If you knew that your child was going to be born with a mental disability, would you abort them? As much as I would hope to hear everyone answer ‘no’ to that question, unfortunately some would say yes, and without hesitation.
Last night, I was reading an article about a couple who have two children, both with a mental illness. After reading the article, I scrolled down to the comment section. It wasn’t long before I angrily walked away from the computer.
Some people mentioned that the couple should have never had kids to begin with, knowing that mental illness ran in their families. Others said that they could have avoided the whole ordeal, had prenatal genetic testing been available for the diagnosis of mental disorders.
If they were to have their wish, millions of people would not be alive today. People who have contributed amazing things to this world. People who have touched our hearts and changed our perspectives.
The article was focused on children with schizophrenia. I won’t deny that having a child with such a severe mental illness would be difficult. It would, for both the child and the parent. However, that does not mean that the chance at life should be taken away from them. With the proper therapy, medications (if needed) and supportive environment, these kids can grow up to have wonderful lives.
Where do you draw the line?
Let’s just say they got their wish, and doctors start aborting babies with schizophrenia. That would only be the beginning. Eventually, they would be aborting children with all types of mental disorders. No more children with down syndrome, asperger’s or autism. While we’re at it, let’s not forget about the other mental issues like depression, bipolar disorder and ADD. If those run in your family, just don’t have children. Problem solved.
(I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm.)
My son is Autistic.
What these people are saying by their comments, is that had I known that my son was going to be autistic, I should have aborted him. I should have aborted my precious son.
That amazing boy who has shown me a world that I never could have seen without him. The boy who has made me laugh, smile and cry tears of joy. My son, the one who has given me life, through his life.
My son deserves a chance at life just like everyone else.
Just because he is Autistic, does not mean that his life is doomed. He gets to experience life and the world, in a way that most people could only dream of. His happiness is pure. His love is genuine. He does not pretend to be something he’s not. He sees the small details in the world. The beautiful and magnificent details that we are blind to.
He is not abnormal.
What defines normal? Experiencing sadness, anger and hurt? Feeling the pressures of peers and the loneliness of not having enough friends? Laughing out of obligation and flippantly saying “I love you”?
If that’s what defines ‘normal’, then I wouldn’t want him to be normal.
He is successful.
What defines success? A college degree, a mortgage, a fancy career title?
My son may never have any of those, but he is successful. He’s learned to communicate, write and read. He just finished reading his second book! He’s becoming more independent every day and he’s made it all the way to high school. All of which the ‘professionals’ said that he would never do. That’s success!
Oh wait, I forgot…
It is the belief of some people that babies with mental disorders should be aborted.
That must mean that my son’s success is meaningless. Not only that, but I could have avoided all the tantrums, destroying of items, his finger ‘painting’ on the walls and changing his diapers until he was 8 years old.
Had I aborted him, I could have avoided all of that. So I suppose to them, it must be rather unfortunate that I kept him.
It’s so unfortunate that in three hours from now, my precious son is going to happily walk through the door, with a big smile on his face when he sees me.
It’s so unfortunate, that he is going to sit down with me and tell me about the day he had in school. About how much he loves art and science.
It’s so unfortunate that tonight, I will sit down with my son and listen to him read.
It’s so unfortunate that he will give me a hug ‘goodnight’ and tell me he loves me as I step out of his room.
Hard times and all, there has not been a single day that I’ve regretted having my son. I cannot image my life with him. He is my life.
What do you think? Who deserves life? My answer – everyone.
All opinions are welcome here, and I will not be offended if you disagree. Sharing our opinions is part of what blogging is all about. So please, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts.
You are right 🙂
All of us deserve a chance.
Thank you, Irene. I certainly believe they do.
The people who say others shouldn’t “breed in” “defective” babies into the general population probably shouldn’t do so themselves. If they are incapable of exerting the necessary time and effort it takes to provide a constructive environment for a child who will have additional hurdles to jump to thrive in than they absolutely should take the steps necessary not to bring a life into this world that will be set up to fail because of their (the parents) own lack of understanding. However, for the parents that are willing to work a little harder, deal with more frustrations and never accept that things will be “impossible” for their children, they shouldn’t let the possibility that their child will be born with different attributes than a “normal” child would stop them from having one, or two or ten. The lessons that one can learn from having a child who is considered “different” will be absolutely lost on a percentage of the population, don’t waste your energy being mad at them and stressing yourself out. Instead just remind yourself that you get it, you can go to sleep at night knowing you were given the opportunity to expand your perception and you took it and never looked back.
