ABORTION and the HANDICAPPED
A message to anyone handicapped, to those who care for the handicapped, to all who value human life
Methods of diagnosing abnormality in unborn babies are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Blood tests, amniocentesis (testing fluid from the womb) and scanning enable doctors to spot mongolism, spina bifida, etc. long before birth.
LIFE does not condemn pre-birth screening, provided it is used solely for positive care and treatment of the unborn baby and his mother. When it supports the pregnancy and benefits the baby it is obviously excellent.
Alas, it is widely misused nowadays to seek out “defective” unborn children and to “terminate” them, not to treat them. Doctors screen largely to look for candidates for abortion. They kill rather than help.
Of course, it is natural to hope your baby is going to be physically and mentally sound and to be disappointed if he is not. We are all a bit frightened of abnormality. We think we will not be able to cope. People talk about sparing us the “burden” of “useless” lives. They tell us how a family can be stricken by the arrival of a handicapped child. They go on about ”vegetable existence” and “quality of life”. They say we cannot afford all those crippled children.
But the handicapped are human beings, too
Every pregnancy involves a mother and living child.? A child may be “imperfect” (who is not?), but is still a human being. Abortion will kill that baby.? You cannot get away from that fact.? No one – not the mother, the doctor or Parliament – has the right to kill a child because he or she is handicapped.? The mother may have a right to know (by pre-birth screening) whether she is carrying a healthy child. But if she is not, she has as much right to kill him before birth as to kill him afterwards.
No pregnancy is useless. No life is useless. Handicapped people are not inferior. No one can predict that a life will be meaningless. The “defective” can never be vegetables.? They are human beings. How we respond to other people’s handicaps is largely a measure of how civilised and mature we are. We must treat them with love and compassion. We can afford the best for them if we want to.
The handicapped can make the world a better place
Shouldn’t a handicapped person, like anyone else, be allowed to lead as full and happy a life as circumstances permit?
No one leads an absolutely full and happy life. We all do the best we can. No one is physically or mentally perfect. We are all, in a sense, handicapped.? Material success and physical wellbeing, as many discover, do not guarantee happiness. It is not external things like those which always count most.
The ‘handicapped’ may not be able to do all the things that ’able-bodied’ people do, but they can often do many that others can’t! And their courage, their often astonishing skills, their capacity for enjoying life frequently put the so-called able-bodied to shame.
They have a special role in society. They can make the world a better and a happier place – if the ‘normal’ people will let them. They can open doors for everyone.? Think how many artists, musicians, poets, scientists, statesmen and just ordinary, worthwhile folk have suffered serious disabilities – and triumphed over them, to the benefit of all. Today many would be killed before birth.
Handicap as commonly understood brings problems and challenges, of course. But, perhaps the worst handicapped are those who run away from what they call ‘abnormal’ or ‘defective’ human beings, and want them weeded out before birth in the operating theatres of our hospitals and abortion clinics.