A Wrongful Birth? (by Elizabeth Weil, from the New York Times)

I hope you’ll read the latest on Charlie in Progression (#257) but this article, A Wrongful Birth?, on giving birth or aborting a disabled child struck me deeply.

An excerpt: “The moral quandary we find ourselves in [if we discover, via prenatal testing, that our fetus is disabled] pits the ideal of unconditional love of a child against the reality that most of us [who is this? it is not Jim and me] would prefer not to have that unconditional-love relationship with a certain subset of kids.


“….several studies have shown that the raising of children with impairments is on the whole a lot less difficult and a lot less different from raising so-called normal kids than we imagine it will be. ‘Families with severely impaired children do not differ significantly in stresses and burdens from families with normal children,’ [David] Wasserman, [a bioethicist at the University of Maryland,] maintains, citing articles like ‘The Experience of Disability in Families: A Synthesis of Research and Parent Narratives.’ The idea that a handicapped child will destroy a marriage is exaggerated, he told me: ‘A child prodigy can have just as large an impact on a family as a child with cystic fibrosis or Down.'”

I will be posting on this in a few days, after a lot of reflection and a lot of good times with Charlie.

2 Responses to “A Wrongful Birth? (by Elizabeth Weil, from the New York Times)”
  1. mom-nos says:

    Interesting article. That is certainly one quadary faced by some parents who get a poor prenatal diagnosis. I would submit, though, that sometimes the moral quandary pits the unconditional love parents have for their unborn child against the reality that they would be subjecting that much-loved child to a painful life they would never choose for themselves – a Hobbesian existence that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Not all disabilities are created equal.

  2. Mothersvox says:

    I have a very hard time believing the Wasserman assertion that raising our kids doesn’t differ in difficulty from raising typically developing kids.

    I have the NY Times article set aside to read. Can’t wait to read your reflections!

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