I agree with you. If they can’t handle the possibility of having a child who may have issues, then they shouldn’t conceive one to begin with. With that said, no child is easy to raise, disability or not. In that case, they should think twice no matter what.
I shouldn’t be upset with them. They just don’t understand, but it breaks my heart to hear people dictate who and who should not be given a chance at life.
I didn’t read the article you referenced or the comments that got you so upset. As you know, I support a woman’s right to choose, but I don’t think that right should be abused. I don’t know if you knew that your son would be autistic before he was born, but if you did, it’s nobody’s place to tell you what you should or should not have done. It’s your personal and private decision.
Every situation is different. Perhaps someone who becomes aware of physical or mental issue with their fetus knows that they don’t have the wherewithal to support such a baby after delivery and makes the decision to have an abortion. That’s their decision to make. It’s not your decision or anyone else’s decision. No one is saying you must make the same decision should you be faced with the same situation. And, in my opinion, that’s the way it should be.
Once again, I’m not “pro-abortion” per se. I don’t believe it should be used as a form of birth control and I always think it’s a last resort. But I am for leaving abortion on the table as a legal option for women who are dealing with an unplanned, unwanted, or troubled pregnancy.
I know this is a controversial topic and that we differ in our opinions. But what is right for you isn’t necessarily right for someone else. And whatever decision you make shouldn’t have to be the only decision available to others.
And for what it’s worth, I don’t think there are many pregnant women who make the decision to have an abortion “without hesitation.”
I and happy to hear that you believe that it should be done only had a last resort. I also agree that it is the woman’s decision, whether I agree with it or not. I would not judge anyone for making that kind of decision nor would I look at them any differently for doing so. Having said all that, there is (almost) always the option for adoption. Why can’t people utilize that more, instead of not giving the baby a chance at life? It’s not for me to say and I wouldn’t. However, I do feel as you do, that abortion shouldn’t be abused. (Sorry for my late reply. Several comments, including yours didn’t show up in my notifications.)
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“…there is (almost) always the option for adoption. Why can’t people utilize that more, instead of not giving the baby a chance at life?”
Well, there’s a bit of a math problem here. In the US there are fewer than 130,000 annual adoptions of American babies. And there are around a million abortions a year in this country. So you have to wonder, with over a million abortions each year and only 130,000 adoptions, what would happen to those 900,000 or so babies who aren’t aborted and aren’t adopted?
Sure, if the baby is white and in good health, its chances of being adopted are much, much better than if the baby is black or Hispanic. And if the baby is not in perfect health, the odds of being adopted drop even further.
So no, there is not almost always the option for adoption. What happens to so many of these babies whose mothers choose to deliver, but who cannot support or care for their babies? They end up as wards of the state. They are shoved into the already stressed and marginally effective foster care system. Imagine if abortion were illegal and another million babies a year were born in this country each year. The system would become even more overwhelmed. Many of these babies would be raised in poverty, often neglected, undernourished, and not very well cared for.
You may, for either religious or moral reasons, oppose abortion, but the ramifications of pulling it off the table as an option and eliminating that as a choice are staggering for our society. Each woman should have the opportunity to make the best decision for her situation and circumstances.
Again, no woman is forced to have an abortion against her will and no woman should be forced to deliver a baby against her will. In my opinion, anyway.
There is a large problem when it comes to adoptions, but it’s not the lack of homes or willing caregivers. It’s the cost. The cost of adopting a child is way beyond what most people can afford. Trust me, there are many people who would love to adopt, but can’t. The real problem isn’t the adoption side of it. It’s the system that’s behind it.
Like I said before, a woman can choose to do whatever she wishes. I may not agree, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s her choice. I wouldn’t judge her for it. How could I? I may not have had an abortion, but I’ve certainly done my fair share of things to be judged for also. So, I may not like someone’s choice, but I wouldn’t judge them for it, just like I wouldn’t want them to judge me.
