SHOULD A DEFECTIVE FOETUS BE ABORTED?

A seven year old boy in Austria was born with a defective spine, hydrocephalus and club feet. He has had several operations and has to take medicine.

The boy’s parents sued the doctor and the hospital. They said they would have had the foetus aborted if they had known it was p hysically disabled. The Supreme Court found in favour of the parents. The entire cost of raising the child, such as specialist care, will now be paid by the state and backdated seven years. The Austrian minister of health said the parents had a right to full compensation (paid by taxpayers) because of a “faulty diagnosis”.

Cardinal Schonborn and the Catholic bishops said the verdict was “unacceptable” . It would lead, they warned, to more pressure on women to have abortions. It would encourage “panic diagnoses” and increase the pressure on women to have abortions at the slightest risk of abnormality. Furthermore, the court’s decision would support the already widespread opinion that brought into question handicapped people’s right to live. The Cardinal also noted that the court’s decision coincided with the seventieth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Austria when thousands of disabled Austrians were killed.

Caritas Austria and organizations for the disabled supported the Cardinal’s position.

Should severely defective foetuses be aborted to avoid large public expenditures to support the care of disabled people?

28 Comments »

  1. 1
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Should severely defective foetuses be aborted…”

    It’s up to the parents to decide that… it’s nobody’s business but the parents.

    If it were me I’d opt for the abortion – but many people feel differently and that’s their right. If someone wants to raise a disabled child then let them – just don’t expect to be given ANY handouts.

    Raising a disabled child is difficult and expensive – as long as the parents are aware that this is the case and they still want to proceed then we should let them…. but I repeat – they’re on their own. They’ve been warned and should have to live with their decision without gov’t assistance.

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Up to about 75 years ago, this question wouldn’t have arisen because such “severely defective foetuses” when brought to term would have, for the most part, died shortly after birth anyway, making the question moot.

    Indeed, tens of thousands of years of human evolution was governed by Darwinianism: survival of the fittest. Defective genes either simply didn’t survive past a few months of life or, if they did, were not too successful in procreating once adulthood was reached. Classic Darwinism.

    But ever since the advent of universal health care and the incredible advances of medical science and technology over the past 75 years or so, any foetus — regardless of the genetic make-up — gets to be “borned” (to use the expression from “Juno”) if that is what the mother wants, even one with “defective” genes (to use the phraseology of the column at hand). Said foetus gets to survive, gets to procreate, and gets to pass on those “defective” genes.

    So, for the first time in human history and human evolution, we are experimenting with the “survival of the fittest” model that was responsible for the make-up of the human genome. And it is, indeed, an experiment.

    What will be the consequences of this experiment? Well, at about 12% of GDP today, health care costs can be expected to rise exponentially. The little baby born with a genetic heart defect that costs $100,000 to fix in the first week of her birth now gets to live. She gets to grow up healthy and, in turn, will have 3 children, all of whom have the same genetic heart defect who, in turn, get to have the $100,000 operation, all paid for by the state.

    And so on.

    I’m not passing judgement on all this or saying we should or shouldn’t put rules on who gets to live. But we should, as a society, feel comfortable in starting to discuss the repercussions of what seems to be a universally accepted maxim: all babies borned get to live no matter what the cost.

  3. 3

    Tony:-

    A great start to an informed discussion of the issue. Neil

  4. 4
    Chimera Says:

    Joe and Tony: Excellent points, both of you. And I wholeheartedly concur.

    That Cardinal really needs to get his head outa his nether region. If the Church is so gung-ho for the birth and care and feeding and raising of anything with birth defects, then let the Church step in and fund/raise them!

    And did Hitler really target only the disabled? How special! What a berk.

  5. 5

    As someone opposed to abortion to begin with, I’m not in favor of this reason for abortion. Being abnormal doesn’t eliminate one’s right to life, a right I think prudent to attribute to the unborn not on metaphysical certainty that a fetus has such a right, but on the mere possibility that it does.

  6. 6
    jim Says:

    A birth defect in a parent is not necessarily passed on to their children. Someone who is blind doesn’t neccesarily pass it on.
    One thing the little people do not want to hear from thier doctor is, do they wish to abort the birth of another little person. It is considered an insult. Why would they want to abort one of their own. It has been my experience that parents with odd children give them a great deal of love.
    Besides, how are we going to identify the foetus nuts. Has anyone noticed that they seem to congregate on the blogs and internet. Jim

  7. 7
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    It is estimated that world wide over a trillion dollars a year is spent on weaponry and tens of thousands of innocent people are killed. To balance the cost equation a little it would seem to me that a couple of billion to support innocent children with birth defects world wide would be broadly accepted.

  8. 8
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I’d like to hear Steven Hawkings’s point of view on this.

