General Question

whiteliondreams's avatar

How is the delivery of a baby with a known abnormal condition ethical? (Warning: may be controversial)

Asked by whiteliondreams (1698 points ) August 10th, 2012

*Note: Ethics is a branch of Philosophy which deals with the issue of the GOOD

You know you are going to have a child with down syndrome or any condition that is degrading or abnormal.

Your love and dedication to the infant motivate you to be compassionate, and your happiness is intrinsic because you have a child.

However, you know that you are limited in the experiences you can have with each other and there are many other variables that arise that restrict your interaction.

As you are intentionally limited and restricted, how is having a child that might be suffering (key word: might) ethical? How is it good to have someone in your life become a potential burden on you and possibly society?

I have asked myself many times, but I find it more neurologically binding than rationally or logically. I am merely looking for your outlook on this so I may understand:

Why do people find having an abnormal child (knowingly) is ethical whereas, it is morally wrong to choose death?

Where do we, as humans, come up with the idea that death is wrong? Note, I typed ‘death is wrong’, not morally wrong.

Also, how does the addition of one more person contribute to society, or the world as a whole, if in the end we still go to the same place? Lastly, does this notion make humans more egoistic because we want to see what this person’s potential may be, or less egoistic because we have an intrinsic motivation to see people prosper?

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47 Answers

marinelife's avatar

The child’s right to life and being born trumps your right to a burden-free existence. You took your gamble when you became pregnant.

Many people with Down’s Syndrome have very sunny outlooks. They are happy people who bring great joy into the lives of those around them. Who are you to decide that they should not live?

Buttonstc's avatar

“with Down syndrome or any condition that is degrading or abnormal”

Wow. I never knew that Down syndrome is considered “degrading”.

And exactly what is normal? And who gets to decide? And who draws the line between major and minor abnormality?

My sister adopted a child with Down syndrome (her parents, a wealthy attorney and his wife decided they couldn’t cope) and we have often commented upon how they deprived themselves of one of the funniest and most loving kids you’d ever want to meet.

So, it would have been better she should have just been put to death without even a chance at life? Is that what your “ethics” would propose?

Hitler had the same idea. It was basically termed Eugenics. But his definitions of “defective” or “undesirable” were pretty far ranging and included many who were perfectly normal (and might have even included you if you had been born into the wrong ethnic group or religion). Or better hope you’re not gay. They were also classified as “abnormal”.

What you propose (in the guise of what you term as “ethics” ) becomes a very slippery slope indeed.

Do a little study on the Eugenics movement, especially POST-Hitler and here in the USA. You might be quite surprised and possible shocked. And you might learn a little more about ethics and compassion.

Oh yeah, my sister later adopted another child, also rejected by her birth parents. She had a club foot (as well as a couple of other minor physical anomalies). Should she have been aborted also?

Exactly where does that line get drawn? And BTW the only reason anyone nowadays would know about her foot would be from pics taken when she was two and still had the cast on from the corrective surgery. Interesting how “abnormal” can quickly change, isn’t it ?

So nowadays I guess she would qualify as normal. (except that she has a near-genius IQ). Hmmm…that abnormal category gets more difficult every day, doesn’t it~~

You need a little more practice in the skill of critical thinking. And a better grasp of history might help also. Both would go a long way in answering the basic premise of your question and clarifying these “ethical issues” with which you’re struggling.

zenvelo's avatar

Life trumps death, because death is irreversible. One cannot know what will arise from any given life, even of the most disabled, because that life interacts with every other life it touches.

And your statement ”...you are limited in the experiences you can have with each other and there are many other variables that arise that restrict your interaction.” is not accurate. Your experiences are different but they are not limited.

And please don’t call Down’s Syndrome degrading. It isn’t and your calling it such shows your contempt.