Okay, don’t read comments on those articles! You know that! It takes a very special person to deal with adversity and still have a smile on their face – obviously there are a lot of people out there that can’t handle a bumpy road – but I just think about how much they miss out on!
I really shouldn’t, but that’s where the ‘real’ article is at. A bumpy road is not for everyone and I understand that. But, I think many of them would change their mind if they had to experience it for themselves. Maybe not all, but most. They would realize, as you said, all those wonderful things that they would have missed out on otherwise.
I am sure that almost everyone would change their mind, but there’s a reason why not everyone gets the blessing of a special child 🙂
Everyone deserves life. If we were to choose those who should live, does that mean the world would be devoid of those considered ‘unfit to live’? Some people are born healthy but due to various circumstances, they end up with mental disorders. From a Christian’s perspective, only God has the power to choose who lives or not.
You’re an amazing mother. I admire you for your strength, raising an autistic son. Not many can do it, because it’s not easy. 🙂
Exactly, and can you imagine the types of people they could (and eventually would) determine that are unfit.to live? Reminds me of Hitler. There’s no difference. He wanted to preserve only what he considered to be the ‘perfect’ people, and that’s exactly what these people are suggesting.I completely agree with you. We do not have the right to choose who lives and who doesn’t.
Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been worth it. 🙂
I’m sorry, but the argument that abortion is a “gateway” procedure to deciding what living, breathing human beings are unfit to live is a spurious argument at best. And seriously, mewhoami, using the “Hitler argument”? Really? What people are suggesting that only those considered to be perfect should be allowed to live? If perfection were a requirement for people to be allowed to stay alive, humanity would be wiped out because there is such thing as a perfect person.
Sorry, it should read “there is no such thing as a perfect person.”
I absolutely believe it’s a gateway. Everything starts off small. This is no different. As far as humanity being wiped out since no one is perfect, I agree with you. I didn’t say that anyone was perfect. I said that Hitler wanted a perfect people, a master race. He weeded out the unfit, including those with disabilities and mental disorders. For that reason, there is certainly a valid comparison.
It is a difficult decision for a woman to make in any situation. I am pleased that you chose to have your son because he has enriched your life immeasurably. For many, it may not have worked out in the same way.
I don’t believe another person has the right to make life and death decisions for others. However, it is a reality that they do. I only wish that those who hide behind their keyboards didn’t feel the need to force their opinions on everyone else.
Thank you, Sue. I also am very happy to have my son. He has taught me a great deal and brought so much happiness into my life. I don’t think people should be able to make life and death decisions either, but I do understand that it’s not always black and white. I just think that people should be very careful, because once a line gets crossed, where does it end? That’s a scary thought. Keyboards and computer screens do have a way of giving courage to people, to speak their minds. At the end of the day though, we all still have some type of reputation to uphold, right? I’d like to think so.
We are of an age where we care about reputation. Many of those who hide behind their keyboards either don’t care or haven’t matured enough to realise the importance of a good reputation.
These are such painful and difficult topics. There are moral, humane, medical and economic impacts for society as a whole, for individuals who face these decisions and for the unborn whose fate lies in the hands of others.
For you, I cringe at the thought that a loving gifted parent like you should ever be made to feel defensive about bringing your child into the world. I’m sorry that you have had to endure that. If insensitive remarks are made, I’d assume that person wouldn’t have the capacity to parent as you do.
As far as “choice”, the most difficult question for me is determining the point when a woman’s right to choose conflicts with an unborn’s right to life. My opinion is those rights, and limitations on them, should be evolving as medical advances evolve.
You’re right. There are so many elements involved in this. In fact, there could be a separate post for each one, but I think I’ll stick to this one for now. 🙂
The comments that inspired this post weren’t directly toward me. It was the idea behind the comments that got me and because they hit close to home. As much as I’d like to say that these people couldn’t raise children with disabilities, they might even surprise themselves. It’s amazing the strength a person gets when faced with such difficulties. I learned that real well.
With all the medical advancements we have now, you would think that the abortion rate would be decreasing. Sadly, what it’s also doing is enabling people to abort for new reasons. It’s a very difficult topic, one with no black and white answer.
