Discourse / Letters / May 16, 2012

Letter to the Editor: In response to ‘Don’t abort babies with Down syndrome’

Dear Mr. Uzarowicz,

Choosing not to have a child with a severe handicap doesn’t constitute “perfecting life,” with all of the dystopian and eugenic connotations the phrase implies. It is, rather, a preventative measure similar to couples undergoing genetic counseling before having children if either partner is the potential carrier for a genetic condition such as Huntington’s disease. This reluctance to carry a disabled child to term isn’t motivated by the child’s appearance or racism (as is bizarrely implied in your discussion of “Mongoloidism”). This devalues the pain of countless parents caring for handicapped/ill children. It’s the fear of losing a child or watching a child suffer that motivates the choice not to bring such a child into the world, not petty embarrassment at an “abnormal” baby.

Furthermore, while lifestyle factors are also a concern in such situations, this isn’t a sign of “selfishness.” It’s incredibly hard to provide care for an ill child and cruel to have a child who’ll require constant care that you cannot financially or emotionally provide. Even in the absence of such difficulties, it’s still not “selfish” to abort what would be a handicapped or ill child. Until a child is born, it’s part of the mother’s body. It isn’t “selfish” for her to choose what she’ll do with her body and life. Perhaps if you further empathize with people who are pregnant or caring for a special needs infant, you’ll rethink your position regarding “selfishness” and the very private and intimate nature of partnership and family.

Saskia Vera Pellnat

Class of 2013

Saskia Vera Pellnat

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