What College Students Think about Forced Termination of Pregnancy When There is a Diagnosed Disability

Dec 17, 2010
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Undergraduates were given extensive readings on abortion and the law, in a disability rights course. Here are their thoughts after completing the unit.

Table : Pro and Con Opinions on the Topic of Forced Pregnancy Termination in Disability Diagnosis

Against  Abortion Pro Choice
There are definitely two sides to this argument, and I feel like each one has valid reasons to support their views.  On the one hand, you could argue that it is the responsible thing for society and parents to bring all conceived children into this world, whether or not they will be born with a disability. Having a disability does not make a person worthless or a burden on society. In fact, many with disabilities have made great advancements and produced much for society, so to think that if their parents had aborted them just because they knew the child would have a disability could have really had a negative effect on society. On the other hand, some could argue that if you know a child is going to be born with a disability, then abortion is a viable option for the sake of the parents and family who would have raised the child.  These people would argue that a disabled child does not get to fully enjoy life and creates a huge burden on their caregivers, and society in general, who must provide much more than they do for children without disabilities.
I can see the appeal of getting a fetus tested for diseases and disabilities, but it is also dangerous. My question is: where do we stop? How do you classify what disabilities are “ abortion-worthy” and which ones aren’t that bad? These advances have already gotten out of hand, with people wanting to specify their baby’s eye color and trying to specify gender. Many still believe that the primary reason for having children is to provide for the society, both in terms of furthering the future of the society through reproduction and by contributing to the workforce. They might say that those with diseases or disabilities only serve to hinder society, because they need to be cared for over long periods of time. With the use of abortion, we could weed out these potentially “unproductive” children.

I understand that some people just don’t have the means to take care of a disabled child, and adoption rates aren’t great for children with disabilities. The child may also be born with a disease that will take their life within a few short years of being born anyway.

Although the reading was quite lengthy I think I got the gist of the arguments on both sides.

I think it is the responsibility of society and parents to provide equal care to all individuals.  It’s unfair to group everyone into the same category and expect the same results.  We are all different in size, race, gender, etc.  So I think that equal care to all people is extremely important.  If we only portray those that are healthy then society will not be able to view the other category of people who are not healthy.  So in my personal opinion equal rights and care to all people.

One should clearly think about the dire consequences of bringing a child with disabilities into this world. The extra time, the huge expense, and the cost on society as a whole have to be considered. Everyone bears the financial burden when it comes to the cost of accommodating someone with a disability. Is it fair to subject everyone to this type of hardship? What if the child ends up as a ward of the state? Then it will be the taxpayers of that state that will be totally responsible for the care of the child. One must ask themselves is it fair to subject so many other people, for the care of a few?
Questions surrounding the morality of abortion and justification of its use have plagued society for as long as the option has existed. The question “is it the responsibility of society and of parents to bring to life only healthy citizens or is it the responsibility of the society and of parents to provide equal care to all” goes beyond the most basic discussion of whether or not abortion should exist. It expands the debate to “Who deserves life and who does not?” If we as a society determine that every child conceived deserves life, then we assume the burden of providing care. When a couple or an individual chooses to bring a child into the world that choice carries with it the implied acceptance of certain responsibilities surrounding the care and raising of that child, however no one parents alone. To some degree family, friends and community share in the raising of every child born into that society. We have public education, public health care and public financial aid for those who are in need; so in a sense society is already providing a degree of care to every child. The greatest care is provided to those with the greatest need.

The students sum up with this comment, “ Unfortunately there are compelling reasons both for and against terminating a pregnancy that results in the birth of a child with disabilities. Scientific advances in genetic testing and neonatal medicine have given doctors the ability to predict whether or not a fetus will be born healthy, and medicine has the tools necessary to increase the survival of those who are not.

What medicine has not given us is the wisdom to answer the question “who among us deserves to live and who does not.”

The question remains unanswered and open to debate. To say that all life is sacred and once conceived every human should be allowed to reach full maturity is difficult to argue against. This should be the most basic of human rights. However if we take away the right to self determination on the part of parents who are also citizens, we also forfeit the right to self determination on the part of us all. In such a case we unjustly deny the individual the right to live life as they believe fit.”

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Author: Tanya

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