Early Down’s Alert Brings Up Abortion Issue

by Ryan on June 21, 2008

in Anything Else,Culture,Religion

A new antenatal test currently in trial stages can indicate whether or not a couple is going to have a child with Down’s Syndrome at about the seventh week of gestation.  Some believe this would definitely lead to increased abortions of those children.

We’re beginning to enter that world we all talked about 10-15 years ago when we asked ”what if” science could find out things like this for the benefit of new parents before the child is born, or even change characteristics to create cafe-style children looking like we want them to, etc.  We’re not at the latter point yet, but probably will be within our lifetime. 

Yet, in this particular scenario (and most other ones of this nature) the child gets left behind.  It’s Down’s today, but what if tomorrow it is homosexuality or susceptiblility to multiple sclerosis or even (to some vein parents) an unwanted recessive eye color?  Isn’t this what the Nazis tried to do — weed out the weak in society for the strength and convenience of the living? 

Yet, shouldn’t the parents know everything they can about the health of their child before he or she is born?  It’s a potentially slippery slope when we start gauging the value of a child before he or she has a chance to be born if that means terminating those who are deemed weak or inconvenient after a couple initially had the intent to keep the child.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

rightonoz June 22, 2008 at 6:38 pm

I agree with your Slippery Slope comment, in general, however do support tests that identify potentially devastating issues early on and give a couple choices.

As you know, I’m on the opposite side of the abortion debate to the three of you, though would prefer substantially more effort in to preventing the need and desire for abortions.

We have family friends who had a child with a serious mental disability that in those days could not be detected before birth, though now can.

They were friends of my parents when they were alive and this couple, now in their late 70′s still have their son needing full time care and cannot bear to have him institutionalised, though that will soon have to happen due to the husband’s failing health. I have understood their struggle first hand for more than 40 years (YES I’m even older than that!)and while they have been the most loving parents one can immagine, it has been agony for them and their daughter at times. When my parents were alive they helped from time to time by having their son stay with us to give them a break, and it was always an extremely difficult time.

On a more personal level, it helped destroy the relationship I had with their daughter who went through years of abandoning close relationships due to her fear that she would have similarly handicapped children. Since the advent of the tests, she has had two perfectly healthy children. While such tests wil result in increased abortions, they can also ease real fears.

Having seen this, I would support any of my children who decided on an abortion if told of a significant risk. (I have 4 stunningly beautiful and extremely healty grandaughers from 8 months to 6 years – guess my gene’s weren’t the dominant factor there:-)) and never cease to be amazed at the wonder of life. The moment you first hold each of your children and grandchildren is incredible. (This from a grouchy bastard like me)

That said, I have a sister who cannot conceive and saw her struggle to adopt, finally sucessful after years on the waiting list. As a result, I sometimes wish for the days before endless hand-outs to unmarried mothers and over the counter abortions, when there were more children available to be adopted by loving childless couples.

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