psyonicpanda's avatar

This question is beautiful and profound and I had to take minute to sit back and really think about how i wanted to answer it.
Death in some societys is considered a gift rather then a punishment, death can be seen as an elightenment to another world or life. It is only the human being that puts a consequence on the aspect of death. I believe that a child cannot make that choice for themselves and it is up to the parent to have to make that choice for them. Taking a child from this earth that cannot live the “normal” life of the average human being can considered a choice of mercy. hundreds of years ago children with such illnesses such as down sydrome were usually killed immiately because they would serve no purpose in the world that they lived in at the time.
But in todays world the Value of a single baby life is not measured on the childs existance itself its measured on how that the parent will be able to take care of it, medical bills and specialneeds cost. And this in itself lessons the value of a life. I firmly beleive that if a child is diagnosed with a cronic illness or malformation then it is a gift of mercy to not bring that child into the world to suffer as it will. That to me is truly love. it would be selfish to bring a child into the world where it will suffer just for the sake of having it there, knowing that it will die sooner rather then later, leaving behind only a life of inadequence.
furthermore it is the Stigma of religion and society that produces such pressures that shape the “ethics” that you speak of. The cornerstone of death was glorified during the Crusades but only through reason and logic could the human mind grasp that death especially for a child could mean something else. The addition or subraction of one human life with not turn the world upon another access. The death of a child that will suffer or not is too inconceivably small in comparason to the rest of the world that the “burdon” simply sits on the shoulders of the whom the baby is born. sigh

mazingerz88's avatar

It is ethical in the sense that you are basically giving this human being a chance to later on decide for himself what he wants to do with his own life. You may find it astonishing that a lot of people do it intentionally, take on the responsibility of supporting a human being with abnormalities. And they are not always their own blood too.

Could it become a problem in the future-? Your own disabled child blaming you for not terminating him in the womb when you knew he would be born with such difficult condition-? I guess that could happen. I would imagine a parent would explain that his reason for doing so was borne out of love and never malicious.

I’ve never met any disabled person long enough to hear their feelings about this personal issue. What I have is brief interaction with two people, a young man of around 25 and a woman, around 40, both wheelchair bound, both ticket attendants at my favorite movie house.

What I get from the way they speak, behave and do their work is that they are committed and believe themselves to be doing something useful. They are living their lives. Simply put, I don’t think they’re miserable. My guess.

Trillian's avatar

Some would say that life is precious.
I’m more inclined to believe in quality of life over simple clinging to another day. However, I don’t feel qualified to make that call for anyone but myself.

CWOTUS's avatar

First define “normal”.

wonderingwhy's avatar

As you are intentionally limited and restricted, how is having a child that might be suffering (key word: might) ethical?
Each person has to make these decisions for themselves. It’s up to society as a whole to protect the ability to make those choices, even when they aren’t strictly in societies best interests. For me, I don’t find it moral because I’m not willing to choose to make the necessary sacrifices.

How is it good to have someone in your life become a potential burden on you and possibly society?
Bearing personal burdens are not intrinsically good or bad knowingly laying burdens on society are ethically defined by the society as a whole.

Why do people find having an abnormal child (knowingly) is ethical whereas, it is morally wrong to choose death?
I can’t really answer that efficiently as I don’t find the first part to be a particularly good social or personal choice nor do I find the second part morally wrong. However, limiting individual choice at a societal level should be very carefully weighed, considered in context, and consistently open to genuine debate at least in my view.

Where do we, as humans, come up with the idea that death is wrong? Note, I typed ‘death is wrong’, not morally wrong.
Probably fear of the unknown, social necessity, moral ambiguity, etc. in various combination.

Also, how does the addition of one more person contribute to society, or the world as a whole, if in the end we still go to the same place?
Growth of the species, hopefully in a positive manner.

Lastly, does this notion make humans more egoistic because we want to see what this person’s potential may be, or less egoistic because we have an intrinsic motivation to see people prosper?
I don’t think this has to be either/or, it can be both.

josie's avatar

It should be parental choice.
Until the Political State gets involved in paying for treatments, special education, etc.
Then it becomes a taxpayer choice. Which creates an ugly conflict of interest and inspires questions like yours and and answers like some of the ones you are getting.

thorninmud's avatar

I read recently some research on the psychology of non-disabled people who imagine the lives of people with disabilities. When you think about what it would be like to live with a disability, the disability is there in the foreground of your consciousness, e.g. when I think about what it would be like to be blind, it’s blindness that I’m thinking about, and not all of the other aspects of that person’s life. But for the person living with that disability, it likely is in the foreground of their consciousness relatively little. Chances are that it isn’t at all the dominant feature of their life. People with disabilities suffer less than others imagine.

This is why people aren’t very good at evaluating the quality of the lives of others.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@thorninmud “This is why people aren’t very good at evaluating the quality of the lives of others.” That is an excellent response.

Everyone’s response was excellent. It shows how many are concerned, others are not concerned, and others are indifferent.

However, if a person has the choice to bear, the person has a choice to abort. It cannot be a one sided picture because of someone else’s values.

