Charles Darwin once said, “A man who dares to waste one hour has not discovered the value of time,” indubitably, parents Jenna Gassew and Dan Haley of Delco, PA exhibited the most intimate appreciation and consciousness of this principle. After learning that their unborn son Shane had been diagnosed with anencephaly, a rare and terminal neural defect, they decided to consolidate a lifetime’s worth of bucket list activities into nine months. “Most families wait until their baby is born to start making memories and traveling to places with them,” Dan said. “We understood what it was and knew that our time with our son could be very limited, so we wanted to make the most of the time that we had with him.”
Anencephaly is a congenital disorder in which babies are born with missing or underdeveloped parts of the brain and the skull, resulting in death soon after birth. Be that as it may, to the Haley’s, Shane’s life and the limited space of time they had together was priceless. Some of the 29 items on their bucket list included attending sports games, concerts, visiting New York City, and classic Philadelphia landmarks such as Geno’s Steaks, all of which they concluded on September 6, about a month before Shane was due. On October 9th, the family released a statement saying, “Today at 6:15AM, after meeting his entire family and being baptized into the Catholic faith, baby Shane died peacefully in his Mother’s arms .. we are so grateful for the time that we were blessed to hold and hug our son .. the support and prayers we have received from all of you have been amazing and we want to thank each of you with all our hearts .. Shane spent his entire life in the arms of people that loved him unconditionally and I don’t think you could ask for a more beautiful life then that .. he is home now with the Lord and will forever be our little miracle!”
In the United States alone, 1.06 million abortions are estimated to have taken place in 2011 and 53 million legal abortions have been recorded from 1973 through 2011. Since 21% of all pregnancies in the U.S. (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion, it is estimated that one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45. In Europe, roughly 30% of all pregnancies end in abortion, a statistic that can be broken down to 17 abortions per 1,000 women in Northern Europe, 12 abortions per 1,000 women in Western Europe, and 43 abortions per 1,000 women in Eastern Europe. Other subcontinent abortion statistics include 15 per 1,000 women in Southern Africa, 38 in East Africa, 36 in Central Africa, 28 in West Africa, and 18 in North Africa. Latin America has an abortion rate of 32 and sub-regional rates ranging from 29-39. Lastly, Asia abortion rates range from 26 per 1,000 in South Central Asia and Western Asia to 36 per 1,000 in Southeastern Asia.
More often than not, a debate on abortion between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice factions turns into a paradigm of the chicken or egg mystery so I shall not indulge. Per contra, the bigger picture in the Haleys’ experience that we should all zoom in our wisdom lenses on, is their emphasis on the paramount importance and value of life. As abortion becomes more acceptable in our fluid global society and our socially constructed reality takes different shapes and forms, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the intrinsic value of life in every form that it presents itself. For as J.K. Rowling once said, “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”