famalaoan / politiku

“Quality of Life”

As Lou Leon Guerrero’s testimony against Bill 195-32, the “Infant Child’s Right to Life Act,” comes back into public prominence during this campaign, I’d like to share a very personal story that affects how I view this question.

My earliest memory is from age three or four.  I am standing at the foot of a winding staircase in a home.  Flashes of red lights and people in the uniforms of emergency response teams are all around.  I walk up the stairs and turn to the right, following a hallway back around past at least one bedroom.  (It is a very, very vivid memory.)  At the end is a room, with a crib, and my father weeping unconsolably over the crib as more emergency personnel stand around.

My next youngest sibling, my sister Kathryn Louise Bowman, lived only three days after birth.  She had no chance of survival.

I’ve told this memory to my mother and we did indeed live in a house just like that, and that was just the situation on the night Kathryn passed away.  This memory is not always at the forefront of my brain, but it resurfaced as I processed Lou’s testimony.

That was such an indelible trauma.  I actually have no other memory anywhere near as vivid, and I wouldn’t have necessarily thought I was capable of such a vivid and long-lasting memory.  Kathryn’s death marked me.  It marked my parents at a very young age in their marriage.  They went on to have four more surviving children, and several miscarriages, one at quite a far point along in the pregnancy, my brother John.  My mother got one photograph of his tiny body, and I have a clear memory of that photograph of a curled up and very developed little baby boy, silent and unmoving, as well.

So I wonder, when Lou suggests you cannot “afford” to save a viable life, because it is $273,000 supposedly, and doctors will say it is not “living a quality of life” or however she puts it, would she really have looked my parents in the eye and told them they shouldn’t have tried to save Kathryn because they weren’t rich enough?  That they shouldn’t have called on the public resources of the hospital and the emergency response teams for help?  That they should’ve just let their little baby die and shrug it off . . . oh well, she had no chance of much quality of life . . . ?


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