  9. 9
    Chimera Says:

    Kyle, you don’t have to be in favor of abortion. All you have to do is stop trying to tell anyone else that they can’t be in favor of it. The “mere possibility” of anything does not make it a reality except in fantasy.

    Jim, birth defects are not always passed on directly, but the genetic code for them is always passed on. And when recessive genes pair up with recessive genes, a dominant characteristic emerges. And we weren’t discussing dwarves and midgets, but defective entities.

    Peter, you’re projecting your own wishes onto other people who probably won’t agree with you. Better to ask before you make decisions that involve the lives of others.

    Paul, what does Stephen Hawking have to do with this? Does he have a kid with birth defects?

  10. 10
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Hawking, a scientific genius, author and commentator on the Nova series, IS one of those “defective entities.

  11. 11

    “All you have to do is stop trying to tell anyone else that they can’t be in favor of it.”

    Why?

  12. 12
    Chimera Says:

    Because you don’t get to run anyone else’s life, that’s why.

  13. 13
    Chimera Says:

    Paul. But did his parents know that before he was born? He didn’t begin to manifest symptoms until he was already an adult.

    Ask him, instead, how he would feel about saddling anyone else with the suffering to which he has been subjected.

  14. 14
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Had is parents known and chose abortion, we still would have lost a genius, no?

  15. 15
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Had is parents known and chose abortion, we still would have lost a genius, no?”

    So what?? Someone else would have filled the void…

    Every baby is a potential genius.

  16. 16

    Chimera wrote: “Because you don’t get to run anyone else’s life, that’s why.”

    How does attempting to persuade someone to take a stance on the abortion issue translate into running his or her life?

    A law outlawing abortion would do that, sure, but then many laws affect how we live our lives.

  17. 17
    Chimera Says:

    “How does attempting to persuade someone to take a stance on the abortion issue translate into running his or her life?”

    You’re not trying to make anyone take a stance. You’re trying to make them change their stance.

    You’re trying to force them to agree with you. You are trying to inject your opinions into someone else’s decision. And you don’t get to do that.

    “Had is parents known and chose abortion, we still would have lost a genius, no?”

    Would we? Maybe not. Maybe if his mother (only the pregnant one can have the abortion) had had an abortion, one of her friends or relatives may have decided not to have one…and maybe that one would have surpassed Stephen in thinking capabilities.

    We’ll never know, and it’s a pretty impractical exercise to beat the speculation to death. Fun, but impractical.

  18. 18

    “You’re trying to force them to agree with you.”

    What force am I using?

  19. 19
    Chimera Says:

    Kyle, are you really that thick?

  20. 20

    I think we should make our points strongly but civilly.

  21. 21
    Chimera Says:

    I think I was being extremely civil, Neil. No swear words. But I am losing patience with the attitude that if they pretend they don’t understand me, they can make me change my mind.

    Kyle understands. He’s not stupid. But apparently, he thinks I am.

  22. 22

    I don’t think you’re stupid, Chimera. Perhaps I’m thick, but I honestly don’t see how trying to convince someone to change his or her mind is an act of forcing that person into agreement. If I were using some form of coercion, say physical or psychological, then I can see the charge of using force. But simply trying to persuade?

    Sorry the confusion.

  23. 23
    Chimera Says:

    One more time, Kyle. But I really am losing patience with those who play dumb and expect to be seen as credible.

    Your opinion is your opinion. You are welcome to it. But you are not welcome to “share” it with those of us who specifically state that we want no part of it.

    Trying to make your opinion into a law by which we unbelievers must live is forcing it on us.

    “Trying to convince someone to change his or her mind…” is forcing your opinion. If I tell you in words of one syllable that I don’t want to hear you repeat yourself over and over again, that I have weighed the arguments on all sides and I’ve come to my own conclusions — which are different from your conclusions — and you insist on talking to me anyway — THAT is FORCE.

    I HAVE taken a stance on the abortion issue. I do not want you to keep trying to make me change that stance. I especially do not want you to pretend that if only I would listen to your impassioned pleas, I will change my mind. I will not.

    Clear?

  24. 24
    Chimera Says:

    And if it’s not clear by now, my email address is on my blog. Send me your phone number.

    Because I’ve got one beaut of a bridge I need to persuade you that you need to buy…

  25. 25

    Yes. That is more clear. Thank you, Chimera.

  26. 26
    Chimera Says:

    You are welcome, Kyle.

    And thank you. I really didn’t want to sell that bridge…

  27. 27
    littlepatti Says:

    P.S: Sorry. It just occured to me to give you a path to navigate:
    Mining towns in Canada by littlepatti@wordPress.

    God-Sent was published August 14, 2007
    Beautiful People was published November 10, 2007

  28. 28
    littlepatti Says:

    Prior to the P.S. I had invited you to read 2 entries on my blog, to further this discussion.

    I guess I made the comment and forgot to send it…so, look at the time!


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