lynchings in Washington?
American culture has made progress on many fronts. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits age discrimination against people who are age forty or older.
When assertions appear such as an Alabama newspaper editor’s column calling for mass lynchings to “clean out” Washington, they are immediately and appropriately excoriated.
But inclusion in our culture only goes so far.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ignited a firestorm recently when he defended a radical bill repealing restrictions on third-trimester abortions. Northam told a radio audience that “the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
His office later issued a clarification stating that the governor was referring to “a nonviable pregnancy” or “the event of severe fetal abnormalities.” We are left to wonder what constitutes “severe fetal abnormalities.” If Madeline Stuart’s mother had tried to abort her but Madeline survived, would the governor have supported her infanticide?
This is not a speculative or hyperbolic issue. Two medical ethicists published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics claiming that “what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
The ethicists cite the standard argument that abortion should be permitted when the social, psychological, or economic well-being of the potential parents is at risk. They argue that “the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the state of a newborn.”
In their view, a newborn child possesses no more inherent value or ability to function as a person than a preborn child. As a result, it should be afforded no more protections or rights.
Three reasons we’re where we are
Why does our culture celebrate the rights of some people and not others? Why are disabled persons, elderly people, racial minorities, and LGBTQ persons granted civil rights when the preborn are not?
Consider three facts.
First, America is a republic rather than a strict democracy, which means that majority rule does not preclude minority rights. Second, our culture is intensely pragmatic, which means that truth is “what works.” Third, we are capitalistic, which means that we value what consumers value.
Added together, these convictions mean in practice that our society grants civil rights to minority groups who can advocate effectively for them.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have happened if African American leaders and those who supported them had not worked sacrificially and tirelessly for years to change public perception and persuade lawmakers. Wheelchair Barbie is coming to stores in part because such a product is “the profitable thing to do.”
However, the preborn cannot advocate for themselves. Nor do they represent a consumer group. To the contrary, according to the US Department of Agriculture, raising a child costs $233,610 (excluding the cost of college).
Since our culture has replaced biblical morality with subjective opinion, we have jettisoned the intrinsic sanctity of all life from conception to natural death. More than sixty-one million unborn children have paid the price.
The sanctity of life matters most to those who can defend themselves least.
Two responses to God’s amazing love
Our Father loves us whether we love him or not: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He loves us as much as he loves his own Son (John 17:23, 26). Nothing “in all creation” can separate us from his love (Romans 8:39).
God’s embracing, inclusive love calls for two responses on our part.
First, receive his gift. Henri Nouwen: “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.”
Have you embraced your beloved status yet today?
Second, share his gift. Pray for mothers to choose life for their preborn babies. Use your influence to serve someone who needs you. Demonstrate God’s love in your compassion.
How will you help the Madeline Stuarts you know to change the world?