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May 31, 2006

Imperfection Will Not Be Tolerated

First the background:

Club foot is one of the most common birth defects in Britain. About one in 1,000 babies is affected, meaning that 600 to 700 infants are born with the condition every year. It results in the feet pointing downwards and inwards, and in severe cases can cause foot deformity and a limp.

However, it is relatively easy to correct and in recent years techniques of splints, plaster casts and boots to set the foot into the correct position have replaced the need for surgery.Club foot is occasionally connected with serious but rare chromosomal defects, although specialists point out that these can also be screened out before birth with additional tests.

Relatively common, but easily correctable. The article that this comes from notes a couple of families where the child has recovered well enough to, in one case, play football. It mentions celebrities like Dudley Moore and Kristi Yamaguchi.

So do you think that should an ultrasound detect this condition in a fetus that a normally illegal 3rd trimester abortion should be allowed? In England, where they are illegal except for cases where the child would have a "serious handicap", the goal posts keep being pushed, and they've arrived at a new low on the slippery slope.

MORE than 20 babies have been aborted in advanced pregnancy because scans showed that they had club feet, a deformity readily corrected by surgery or physiotherapy.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics covering the years from 1996 to 2004, a further four babies were aborted because they had webbed fingers or extra digits, which are also corrected by simple surgery. All the terminations took place late in pregnancy, after 20 weeks.

Last year, according to campaigners, a healthy baby was aborted in the sixth month at a hospital in southeast England after ultrasound images indicated part of its foot was missing.

News of the terminations has reignited the debate over how scanning and gene technology may enable the creation of "designer babies". In 2002 it emerged that a baby had been aborted late - at 28 weeks - after scans found that it had a cleft palate, another readily corrected condition.

Safe, legal, and increasingly common, abortions are now the way we tolerate imperfection; we don't. It used to be that abortions were a last resort in serious cases. Today, they happen over minor imperfections. Tomorrow, a government-run medical system may be deciding who stays and who goes.
Some parents, doctors and charities are increasingly worried by what they see as a tendency to widen the definition of “serious handicap”. The handicap provision, which does not exist in most other countries, permits abortions to be carried out until birth. It was intended to save women from the trauma of giving birth to babies likely to die in infancy.

And the law of unintended consequences, aided by those who see abortion as somehow "freeing" and by those who have a buck to make on it, has taken that foot in the door and opened it wide, allowing all manner of simple contraception to be passed off as "serious handicap". Compromise when a life is on the line is a death sentence in the abortion debate. This is not a matter of prediction, or personal or political opinion; it's our planet's history. This was no doubt a compromise "for the children", but it's clearly been turned into one against them.

By the way, not all doctors are "increasingly worried".

“It was strongly suggested that we consider abortion after they found our baby had a club foot,” said David Wildgrove, 41, a computer programmer from Sheffield, whose son Alexander was born in 1996. “I was appalled. We resisted, the problem was treated and he now runs around and plays football with everyone else.”

Pippa Spriggs from Cambridge, whose son Isaac will celebrate his second birthday in July, was also dismayed when a scan halfway through the pregnancy revealed that her baby had the defect.

“Abortion certainly was not openly advised, but it was made clear to me it was available,” she said. “In fact he has been treated and the condition has not slowed him down at all.”

There are still enough for whom the phrase in their oath "do no harm" is given wide latitude.

But our convenience society and the push by the Left to let people feel better about aborting their babies has caused some to turn a deaf ear to their own children.

Others take a different view and decide not to accept the risk of an imperfect baby. Sue Banton, who founded the group Steps for parents of children with foot disorders, was troubled that a home counties couple last year decided to terminate their baby, despite counselling to reassure them it would have a worthwhile life even with a section of foot missing.

“We gave them other families to talk to, but they just didn’t want to know. The baby was aborted just before the 25th week,” she said.

“It is terrible. I know lots of perfectly nice people with this condition, and you just can’t imagine them not being here.”

Let me say that I am not advocating the total criminalization of abortion. I still believe there are some situations, but very few, where I think abortions are acceptable, most notably for the life of the mother. And I am under no illusion that making the choice to abort is often a difficult one. Further, I never had to deal with this question of a handicapped child; all four of mine were and are fine and healthy.

At the same time, I think that giving parents the choice of killing their slightly handicapped child isn't in anyone's best interest. I think that allowing abortion to become the contraceptive of last resort is morally wrong, not only for the loss of life of the child, but also for the behavior that it becomes an enabler for. (Essentially, those performing abortion as contraception become codependents for the parents who made poor choices, especially unmarried ones.)

But what's at issue at this point is not the line where a zygote becomes a life, but when a life becomes worth living, and who gets to decide. Is it really the parents' right to kill their otherwise healthy child? If so, the next stop on that slippery slope will be blurring or completely removing that artificial line between inside and outside the womb. Think that's not going to happen?

A GOVERNMENT adviser on genetics has sparked fury by suggesting it might be acceptable to destroy children with ‘defects’ soon after they are born.

John Harris, a member of the Human Genetics Commission, told a meeting at Westminster he did not see any distinction between aborting a fully grown unborn baby at 40 weeks and killing a child after it had been born.

Harris, who is a professor of bioethics at Manchester University, would not be drawn on which defects or problems might be used as grounds for ending a baby’s life, or how old a child might be while it could still be destroyed.

Harris was reported to have said that he did not believe that killing a child was always inexcusable.

In addition, it was claimed that he did not believe that there was any ‘moral change’ that occurred between when the baby was in the womb and when it had been brought into the world.

Harris, who also gives advice to doctors as a member of the ethics committee of the British Medical Association (BMA), is understood to have argued that there was no moral distinction between aborting a foetus found by tests to have defects and disposing of a child where the parents discovered the problems at birth.

That's from 2004, also from Great Britian, and that's certainly not the first time such ideas have been proposed. And this time by a "professor of bioethics", no less. No, if the status quo remains, it won't be the status quo for long.

Again, this is not an issue of personal opinion. There's a plain history to chart of the pushing of the envelope, and plenty of folks in high places ready to continue the push to make abortion safe, legal, and oh-so-convenient for our 21st century lifestyle. This must stop.

Posted by Doug at May 31, 2006 02:45 PM

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There you have it a professor of bioethics further slips down the slope and states what we all know in our hearts: There is no moral difference between an unborn and born child, but rather than take the step to protect the life of all, he further ero... [Read More]

Tracked on June 2, 2006 12:15 AM