Saturday, January 21, 2023


By Tim Rohr

The late Shirley A. Terlaje, wife of the late Atty. Edward Terlaje, and mother of the Superior Court's newest judge, The (soon to be invested)  Honorable John Terlaje, had some special things to say in her written testimony in support of the bill that became "Belle's Law," P.L. 20-134, and you can read it all here.

I knew Mrs. Terlaje and was quietly close to her in a way. She would often come by my Catholic bookstore that I owned and operated in the late 2000's and we would share, in a reserved way, much about our Catholic faith. Perhaps it was because I had 11 children and she had 11 children that we found some special things in common. Also, one of Mrs. Terlaje's daughters and her husband are godparents to one of my sons. 

When our 11th child was born in the late 2000's our family was struggling to make ends meet. Mrs. Terlaje, having 11 of her own, probably sensed my struggle and one day soon after the birth of our 11th, Mrs. Terlaje showed up at my store and handed me a $1,000 check. "This is just between us," she said. 

And I did "keep it between us," until just now. 

But there is another thing that makes us "close," and I did not know this until I just now read her now decades-old testimony. I will copy here the relevant portion:

People who would never dream of discriminating against another on the grounds of color, discriminate against the unborn child on grounds of size, because that child is so very small that he (she) cannot in fact make its voice heard. Therefore, it is brushed aside as being of no importance.

During the pregnancy of my sixth child, I experienced exactly this type of discrimination against my unborn child. During the first two months of my pregnancy, I had been quite sick and the doctors had done a large number of X-rays, in an attempt to determine what was causing me to be so sick. When it was later discovered that I was pregnant, the doctors told me and my husband that in all likelihood, the child would be deformed and brain damaged. (This was before the use of ultrasound to determine such things.) The doctors tried to convince us that I should go to Japan to have an abortion. Abortions were then legal in Japan, but had not yet been declared legal in the United States. My husband and I were both appalled at the idea of killing our own child, so we refused to follow the doctors advice. Six months later in that year, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, our son, John. John is now 23 years old, and is still healthy, and a great joy to all those who know him. He was born without any perceivable physical or mental defects, and tests have revealed that he has the highest IQ score of any of our 11 children. Irregardless, of what his health or intelligence had been, I cannot imagine casting him aside, and not allowing him the chance to be born. In just these few years, he has had a great impact on our family and on the lives of all who know him.

I'm assuming, of course, that Mrs. Terlaje's "John" is the same John who will soon be The Honorable John Terlaje. Meanwhile, the "serendipity" for me is that while I only just now learned about Mrs. Terlaje's "John," I have a similar story.  

During the pregnancy of our 9th child, ultrasound revealed concerning details that indicated that our baby would be born with Down Syndrome. Two doctors were in the meeting with us after the ultrasound. 

While not explicitly telling us to abort our son, it was definitely "suggested." And "suggested" coming from two doctors to frightened parents who completely trust "the medical professionals" equates to pressure to "do it." 

We went through hell for several months seeking out whatever else we could to help our baby. In the end he was born without an issue. And while I don't know his IQ, I would dare say that he is our most handsome son and a real physical specimen of a now adult man. 

Without knowing Mrs. Terlaje's story about her son - a story I learned just now, ten years after Mrs. Terlaje told her story via her testimony, we would ask one of Mrs. Terlaje's daughters and her husband to be godparents to the son we were told to abort...just like John. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Great stories. And Mrs. Terlaje was a powerful witness!