August 7, 1989. A Quebecois baby whose future has been the country’s front-page story for two weeks is about to perish in a nameless abortuary because his mother does not want him. Chantal Daigle has her baby killed at 23 weeks.
But on the same day, across the country in Nelson, B.C., surrounded by his family and dreaming of the future, Jacob DiBella celebrates the day five years before when he was born prematurely at 23 ½ weeks.
When two different Quebec courts stayed the execution of Chantal Daigle’s pre-born child, Nelson resident F.W. Peitzsche observed in the letter page of his city’s newspaper that abortions should be acceptable up to 24 weeks. Money spent on 24 week-old babies – “brain damaged and doomed to a vegetable like existence,” is money thrown away, he believed.
Peitzsche plainly had never met Jacob DiBella. His parents, Mario, a self-employed electrical contractor and Lorraine, an ex-school teacher and now full-time mother, introduced him in the pages of the same Nelson Daily News. If he read the story, Peitzsche would have learned that following a late-night air-ambulance flight to the neo-natal unit of Vancouver’s Grace Hospital, Jacob struggled into the world August 7, 1984, the second and weaker of his twin brother Aaron. He was seizuring. He wasn’t breathing. Weighing little more than a pound of sugar, in the first two weeks of his life, doctors gave him a 25 per cent chance of survival. Today, Peitzsche would find Jacob less “vegetable-like” and more like a boy – singing, and swimming, and skating through the springtime of a life he knows is a priceless gift from God that no one but God can take from him.