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Lucas Warren has typical hobbies for an 18-month-old baby: He likes to play, laugh, and make other people laugh. But Lucas isn’t a typical toddler. This week, baby food giant Gerber chose Lucas as its “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby.”
Lucas also happens to have Down syndrome.
Lucas is the eighth winner of the annual contest, but he’s the first baby with Down syndrome chosen for the honor. Gerber chose Lucas’ photo out of 140,000 entries submitted nationwide.
It’s easy to see why.
The beaming baby sports a crushingly cute smile and a polka-dot bow tie in the picture his mother entered into the contest on a whim. His parents will receive a $50,000 prize, and Lucas will appear on Gerber’s social media channels throughout the year.
His parents hope Lucas will inspire others and raise awareness about the dignity of people with disabilities. But his mom noted Lucas is like every other baby, with a distinct personality and tastes: “He may have Down syndrome, but he’s always Lucas first.”
The heartwarming story comes during the same week New York Times columnist David Brooks urged Democrats to consider giving up a hard-line position on keeping late-term abortions legal.
“We need to acknowledge our vulnerability here,” he wrote. “Democrats support the right to choose throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy. But babies are now viable outside the womb at 22 weeks.”
Slate responded with an editorial by Cheryl Axelrod, a Chicago physician who accused Brooks of cruelty to mothers. She described aborting babies who have life-threatening birth defects as “intrauterine palliative care.”
Axelrod also asserted most women seek late-term abortions because of grave health concerns for the mother or baby. But at least one study disputes that claim. Researchers in 2013 found “most women seeking later abortion fit at least one of five profiles: They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and [had never given birth].”
Those are still serious problems, but not ones that can’t be overcome with compassionate help for both mother and baby.
Some late-term abortions involve children like Lucas.
In a Huffington Post piece late last year, one mother described undergoing a late-term abortion because her son had a serious heart defect likely caused by Down syndrome. She couldn’t bear to bring him into the world with such complications.
Though she defends her decision, you can hear the mother’s anguish as she describes the grisly process of aborting her son at 28 weeks. It’s a process that began with a shot to stop her baby’s heart. Abortionists then induced the mother’s labor.
She says her biggest regret is that she never looked at her son after his delivery.
Looking at babies has been one of the game-changers in the realm of abortion. Seeing a baby’s picture on an ultrasound persuades plenty of mothers to carry the child to term. It provokes compassion, even in the middle of fear.
I’ve been teaching a Sunday school class for young people this quarter, and we’ve been discussing the compassion of Christ. We’ve noticed how often the Gospel writers point out that Jesus “looked at” or “saw” a person before He healed or intervened.
Later on, when the Pharisees complained about a sinful woman crying at the feet of Jesus in worship and gratitude, Christ asked them a simple question: “Do you see this woman?”
In the year ahead, we’ll see more of Lucas Warren, as Gerber beams his sweet image across social media. May it provoke compassion for mothers and babies in all kinds of situations.
And as opportunities arise for us to engage those contemplating ending unborn lives (or defending the practice), may it spur us to gently ask them: “Do you see this baby?”