Severely disabled child had life “full of joy”

Pro-life activist and abortion survivor Claire Culwell wrote about a little girl she took care of who had severe disabilities.

In her book, Culwell wrote about four-year-old Riley–Jane and her mother Gayle. She says of Riley – Jane:

“… Her muscles didn’t function normally; her bones were soft; she had a tracheotomy; she was on oxygen and had a feeding tube.

Gayle said that the doctors didn’t think she could experience a good quality of life. However, despite all her challenges, Riley-Jane’s life seemed full of joy. Her parents wanted to nurture that apparent joyfulness and enable her to live as well as she could. They decided to ask me to be her caregiver as much as my schedule would allow. I was eager to help. Riley- Jane could do nothing for herself. I fed her, bathed her, dressed her, and just tried to help her feel loved and accepted.

Right away I saw the joy that her mother had talked about. As I rocked Riley- Jane, she would grin up at me, communicating without needing to say one word. I wasn’t sure whether she could really see me, but something inside Riley- Jane generated a spirit of happiness that was awe-inspiring. Her vulnerability and trust fulfilled and blessed me more than I could have ever imagined. I saw beauty that radiated from her soul, surpassing the usual physical definition of beauty.

Riley- Jane passed away a few years ago. It wasn’t surprising to see so many people who had been touched by her life – and the lives of her parents – gathered to celebrate her… Her quality of life here on earth defied what the doctors had said, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been blessed by Riley- Jane.”

Claire Culwell, Lois and Steve Rabey Survivor: An Abortion Survivor’s Surprising Story of Choosing Forgiveness and Finding Redemption (WaterBrook, 2021) 35 – 36

All human life is valuable, even lives lived with a severe disability.

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Author: Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a writer for Live Action and a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life Network. She lives in NJ.

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