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No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction Paperback – January 31, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“[No Easy Choice] is much more than memoir and more like an extended ‘case study,’ but not one written by a health care professional or clergy in training. Rather, it turns the tables, and is written by the ‘case’ herself, a parent of faith carrying a very risky gene who is trying to deal with the worlds of science, theology, and culture. I learned a lot and felt honored to be invited into the intimacy and capacity to deal with that wider intersection that happens at the beginning of life itself.”
―William C. Gaventa, Associate Professor, The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities , UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and author of Spirituality and Intellectual Disability

“This is a most thoroughgoing evaluation of questions that will absorb prospective parents, doctors, pastors, and those who counsel couples about in vitro fertilization and genetic testing. Anyone reading it will come away better informed on such vital choices challenging our culture.”
―Virginia Stem Owens, author of Caring for Mother: A Daughter’s Long Goodbye

“In No Easy Choice, Ellen Painter Dollar sets out to provide a guide for Christians considering reproductive technology. She succeeds, and then some. Weaving together an honest and touching personal narrative with ethical and theological insight, Dollar writes about a complex topic in simple terms. No Easy Choice should provoke thought, prayer, and discussion from any Christian who wants to engage the most pressing ethical concerns of the 21st century.”
―Amy Julia Becker, author of A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny

“Ellen Painter Dollar is a consummate storyteller with a consuming story to tell. She is also a gifted journalist. In No Easy Choice, she has combined those skills to produce a gripping account of her family’s engagement with one of the pressing questions of our time. Chock full of informed and candid insights, this one is a page turner.”
―Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why

No Easy Choice is a painfully wise book about the pain of having children whose life will be filled with pain. It is also a book of hope because its author never tries to say more than can be said about why some children are so born. This is a must read, not only for those considering prenatal genetic diagnosis and intervention, but for all concerned with the ethics of PGD. It’s a terrific book.”
―Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School, and author of God, Medicine, and the Problem of Suffering

"The book is both a challenge and a blessing for those who see the beauty that human disability brings to the world and the deep and troubling truths that it reveals about our societies. Moving, touching, personal, and filled with deep Christian spirituality, Dollar’s book will move hearts and make a difference."

―John Swinton, Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen

“This book is a welcome antidote to dry academic reflection on the ethics of PGD. The author walks us through her difficult decisions about using reproductive technologies in the face of having her children inherit a painful medical condition, cutting through the certitudes of those who do not have to face these choices themselves. Those pondering the use of reproductive technologies and those concerned with the ethics of these technologies can both benefit from reading this book.”
―John H. Evans, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, and author of Contested Reproduction: Genetic Technologies, Religion and Public Debate

“It is definitely an easy choice to recommend No Easy Choice to Christians, all people of faith, and anyone else wrestling with parenting and living with disability in our technological age!”
―Amos Yong, Professor of Theology, Regent University, and author of The Bible, Disability, and the Church

"I am grateful for Dollar's skill and honesty as a writer, and moved by her story that is so clearly marked by truth and grace. I urge everyone who cares about Christian faithfulness in our time to read, ponder, and share this book."
―Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

"Prepare yourself for a compelling, moving, and difficult journey. Elegantly written, this is a book of sheer genius born out of a story of pain, complexity, and faithfulness. This is book worth reading and rereading."
―Ian S. Markham, Dean and President, Virginia Theological Seminary

About the Author

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer and mother of three living in West Hartford, Connecticut. She has written about faith, motherhood, and disability for a variety of organizations, publications, and blogs, including Christianity Today, the American Medical Association, the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, the Hartford Courant, and the Episcopal Cafe. She currently blogs at Patheos.com. Visit her Web site at www.ellenpainterdollar.com.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664236901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664236908
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,470,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A couple of decades ago, I stood along the side of a busy highway for an hour a couple of Sunday afternoons holding a sign that read "Abortion Kills Children", along with about 75 others. Some honked as they drove by in a gesture of solidarity with those of us in the life chain. Others gave us the middle-finger salute, or shared their feelings with us via curse words yelled out their car windows. In the end, I wasn't convinced that our well-meaning silent protest would change anyone's mind, though I do remember praying that maybe the messages on our signs catch the attention of a newly-pregnant teen and cause her to rethink her plans to abort her baby.

Eventually, I shifted from sign-holding to other forms of pro-life activism that included writing/calling legislators and becoming a foster parent for a steady stream of newborns awaiting adoption. Though I continue to maintain my steadfast belief that a new human life begins at the moment of conception, I also realize that issue is far more complex than the simple words the two-dimensional cardboard sign I once carried.

Ellen Painter Dollar's book, No Easy Choice: A Story Of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith In An Age Of Advanced Reproduction (Westminister John Knox, 2012) is a primer on just how complicated the issue can be. Dollar has a genetic condition called Osteogensis Imperfecta (OI), commonly known as brittle bone disease. After she married, she and her husband longed to start a family; a holy, God=given desire . The couple had to process their concerns about passing OI on to a child, as well as Dollar's physical limitations. They took a leap of faith - and baby Leah was born with OI.
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Format: Paperback
When Ellen Painter Dollar and her husband decided to have children, they knew their child would have a 50/50 chance of inheriting from Ellen osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), more commonly known as brittle bone disease. Having lived with it all her life, and with memories of a painful childhood full of broken bones and casts, she was devastated when her first child was diagnosed with OI. Still wanting to have children, she and her husband decided that for their next child, they would avail themselves of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a means by which eggs fertilized with in vitro fertilization can be genetically tested for specific genetic traits.

In No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advance Reproduction, Dollar tells her story while exploring the moral, ethical, and theological questions her family faced during that time. This is a deeply personal book which, without moralizing or forcing conclusions, explores perspectives on disability, on the beginning of life, and parenthood.

I was particularly interested in Dollar's views on disability. If a family selects embryos in order to avoid having a child with a disability, what does that say about how they, or we as a society, value individuals with disabilities? Shouldn't parents want to prevent suffering for their children? If they can do so by not having a child with a disability, shouldn't they stop that pregnancy before it starts? Would it be "a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease," as the Nobel-prize-winning developer of IVF suggested?

Dollar makes it clear that she believes we should by all means value individuals with disabilities.
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Format: Paperback
Dollar shares her personal story of life with an autosomal dominant genetic disorder--Osteogenesis Imperfecta--which her children have a fifty percent chance of inheriting. After her oldest child was born with the condition, Dollar and her husband investigated and underwent pre-implanatation genetic diagnosis (PGD) along with standard in vitro fertilization (IVF) so that a second child would not have it. Though family, friends, and their pastor were sympathetic and supportive, Dollar and her husband found themselves considering many ethical issues for which there were no clear answers within their own protestant religious tradition.

Her perspective, that of a faithful mainline protestant, looks briefly at Catholic teaching, pro-life considerations, and Judaism to help inform a thoughtful understanding of the questions raised by the advances in modern reproductive technology. Most chapters tell a part of her story, and share stories of others' experiences, then offer some theological and ethical perspectives and conclude with some questions for the reader to consider.

Dollar's story is compellingly written, truly illuminating her experiences as beautifully as any novel. She brings together real stories and presents thoughtful philosophical and theological perspectives to inform and engage her readers. She critiques the media's coverage of reproductive technology and the "industry" itself, which is unregulated in the USA. She illuminates troubling issues beyond those she and her husband faced, including "fertility tourism". She provides a road map both for others to deliberately think about the desire for parenthood, the place of human suffering, how Christian faith can inform the issues raised and leaves many questions open for contemplation.
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