Needless to say, my eyes have been opened on a different perspective that some of you have presented and although it does not change my outlook, I am a little more cognizant of what many people are inclined to value with and without rationality.

@marinelife “Who are you to decide that they should not live?” Who are you to decide they should?

@Buttonstc “And exactly what is normal? And who gets to decide? And who draws the line between major and minor abnormality?” Normal is what you accept to be the norm, and what you accept to be the norm is what becomes a social norm if others accept your “ideal” based on subjective (rarely, objective) congruence.

“So, it would have been better she should have just been put to death without even a chance at life? Is that what your “ethics” would propose?”

I repeat: “Ethics is a branch of Philosophy which deals with the issue of the GOOD”.

Again, regardless of what you think of me or my inquiry, it is merely a question about what You as human beings come to value. If I were to live in a world where people were a danger to me because they valued murdering a blasphemer, I would be worried. If either of you would be on the trigger side of a gun and it was pointed towards me because I am questioning your ethics, then there is something wrong with you people. If you cannot stop to take the time to answer a question without being offended and making it as educational as possible, then don’t bother.

What makes you think that your 2 cents of subjective transcription surmounts to any significance in rationality? Granted, I made a mistake in adding degrading and that was because I chose the wrong word and for that I DO apologize. I’m not trying to offend anyone and if you are offended, sorry about your luck, but as free as you were entering this forum is as free as I was posting the questions.

Finally, if you think it is ethical to bring someone into the world knowing they are incapable of taking care of themselves after adulthood, then of course it is your responsibility as a citizen of the world to ensure their well being and safety, but do not impose your subjectivity onto people who choose otherwise. Prove that it is wrong with evidence. Justify your claims with substantial backing. I’m not sorry I brought this forum up, but I am sorry if I offended anyone. How is anyone to learn if we do not ask?

Pandora's avatar

I think those that chose to go on with it look at it this way. At least this is a view I can understand. There is no such thing as a perfect child. Lets say you have a beautiful healthy baby. Raise it till its a teen. Some inherited disease begins to show and your child will face a life of pain and discomfort and maybe even mental challenges. It hurts to watch but you don’t love that child any less. You can’t just put it out of its misery. Especially, since you don’t know if the child wishes it was never born or if its your own selfish desire not to see them suffer and to end your suffering. How do you choose death, that is so permanent, when you really have no idea if you are truly saving your child.
In either case you do not know. I am fortunate that I have never had to make such a decision . So I would not judge someone who has had to. Whether they choose to abort or give it life, had to be the most difficult decision any human ever has to make. But of both. I think giving the child life was an act of love.They know the toll it will take on everyone but are willing to sacrifice peace of mind for moments of happiness. They don’t think it cruel. They just think they are loving and giving the child a chance to live. I’m sure they have their moments of doubt but for many that is erased by time.
When I was pregnant with my son. The doctor told me there would be a chance that he would be born with a cleft lip. I cried for days. Imagining that he would grow up being ridiculed and hating me for making him. Then I just thought and prayed that if the doctor was right that God would bless me with the strength to guide him and give him courage and love.
Luckily he was born just fine. Colicky but just fine. You love them even before they are born.

Nullo's avatar

Where do we, as humans, come up with the idea that death is wrong? Note, I typed ‘death is wrong’, not morally wrong. From God Himself.

Also, how does the addition of one more person contribute to society, or the world as a whole, if in the end we still go to the same place?
Different people go different places. Those who reject salvation go to Hell, those who accept it go to Heaven.

Lastly, does this notion make humans more egoistic because we want to see what this person’s potential may be, or less egoistic because we have an intrinsic motivation to see people prosper?
Neither.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s quite simple to me. No one knows what suffering is to another person. Indeed, we don’t know what it is for our own selves. One day a pain might be suffering, and the next it might be joy that we can feel. We get to choose to suffer.

A person with Downs gets that choice, too. From what I can tell, most of them are happier than so-called “normal” people. So to terminate a pregnancy because you believe you are preventing suffering is factually and morally wrong. You can’t and don’t know.

The real reason why parents choose to terminate a pregnancy due to “suffering of the child” is because they don’t want to suffer the pains and tribulations of raising a child with difficulties. Unfortunately, this is not a socially acceptable reason, because it is seen as selfish.

Personally, I think it is a fine reason. If you don’t want to parent a child, I don’t think you should force yourself to parent it. If you don’t want a girl, you shouldn’t make yourself have a girl. If you don’t want a genius, you shouldn’t have to parent a genius. If you don’t want a child with blue eyes, you shouldn’t have to parent it.

