Letter: Science should improve, not negate, the lives of the disabled

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The Independent Online
From Ms Helen Roskams

Sir: "We all live in hope," according to Polly Toynbee ("Sentimentality is not enough", 13 September), but what hope for our children in the next century if her chilling attitude towards handicapped babies is representative of society as a whole? If recent advances in medical science have allowed abnormalities to be detected at a very early stage, surely the way forward lies in further scientific endeavour to improve life for the disabled.

One example of this is the potential of wordprocessors and computers to facilitate communication for those who might indeed, in an earlier age, have been written off as "calamitous births". Witness the eloquent Christy Nolan on the subject:

now they threatened to abort babies like him, to detect in advance their handicapped state, to burrow through the womb and label them for death, to baffle their mothers with fear for their coming, and yet, the spastic baby would ever be the soul which would never kill, maim, creed falsehood or hate brotherhood. Why then does society fear the crippled child ... and why does it hail the able-bodied child and crow over what may in time become a potential executioner? (Under the Eye of the Clock).

Yours faithfully,

Helen Roskams

Bicester, Oxfordshire

13 September