So I was reading other blogs that were based on the article I wrote about yesterday and looking more into some of the deeper discussions of euthanasia (not just right or wrong, but rather: in which specific circumstances is it acceptable?) and it got me thinking about a lot of things that I am sure I will discuss over the coming days.
Today’s topic which I thought about after reading a blog (with which I didn’t agree) on euthanasia as a governmental eugenics program. It made me think about eugenics. Eugenics is defined as “advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of people with desired traits (positive eugenics), and reduced reproduction of people with less desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics)“. I started to wonder about abortion. Before you get too concerned, I would like to make it clear that I am not arguing that abortion in and of itself is encouraging eugenics, I am still a firm believer in the right to choose.
However, my concern is the allowance of abortion for a fetus that has a disability. This is a fairly common reason for a woman to get an abortion, and one of the only times in which late-term abortions are permissible. But what is that doing to society? What sort of message is that sending to those people living with disabilities?
Many cases in which a woman aborts a fetus with a disability are cases in which the woman wanted a child – a planned pregnancy. The woman discovers there are fetal abnormalities: maybe Down syndrome, maybe Dwarfism, or even a deafness. She decides that she doesn’t want an “abnormal” baby and it’s perfectly acceptable to abort. What does this say to the people with these disorders? “You’re not worth as much as “normal” people, you couldn’t be a contributing member of society, you’re a burden…” There are plenty of people with these disabilities who are high-functioning and contribute to society, just as there are plenty of “normal” people who don’t contribute anything to society and are far more of a burden than the child with Down Syndrome.
I understand that there are cases where a mother is unable to cope with a disabled child. My boyfriend argued like this: wouldn’t it be better for the mother to have the abortion and not be miserable than it would for the mother to have the child, be miserable, and likely have a child who miserable and not well taken care of? I see his logic, but viscerally I don’t like it. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.
I have a concern about allowing people to abort based on “negative” genetic traits because I feel like it is treading very closely to the line of eugenics. It sends a terrible message to people who have the disabilities that allow for abortions, and it removes a whole subsection of diversity within the population.
Should a woman be allowed to have an abortion because she doesn’t want to be pregnant, or have a child, or have a child with a specific person? Yes.
Should it be allowed, even encouraged, because she doesn’t like the idea of who or how the child might be? No. If you disagree with me here then I ask that you read a past blog post of mine about aborted based on the sex of the fetus, and give me your thoughts. Quite frankly, in my view there is only a small difference between these two things and if we are allowed to abort based on the fact that the baby will be born in a way the parents don’t want (disabled) then why can’t they abort based on sex if the parents don’t want a particular sex?
PLEASE NOTE: there are certain disabilities and birth defects that I am purposely not mentioning here such as Tay Sachs and others that appear to provide only a short and agonizing life for the child, with no hope of functionality or life past the first few years. While I am not certain how I view these, I don’t think they fall into the same category to the other types of disabilities mentioned.