March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. That's how the saying goes. And oh, how it rings true for my family. It is Lent, of course, a time for the faithful to pray, sacrifice and fast. And it is in our prayerful reflections and daily acts that we prepare ourselves for Easter and new life.
March is also Trisomy Awareness Month. For my family, this has become a time to celebrate the life of our daughter Bella. Bella was born almost five years ago with trisomy 18, a severe genetic condition that I believe makes every day with her a gift from God. Children with trisomy 18 have an extra chromosome, are born underweight and suffer a number of health issues that lead in most cases to a shortened life. It is true that 90 percent of babies with trisomy 18 die at or before birth, many by abortion. Only 1 in 10 that survive birth see their first birthday. Despite this painful reality, Bella has enriched our lives beyond measure, and she is a happy child surrounded by the love and comforts of her family. We've been truly blessed, but we do not take for granted the resources and access to medical support and pro-life disability groups we have had in caring for Bella.
Not every child born with trisomy 18 -- or any physical or mental disability, for that matter, of course -- has the means or the access to the same support. This is true across the United States, but it's especially true in developing countries, where many of these children live in poverty. This March, to observe Trisomy Awareness Month, we are thinking about those children and the great organizations that are working tirelessly to support them. And we hope you join us in recognizing them for the great work they do.
My wife, Karen, and I believe that every life is sacred and that every child is born with the God-given right to live a rich and rewarding life. And this is just as true for children with disabilities. When these children are born into lower-income families, the challenges they face can be quite steep. And though public assistance may ease the situation, we can't rely on the government alone to help these families and these children. We must do more. We must support communities, organizations and churches that can provide specific support to these families.
I'd like to mention a few examples of the organizations that are doing this important work. Building awareness will help these children, and if you are able to support them this Easter season, please do.
Former Senator Rick Santorum is the author of It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. He is writing a second book on the “Gathering Storm of the 21st Century” – the war against a radical, Islamic fascist enemy and its growing alliances around the world.
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