Sadly, some people who believe themselves to be ‘normal’, believe they have the right to pass judgment on the value of other’s lives. These people need to remember that if they and others get the “authority” to make these calls they open themselves up to the same judgment. And there are those who may find their existence subpar and unworthy.
The unfortunate are those who can not see the beauty of life in all of it’s glorious differences.
You’re right. They don’t understand it, so they pass judgement. They sure wouldn’t want it to turn around on them would they? Any judgement on a person can backfire.
Those who feel that way miss out on so much. Thank you!
You’re welcome! 🙂
The people writing comments and hiding behind their anonymity are ignorant and cowards in my opinion. I agree with all of the points you have made. That being said, I will tell you I have a cousin who 20 years ago was pregnant with her third child. She had amniocentesis because she was in her late 30’s and it was recommended to find out if the baby might have down syndrome. The test came back positive. She chose to have an abortion and was very open about her reasons why. She said she knew she would not be able to handle it, she knew the impact it would have on the life of her family, and she just could not do it. To this day I have respected her decision, because if that child had been brought into this world, with a mother unable to cope, the ramifications could be devastating to all. Maybe if she had not known the child would be born with down syndrome she would have rallied and found she loved this child and things would work out within the family dynamic. I am sure there are women who get a positive test result for Downs and make the decision to have the child. It was not for me to judge her on her decision. I felt she was making a decision based on knowing her own limitations.
I’m sorry that your cousin had to make such a tough decision. I can’t imagine that. You’re right in that we have no right to judge those who make that decision. Granted, I may disagree with them. I am a big supporter of life and in those instances where a person can’t handle a child (for whatever reason), there is always the option to put them up for adoption. So many people out there wish they could have children, but can’t. Down syndrome children are some of the purest, kindest people I’ve ever met. Sure, their early years are difficult and their life requires ongoing support, but when they get a chance at life, they not only live, but they enjoy living. With all that said, if someone chooses the route that your cousin did, I’d still love them all the same. It wouldn’t change my opinion of them.
I agree with you whole heartedly about children and adults with Down Syndrome- I have friends who were devastated when giving birth to a downs baby, but years later said they cannot imagine life without them- the special things the child brought to their family. The positive changes that took place in all of them. But I do suppose not everybody can get through the difficulty of acceptance- and getting through the challenges that will arise when having a child with special needs. You have been there- and have stepped up to the plate for your son mightily- it is unfortunate not everyone can muster that strength and unconditional love.
It does require a great deal of strength and determination to raise a child with any type of disorder. I had many days that I didn’t think I could do it any longer, so I understand how some people can’t. That can be especially true if they don’t have a good support system. It’s hard. There’s no denying that. But, it is worth it.
I do agree with you. You are a pretty amazing person- and your writing is important for people out there who need an eye opener and to learn from
Unless you walk a mile in someone elses shoes you have no right to comment on their life or choices. That is my opinion and when I completely disagree i try to remember that. I do think that while it is not the mothering you imagined it is obvious your son will change your life probably for the better, in a way our “normal” children will not.
Love to you and your son. xx
I completely agree with you, and it goes both ways. I wouldn’t want someone to judge me for having my child, just as much as they wouldn’t want me to judge them for not having theirs. Who are any of us to judge anyone? As far as my son changing my life more than a ‘normal’ child could have, I think so. At least in some ways. No one else sees the world like he does and that’s such a gift.
But you have judged them. I have a disability myself that is both physical and mental. If I knew before hand that my son would have been born with sever challenges, I would have seriously considered abortion. Whether I would have gone through with it — I don’t know. I didn’t have to face the situation. My son was healthy and still is. Just because someone else has judged, it doesn’t give me the right to judge them.
I haven’t judged the person, only the action. The person makes up in their mind what they choose to do, but it doesn’t change who the person is. They may be the sweetest person I know and make, what I would consider to be a terrible mistake. But, they’ d still be the sweetest person I know. Just like parents, they don’t like what their children do, but it doesn’t change their opinion of them – or at least shouldn’t. I agree with you that two wrongs don’t make a right. My intention is not to judge anyone. It is to see the bigger picture and how their ideas (not them) could open the door to many other issues down the road.
Not sure whether or not you saw this at some point in OM’s comments when he first brought up abortion, but I’ll repeat it just in case. It was a long time ago.
