This was originally posted on http://africanjungle.iblog.co.za/ on June 9th, 2010
Today, my blog posting was going to be about how Andrew Wakefield began the MMR-causes-autism manufactroversy. Instead, I’m going to be writing on a news story I read – a news story that rather upset me.
Actually, it enraged me.
According to a news article on the Huffington Post, a woman named Stephanie Rochester has appeared in court charged with murdering her six month old son. Mrs. Rochester, who works with autistic children, came to believe that her son was also autistic and smothered him with several blankets. This was an odd assessment as autism is usually only noticeable after 18 months of age.
Whatever the truth of her son’s condition, I have this to say to Stephanie Rochester:
HOW DARE YOU?!!
How dare you use the fact that your baby son might (and I must emphasise might) have had autism as an excuse for ending his life? When you get married, the vows you declare are “For better or worse”. When you sign up to be a parent, for better or worse applies a hundred times stronger. Killing your child just because raising him or her may be difficult is abominable.
How dare you label your child a burden? Not 10 minutes walk from the house where I grew up is a place called Little Eden. It is a haven for mentally disabled children. I have frequently seen parents picking up their children from Little Eden when I have gone there to drop off my recycling. In addition, when I go to church I often see disabled children with their families in the congregation. Do you think the parents of these children see them as a burden? I think that these parents would defend their children to the death if they had to.
How dare you make the decision to end your child’s life without considering anyone else? Katie McCarron, an autistic girl, was murdered by her mother. Her grandfather, Mike McCarron, was heartbroken, as was her father. Katie’s story is partly the reason I now self-advocate.
Your child is a human being, not your property, and there is always a chance that your child may not be what you wanted. If you can’t accept that, rather don’t have children at all.
Update: Stephanie Rochester has pleaded insanity to the charge of murder.