April 18, 2006
A while back, I read a horrifying article in the New York Times. A woman gave birth to a disabled child- and because the doctor did not suggest she get prenatal testing, she sued him for “wrongful birth”. That is, if she had known the child would be disabled, she would’ve aborted it, but because she didn’t get that opportunity she sued the doctor for negligence, essentially. It’s not clear from the article whether the couple won the case, but it brings to mind the larger issue of selective abortion. It’s probably good that the child in question likely won’t have the mental ability to figure out one day, in an old newspaper article when doing research at the library, that his parents wish he’d never been born. His siblings may well, however.
I am extremely concerned with this issue and how it affects the future of disabled communities. We can now detect before birth many disorders and conditions- one of the most common being Down’s Syndrome. Unfortunately, often the information parents get is rather limited or negative- many disabilities can range in severity, and the parents fear the worst. Every child is an unknown, but a potentially disabled child is even more of an unknown. It would be nice if parents had the option of connecting with the people living with the condition in question before they made their decision, so they could get a realistic picture of what their child’s life might be like. There is a lot more to say on this.