Tuesday, January 09, 2007

NogaNote:

The Daily Dish posted this today:

... most of the people who claim to oppose abortion are unwilling to undergo the inconvenience, expense and - let's face it - the public embarrassment of having a mentally disabled child.

I find these easy-going condemnations very unkind, to say the least. I happen to know a thing or two about this moral dilemma from both sides. As a person with a slight congenital deformity, I know from experience how unprepared, unwilling and cruel society is to anyone who deviates from its perceptual norms. As a woman who had to grow up and deal with this sort of instinctual revulsion, when in my pregnancy the fetus was diagnosed with Downe syndrome, there was very little doubt in my heart what the best course would be: not to be born. I could not imagine inflicting upon an innocent, helpless being the life of perpetual rejection, an infinitely multiplied version of what I had experienced. For there is no finite limit to the capacity of humankindness not to forgive those who offend its sense of visual harmony.

Though this decision was instantly taken, the pain of it never goes away. Never.

Instead of impunging the mothers who opt for abortion in such cases as selfish and pusilanymous, I would suggest those who make these accusations turn their sights on the kind of humanity that refuses to tolerate the anomalous. Why bring to this life a child who is doomed to being a perpetual pariah, with all the indignities and heartbreak that accrue to this status, to say nothing of the severe physical limitations in such a life, through no fault of her own?

If there was a God, no child would ever be born into a life of unmitigated suffering. I find the whole pro-life/pro choice dichotomy highly artificial and politically manufactured. The debate should not be a public arena for jousting between religious believers and so-called liberals. It should not become a scare-mongering excuse of the type we read in this article, making its easy leap in assuming that mothers who abort fetuses with Downe syndrome will do the same with homosexual babies. As though the one is a logical followup upon the other.

Suppose science made it possible to diagnose the homosexual chromosome in a fetus, in what way is it comparable with severe mental retardation that disallows any autonomy of life for the individual? A homosexual chromosome could, at worst, be compared with eye colour or skin colour. Homosexuality is not an affliction. Why turn it into one, in an eager attempt to boost the "pro-life" argument? Why even suggest an equivalence between homosexuality and mental retardation of Downe syndrome, and draw an apocalyptic scenario of this type?

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