The Ethics of Keeping a Baby Who May Be Disabled

Thankfully the world is changing when it comes to the realm of human disability. No longer do we all subscribe to a policy of perfection at all costs. Historically, human beings shunned those among us who limped or were crippled in any way. We, as a species, like so many other types of animals, maintained a strict ‘only the strong shall survive’ creed. There was no room for those that could not fend for themselves. Babies were hard enough to keep alive as it was, without any doubt about their future to carry on our family lines.

The Ethics of Keeping a Baby Who May Be Disabled

Today, we live in a world, that, for most of us, is infinitely better than it was for our ancestors. Hunger and disease have been reduced to bit players in most communities in the western world. That wealth has enabled parents to choose the life of their child, despite the likelihood, that he or she, may be born with a disability. Science is giving us early warnings about things that we previously would never have known. This new foresight has enabled parents and doctors to prepare for these eventualities.

The question over whether a severely disabled child should be brought into this world has become more acute for parents, medical science, and for us as a community. For those in the caring professions, who have tangible experience of caring for the severely disabled, they feel it is their right and responsibility to voice humane arguments against allowing these lives of apparent suffering. Is it just to wilfully condemn a new born child to a life constrained by extreme physical disability? Is it not more humane to terminate these pregnancies immediately? Snip them in the bud, so to speak, before they can truly begin?

The ethics of keeping a baby who may be disabled is a complex matter; and disabilities exist on a continuum and a spectrum. There is, in this day and age, far more societal support for children with disabilities in many places around the globe. Within our communities, we must come to terms with our values around the sanctity of human life and where the line is, regarding, quality of life. Pro and anti-abortion debates continue in most countries world-wide. The ‘Right to Life’ is a banner held high, but the discussion must include what kind of life that refers to. It is a difficult discussion to have, but it must be had.