ANOTHER VIEW: A duty to choose unselfishly

Share
Related Topics
Dominic Lawson has reacted powerfully to the disappointment of the birth of a daughter with Down's syndrome. He has published his determination to give her unconditional love and support, his joy in her existence and his anger at those who imply it would have been better if his wife "had had the test" that would have diagnosed the condition long before the child was a sentient foetus (his own term) and then aborted.

As a long-time supporter of the Down's Syndrome Association dedicated to caring for families affected by Down's, I applaud his first two sentiments. His is a positive attitude which will ensure that his daughter gets the best possible care and life opportunities.

However, I cannot applaud Mr Lawson's castigation of those doctors and midwives who suggest to newly pregnant women that they have tests to identify abnormalities, then encourage and support them while they have abortions, if they so choose, if the tests are positive. Mr Lawson and his wife had every right to refuse that choice, and it is one I would defend vehemently - even though the Lawsons, of course, will not be paying the full price of their choice.

The hard facts are that it is costly in terms of human effort, compassion, energy, and finite resources such as money, to care for individuals with handicaps (and to hell with political correctness; there is more to these dilemmas than mere "learning difficulties").

Other children of the families pay the price of less attention and support for themselves and later responsibility for their siblings when their parents are no longer able to care for the weaker child themselves - and we all share that burden. All over the UK, there are people with various handicaps struggling to cope with state-supported institutional life after living with devoted parents until those parents were too old to cope or were dead. People who are not yet parents should ask themselves if they have the right to inflict such burdens on others, however willing they are themselves to take their share of the burden in the beginning. The right to choose implies the duty to choose as unselfishly as possible, surely?

Yes, of course there is the possibility that Mr Lawson's baby daughter will be one of the fortunate ones who is only mildly affected by her chromosomal abnormalities. She may be able to live a comparatively normal life, but there are many who are profoundly damaged, and it is surely perfectly moral to wish to avoid the misery of such people and the misery of their families, if it can be done.

This is not to say that those who are glad there are tests and abortions available are searching for "perfect children". We are not. We know there is no such thing. But we do seek to prevent pain where we can. I fear that in attacking testing, Mr Lawson is trying to assuage his own pain by ignoring that of others.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Recruitment Genius: Electrician - Based in Petersfield

£19600 - £25800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in the South, based in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Supporters of the No vote react after the first results of the referendum at Syntagma square in Athens  

It’s not whether we’re rich or poor, but what we expect that really counts

Ben Chu
 

Daily catch-up: Greek Yes voters were so shy they didn’t even turn up to the polling stations

John Rentoul
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate