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Is It Really Inhumane to Give Birth to the Disabled? - Benjamin Caro

Benjamin Caro

Is It Really Inhumane to Give Birth to the Disabled?

rachelcreative Photo by Rachel Groves

I was listening to an NPR story about the affects of the horrifying and unforeseen affects of the leprosy treatment drug Thalidomide. Many children whose mothers took the drug were born with the defect phocomelia, resulting in a “shortening or absence of the limbs.” A woman expressed her opinion on these mothers:

“I think it’s inhumane to bring a child with this sort of hardship into the world just because of your carelessness.”

The notion struck me. Is it really more humane to keep the child from being born, or if you must, should you give birth to someone knowing they will face disability and hardship?

There are people (plenty) whose bodies are fully formed and minds are fully informed, and yet chemically or emotionally they are “disabled,” they are in pain. Why does the woman above think that a disabled child is more inhumanely brought into the universe than a person who might go through life struggling with self-hating thoughts? Will there be a way to test for the possibility of depression in unborn children in the future?

I might argue it’s more humane to bring into the world a disabled person who is emotionally happy than a physically functioning person with emotional problems.

One day we might look back and say to ourselves…

How primitive that we didn’t allow children to be born because they wouldn’t be able to walk.
How primitive that we allowed children to be born even though they wouldn’t be able to love themselves.

Again, we now place the visual and physical higher in importance because it is more prominent, more apparent, even though we know that appearances are not everything — in fact, very little.

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