Alison Davis was born with spina bifida. She later developed conditions including osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Coping with these permanently disabling and painful conditions dominated but did not define her life. Indeed, they led her to champion the rights of the vulnerable, the disabled and the unborn, first as an atheist and then as a Catholic.
At university Alison had strongly supported a woman’s right to choose abortion but her attitude changed after she read of the case of a baby girl, Louise, born in 1979 with the same disabilities as hers, who had been deliberately starved and dehydrated to death by Dr Donald Garrow of the High Wycombe Hospital. The case, which received wide publicity at the time, shocked her to the core.
In 1981 the Guardian published a letter in which she criticised the killing of newborn disabled babies. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) contacted her and argued that killing the newborn disabled was a consequence of killing the unborn. Alison was reluctant to give weight to SPUC’s arguments but within a couple of years she accepted them and became pro-life. From 1983 Alison worked full-time for SPUC’s newly developed Handicap Division (its name was later changed to No Less Human), for disabled people as well as their families and carers, and became a major commentator on anti-life policies which discriminated against disabled people.
As someone who lived a life of considerable suffering, Alison often spoke of the opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ, not merely as a privilege but as “the greatest privilege in the world.” Shortly before her death Colin Harte wrote, “Alison frequently heard it said after someone had died, ‘At least his (or her) suffering is now over.’ She asked me several times not to let anyone say that after she died, because she felt it diminished the particular gift she had to offer God. The Church provides a beautiful and profound teaching on suffering, but for many Catholics there is little understanding or appreciation of it. Alison’s life of intense suffering – physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual – is an exceptional witness to the privilege and dignity of suffering in union with Christ.”
The above are just snippets from this very fine obituary. I recommend that everyone give it a read … very inspiring!
Full article here: catholicherald.co.uk/features/2013/12/03/obituary-alison-davis
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon her.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.