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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » In Canada, birth defects are leading to abortions

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Author Topic: In Canada, birth defects are leading to abortions
Dzuunmod
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So, it seems that women in Canada, upon discovering that the potential babies in their bodies have birth defects, are getting abortions more than in the past.

The same study which revealed that also says that while the rate of birth defects are staying fairly stable, the increase in abortions in such situations means that babies with birth defects are being born less often.

I hope that all makes sense. If it doesn't, visit the link.

Is this another step further down the road to designer babies? What do we think of abortion as a method of choosing babies?

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"...the airport's always almost empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well."
-The Weakerthans


Posts: 1515 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Aria51
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As someone with a child with genetic defects, I'd say I can't wholly blame these women for not wanting to carry these children to term. It is extremely difficult to raise a child with minor defects like mine has, and I can imagine it would be an even worse time having one with severe defects. It's not a matter of how much someone would or would not *love* the child, it's a matter of interests and parenting abilities that they may or may not have. Some people just do not have the patience and resources to care for such a child, or have no interest in spending the extra time every day it takes to take care of these kids. And if they aren't interested or able, I think it is more responsible for them to abort than for them to carry the pregnancy to term and give the child up for adoption. Very few people who are looking to adopt a child would be interested in adopting a child with disabilities or a child with birth defects. They exist out there somewhere, but there are not nearly enough people like that for the amount of children waiting to be adopted. As much as it sucks, that's just the way it is.

Also, one can't help but take into account the difficulty a child with severe birth defects might encounter throughout life. In some cases adults who were born with defects and disabilities are unable to care for themselves, and have a hard time establishing their independance. Children who have medical problems that stem from defects may suffer great amounts of illness and pain through their lives. Many parents I know would not like to even think of their child having a hard life, and perhaps this is why a lot of women are aborting -- they see it as the best alternative for that pregnancy.

If it were me, I would still choose to have the child, but I am glad that the choice would exist for me.

[This message has been edited by Aria51 (edited 05-29-2002).]


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logic_grrl
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This isn't news - the main reason tests like amniocentesis were invented in the first place was to enable fetuses with conditions like Down's syndrome to be "screened for" and (usually) aborted, and this has been going on for a good few decades.

It's important to note that "birth defects" covers an incredibly wide range of conditions - a few of the conditions which would show up on an amnio, like Trisomy 18, lead to inevitable death after a very short and painful life. Others, like Down's syndrome, lead to significant disabilities which don't prevent the person from having a happy and productive life. Others, like Klinefelter's syndrome (where someone has XYY sex chromosomes), aren't "disabilities" at all in a strict sense (see http://www.scarleteen.com/politics/gender.html , which is in part about having Klinefelter's).

Personally, I support a woman's right to have an abortion for whatever reason. Her body, her choice.

But as a person with a disability, it bothers me if the presence of a disability *automatically* converts a wanted fetus into an unwanted fetus (just as I'm bothered by the use of abortion to prevent the birth of female babies, which is sometimes practiced in some countries which value sons highly). Many disability activists have argued that women making these decisions are usually not given full or accurate information about the lives of adults with disabilities and are made to feel that a child with any sort of disability or abnormality would be "better off" not being born, when this may not be the case at all.

And individual choices, even when informed, are often made on the basis not of the quality of life a child *could* have in an ideal world, but on the likely realities in a society which often provides only minimal support (if that) for kids with disabilities and their families. If society actually provided adequate support, some women might choose differently. The social context affects the decisions that get made.

[This message has been edited by logic_grrl (edited 05-29-2002).]


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Aria51
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quote:
Originally posted by logic_grrl:
it bothers me if the presence of a disability *automatically* converts a wanted fetus into an unwanted fetus (just as I'm bothered by the use of abortion to prevent the birth of female babies, which is sometimes practiced in some countries which value sons highly). Many disability activists have argued that women making these decisions are usually not given full or accurate information about the lives of adults with disabilities and are made to feel that a child with any sort of disability or abnormality would be "better off" not being born, when this may not be the case at all.

Excellent point, logic_grrl. I was thinking something similar, but couldn't put it into words as well as you have.


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Beppie
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I pretty much agree with what has already been said here- defects detected in the womb should not automatically mean that a woman must have an abortion. Once a disabled child is born, they should be treated as a valuable life, in the same way that any other child would be treated, and not pushed into a "should have been aborted" class.

