Abortion, Diversity and Playing God

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One of the delights of wandering a college campus is seeing the diversity that exists among the student body. Here, you find people of different shapes, sizes, and abilities. Standing near the college green, you can watch as an interracial couple walks hand in hand, with no one giving it a second thought. No one bats an eye as a guy in a wheelchair passes them on the way to class. Three girls talk animatedly with each other, not noticing or caring that one of the girls carries a white cane and does not look her companions in the eye.

These are not odd situations. The vast majority of these students have no problem if their fellow classmates are different. For those struggling with disabilities, most students show concern rather than scorn, acceptance rather than rejection. They believe that all their classmates, professors, and school staff are people deserving of respect and a good life, no matter the difference in ethnicity or ability. A student with Cerebral Palsy is just as important as the quarterback of the school football team. Many students join with liberals and conservatives alike in decrying discrimination against people because they are “different”.

That is why it is appalling and hypocritical that some of the same people that criticize the discrimination of disabled and handicapped people are so willing to laud the “right” for women to kill their unborn children only because they will be born with a disability. Ninety-two percent of babies found in prenatal testing to have Down Syndrome are aborted.1 At least 73 percent of unborn babies believed to have neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, share the same fate, with some researchers believing the rate to be between 80 and 100 percent.2

In fact, many times doctors encourage expecting parents to undergo prenatal testing (some involving risks of miscarriage and preterm labor) in order to diagnose disorders early, so that the mother can “easily” undergo an abortion. In some cases, women who would happily give birth to a healthy child might have an abortion if the child might be disabled. They are often put under pressure by doctors who fear “wrongful-birth” suits brought against them by parents who were not told their child would be disabled. In New Jersey in 2003, a woman sued OB-GYN Savita Khosla for not informing her that her son had Fragile X Syndrome, which causes mental retardation, so she could abort him.3 Khosla ended up paying $1.2 million out of court. Scared, other medical professionals end up pressuring an expecting mother to have prenatal screening, alarming them over the possibility of “undesirable” disabilities that could “easily” be taken care of through abortion. After all, why would any parents want to deal with the financial and emotional burden of having a child who has Down Syndrome or who will be blind her whole life?

This type of so-called “therapeutic” abortion, an outcome of both scientific advancement in prenatal testing and an unrestrained “right” to an abortion, is inherently discriminatory towards disabled and handicapped people. In effect, the doctors and abortion advocates are saying that human beings born with physical and mental disabilities are not fit to live. They justify this point of view by saying that they are just “relieving the suffering” that the disabled person will go through if born. This does not take into account the fulfilling lives that many disabled people enjoy, despite their handicapping condition. It does not take into account the joy that others receive from their association with the disabled person as a person. Instead, they promote the destruction of human beings based solely on whether that child’s potential “usefulness” is adequate for the parents and society.

How does one define “usefulness”? A child born with deformed legs will have to endure many struggles and may place a greater financial burden on his family, but he can still go to college and become a scientist or history professor and enjoy a fulfilling life in a myriad of different career options. Another child could be born with Down Syndrome and need special care and education. Yet can someone place a price on the joy her parents and friends receive from her smile and delight in life? Who would be willing to tell a playful little boy who was born blind that he does not deserve the right to learn, to grow, to live?

Long ago, John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote a meaningful, applicable stanza in his poem, “The Eternal Goodness:”

Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?

Who talks of scheme and plan?

The Lord is God! He needeth not

The poor device of man.

Who, then, would play God?

Cailin DeMarco is an intern in the Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program at Concerned Women for America. She is assigned to the Beverly LaHaye Institute.

End Notes
http://www.californiaprolife.org/abortion/discrim.html Ibid http://www.aapd-dc.org/News/disability/abortdebate.html

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