Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 for 21: Abortion

I am pro-choice.  I don't believe that government belongs between the patient and the doctor.  This is not because I think abortion is not problematic, but because I think that the dangers of prohibition are greater than those of legalization.  As with drugs and alcohol, prohibition creates a black market, as well as worse quality control and legal recourse for victims.   I remember when the pro-choice slogan was, "Abortion should be safe, legal and rare".  Then that gradually morphed into "...safe, legal and funded."  Can you imagine if the same logic was applied to drugs and alcohol?  If tax money was used to fund pot-smoking college kids under the pretext that in some cases, medical marijuana is justified?  Is abortion becoming any more rare?

As with medical marijuana, I believe that there are cases where abortion is justified.  This decision should remain between the parents and the doctors.  I believe that just as with other medical decisions, patients should be provided with full and accurate information about the nature of the procedure and the level of fetal development.  This should NOT be an easy decision.

Around 90% of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome result in abortion.  This is at a time that medical and educational advances are making unprecedented leaps in the prognosis of children born with Down syndrome.  Instead of seeing these advances, however, most people are seeing fewer and fewer children with Down syndrome in their communities.  As a result, we are left with 20-year-old notions of what the diagnosis means.  Medical professionals, instead of encouraging parents to have their children with Down syndrome, reinforce these outdated notions and encourage aborting children with Down syndrome, whose potential if born is growing with every passing year.

I am reminded of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where the character "John Savage" finds out that in this new society, mosquitoes have been eliminated:

“The Savage nodded, frowning. "You got rid of them. Yes, that's just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether 'tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows or outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them...But you don't do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It's too easy." 

Seems that is what our society is doing with special needs.  Rather than learning to work with the special challenges involved and grow as individuals and as a community, we seek to eliminate the challenges so we don't have to confront them.  Now, certainly we want to promote good prenatal nutrition, avoid drug and alcohol use, etc.  We don't want to induce problems!  But when is a challenge intrinsically a "problem  to be fixed" (e.g. avoiding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and when is it something that we should embrace? Is abortion an acceptable solution to birth defects, or is it a slippery slope to eliminating whole subsets of the population, depriving our whole society of this diversity?

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