However, it is a woman's choice, and I don't think its particularly a bad thing if a woman or a couple decide to abort because its revealed that a fetus has some sort of genetic defect. Just so long as this does not devalue the lives of children who are born with such problems.


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Miss Thang
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In a way, this whole idea kinda creeps me out. When I think it through, I realize that of course, it'd be terribly hard to raise a child with a disability. And I am so pro-choice, and it doesn't matter WHAT the reason is- a woman has the right to an abortion if she so chooses.

But initially, this idea reminded me of Hitler trying to create a Utopian society by weeding out the people he considered to be imperfect. Please don't hear me wrong. I have a feeling I will have to explain myself later. Ok here's a better analogy- this reminds me of the movie Gattaca. It's a really good movie- you should rent it if you haven't seen it. (Ethan Hawke and Jude Law are nice to look at) But in that movie (it's set in the future)- every family gets to basically choose what they want their child to be like. And it's almost a Utopia; where everybody is incredibly smart and physically fit and healthy and gainfully employed. Which of course is nice but it has its downfalls.

Of course choosing whether to keep a disabled child is nowhere near choosing who you want your child to be- but with all the medical breakthroughs and technological advancements, are we very far from that? Well, enough of my senseless ramblings. It was just a thought. Just something to think about.

[This message has been edited by Miss Thang (edited 05-29-2002).]


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cupcake
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quote:
it bothers me if the presence of a disability *automatically* converts a wanted fetus into an unwanted fetus

let's see if my html works....

It shouldn't.
But shouldn't it be the parents' choice?

Maybe it's just me.... I've always been Pro-Choice, simply because I don't like the idea of someone telling me I HAVE to keep something against my will. Maybe I never will, but I believe you should have the OPTION.


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logic_grrl
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quote:
It shouldn't.
But shouldn't it be the parents' choice?

Absolutely. That's why I specifically said that I supported a woman's right to have an abortion for whatever reason - however much I may happen to disagree with some possible reasons.

For example, in some countries where sons are valued highly, it's known that some families use amniocentesis for sex selection - detecting and aborting female fetuses so that the parents can "start again" in the hope of getting a son. You can be pro-choice and still be appalled and extremely concerned about what this says about such a society's attitude to women.

Similarly, you can be pro-choice and still be concerned at a society in which it's often *taken for granted* by doctors that parents will abort a fetus if an amniocentesis reveals any abnormality, however mild.


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lemming
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I think all of you, Aria, and Beppie, and logic_grrl, and everyone have basically said what I wanted to, and probably better than me.

Raising a child with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, etc. is a very hard thing to do, and I really admire the people who I know who work with these children and have the time, patience, and money to raise them. However, there are many parents who just barely afford the money and patience and time to raise children without disabilities.

I can see how it might be a more humane choice to abort a child than to cause this child to be without the help or medical resources it needs to live a good life, and in the worst cases, to save it from abuse from parents, relatives, and outsiders who don't understand what the child's going through. If a mother doesn't feel she can be a good and loving parent to ANY child then something needs to be done, whether it's to rectify her situation, to choose abortion or adoption. No need to place one more child into an awful situation - not the situation of living with a disability, which many people I know cope with well and happily, but the situation of being denied basic needs and respect...


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UKgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by logic_grrl:

Similarly, you can be pro-choice and still be concerned at a society in which it's often *taken for granted* by doctors that parents will abort a fetus if an amniocentesis reveals any abnormality, however mild.

I think that parents should be able to amke an informed decision as to whether or not to abort, having been told what disabilities the child may have. On the other hand I agree whole heartedly that there is a problem that it is assumed a woman will want to abort a disabled fetus. When my mother was pregnant with my younger brother she refusd to undergo the test to see whether he would be down-syndrome. She said that she didn't need the test, as she would want to keep the baby even if it were disabled. Despite this the doctors still wanted her to have the test and really had a go at her for refusing.

I was wondering, in the US are the laws about aborting disabled fetuses different from those about other abortions. Here (UK) women are normally allowed to abort in the first 24 weeks, but if the fetus is disabled she can abort at any time. Is this the same in the US? What do you think of this?

[This message has been edited by UKgirl (edited 01-12-2003).]


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Rizzo
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This is the very reason that if/when I decide to be a mom, I don't want any testing of my fetus or ultrasound.
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logic_grrl
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Some parents do choose to have pre-natal testing on the basis that they wouldn't have an abortion if the fetus has a disability, but would like to know in advance so that they can be as prepared as possible.
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