When I was pregnant with Alex, my 10 week ultrasound showed that he had fluid on the back of his neck and his heart was enlarged. I was told that this could go away at birth or it could cause severe problems. I had the amnio to see if he had Down’s and it came back negative. I doubt I would have aborted him if he had – even though I already had a severely autistic five year old at home.
As it turned out, he has Noonan Syndrome. His heart was so enlarged at birth that he needed open heart surgery. I had a choice then – take the fifty/fifty chance that he would survive the surgery or not get it, in which case he would last maybe a year before his cardiac issues became too much. During the surgery his heart stopped and the surgeon had to restart it with his bare hands. Keep in mind, your heart is approximately the size of your fist, no matter how old you are. The doctor got that tiny little heart started again, but he came to say that if it stopped again, he wouldn’t try. Chances of survival were so so slim.
Had I any idea that we were all going to have to go through that, I might have actually aborted him. In the end, I had to make the decision anyway.
All this to say, the question isn’t always that cut and dry. I found out that I could handle a lot more than I ever imagined I could, but it hasn’t been easy. I’m glad I wasn’t given the information I needed to have made the decision while he was still in the womb.
Alex’s mental capacity is no better than Chris’s, my autistic son. But we manage. He’s the happiest little kid you could ever want to meet. Yet I’ll probably have to make the decision again one day for him to have open-heart surgery again. The decision won’t be any easier, I’m sure, to take the risk of him dying on a table I put him on, or let him live without going through months of recovery for a year more. Sometimes it just never ends.
Have you ever written a post, and hoped a specific person would reply? In this case it was you. Thank you.
You’re right. It is not always cut and dry. I cannot imagine going through all of the hurdles that you went through. Also having 2 children with disabilities/disorders would be very, very difficult. I dread that day for you, were you have to make that decision for Alex again…
I’m sure that many people, if they had the chance and knew beforehand, that their situations would have turned out much differently. Once you have them though, as you have found out, there are so many rewards…even throughout all the hard times.
We just have to count our blessings, don’t we?
Knowing this, I’m glad I commented. 🙂 Thanks for a thought-provoking post, my dear.
All babies have the right to life. Aborting a baby is killing a human being and it causes pain to the baby. They already have the nerves to feel the pain. It’s exactly as you said, “Where do you draw the line?” All so that the mother, or other family members don’t have to have their personal peace disrupted. Awfully selfish I say. Unfortunately in this post-modern world of ours, the values of personal peace and affluence have become God.
My son has Asperger’s syndrome. And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any differently. He’s unique. He’s full of love. He’s honest and loyal. I love him to pieces. What a shame that others would want to abort because they don’t want the ‘hassle’ of raising someone like that.
Great post girl.
I agree with you. They can feel pain and that’s been proven. That breaks my heart just thinking about it. Sadly you’re right about some people just not wanting their lives interrupted. For some, it’s not even about the baby. It’s about them. That is selfish.
Yes! They are amazing children aren’t they? There are so many qualities that my son has that I wish I had too. They are excellent teachers for how we should live, love and be genuine.
My last child was born after I turned 35. The doctor thought it would be a great idea to have an amnio. I went along with it, but only to be prepared if I had a child with Down’s Syndrome. I would never have aborted, I just wanted to prepare myself. Being a person with a mental illness, preparation is a key for survival for me. Some people should just keep their fingers off the keyboard.
I appreciate your reasoning for having the test done. People would greatly benefit by knowing that information beforehand. It would certainly help to be mentally prepared. I agree that some people just shouldn’t say anything at all. Maybe I was a bit too harsh in this post as well, but it’s easy to be offended by such absurd statements when you have a child who likely fits into their idea of elimination.
I would have been just as offended. Ignorant statements from people like that irk me to no end.
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I lost the majority of my sight at about 18-months-old as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain. I appreciate my quality of life and am glad I am round to enjoy it! I think, ultimately abortion is a very personal choice but we should aim for a society in which it becomes a rarity. Kevin
I’m sorry to hear about your loss of vision, but so happy to know that you have not let that stand in your way of happiness. Even though we may not always have the abilities that others do, we still have so very much to be grateful for. I think that it’s a personal choice too, but would love to see the day when it’s not so common.
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