Maybe you give it up for adoption. Maybe you abort it. It doesn’t matter to me. The only reason to have a child, as far as I’m concerned, is because you want it. If you don’t want it, no matter how venal the reason, then you shouldn’t have it. Abort it. Give it away. I think what is most important with children is that they are wanted.

Now it gets tricky, because you can not want a child before it is born, yet come to want it later on, after you get to know it. Unfortunately, we can’t know which parents will come to want which children that they don’t want at first. So I believe we should set our desires pre-birth to be the ones that settle the matter. It is worse to have a child that grows up unwanted than it is to lose a child that will become wanted.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@wundayatta Thank you. I concur.

Then it goes without saying, you are damned if you abort and damned if you don’t because either decision is selfish on someone’s part. Selfish to abort and selfish for the people who don’t want the abortion to happen.

As for Down syndrome humans, I have nothing against them, or anyone who has a condition that is considered “abnormal” because I have a cousin who is worse-off than a Down syndrome individual, I have a sister who is paralyzed from the waist down since she was 12, and I have a sister who acquired AIDS many years ago. <——All that is not meaningless or worthless, but the question I want to know is why do people make certain decisions. That is all. I’m done. Have a great weekend everyone.

Mariah's avatar

@wundayatta, I know we’ve had this discussion before, but I do wish you wouldn’t assume you know what people think better than they themselves do (in reference to “the real reason why parents choose to terminate a pregnancy due to “suffering of the child” is because they don’t want to suffer the pains and tribulations of raising a child with difficulties”). Is it so inconceivable to you that people actually truly don’t want to bring suffering into the world?

Regarding the OP, I personally think neither decision, to have the child or not, is unethical. If you choose not to have the child, the child that would have been does not suffer as a result of that decision. If you choose to have the child, it is perfectly possible that the child will have a good life, or even if not a good life, per se, a life they’re glad to have lived.

wundayatta's avatar

@Mariah Look at it logically. Is it possible to know the suffering of another person? You can guess, but you can’t know. Especially if that person has not yet been born. Therefore, if you can not know their suffering, then that suffering can not be a reason for your action. It becomes an excuse.

So you have to look further, if you want to understand the likely story. If people say they are doing it for someone who doesn’t exist, then they are doing it for an idea; an idea in their own heads. In other words, they are doing it, most likely, for themselves. If not for themselves, then whom? There is no one else. Well, perhaps society. But that still comes back to themselves, since they only do it if they care what society thinks about them.

I know I do this a lot—mistrust what people have to say about their own motives when those motives seem specious. It seems to bother people, perhaps because it doesn’t let people off the hook of personal responsibility. But I think that in general, people are more likely to do things for reasons that benefit them than supposedly benefit others. I especially think this is true when it comes to issues where we allow ourselves to believe we know what is best for others.

I just don’t think we can know what is best for others and it really bothers me when people think they do know. In my experience, they are often wrong. They don’t know what life means to others. They are making bad guesses.

My preference is that people make choices for themselves and not pretend to know what is best for others. I think we’d get better decisions if more people did that. And I do not have a problem with people deciding not to have a child because they don’t want a child that causes difficulties. I do have a problem when people say they make that choice for the child. That is just plain mendacious. There is no way they can know.

trailsillustrated's avatar

It’s a parental choice. When I was pregnant, I was informed that they couldn’t do anmiocentesis, and a specialist came and told me that if anything was wrong with one or both of the babies, I had a choice whether or not to keep and raise it, and no one would think less of me and there would be no negative ramifications if I chose…..not to carry on. I was really shocked about this conversation, fortunately nothing bad happened. This was at a well known and prestigious teaching hospital.

Trillian's avatar

“There is no way they can know.”
As there is no way you can know the motivations of another person, regardless of what you say. All you can do is ascribe motivations based on your own experiences. You can only judge people pased on your motivations.
I also believe that you should stop trying to pin your motivations on other people and accept that people can be completely different from what you think, feel and expect.

WestRiverrat's avatar

So you would deprive the world of the next Stephen Hawking because (s)he is not perfect prebirth?

mazingerz88's avatar

I might be mistaken but I think Hawking was not born that way.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@mazingerz88 You are correct. I just grabbed the name I was most familiar with off this site. I should have read it first.

CWOTUS's avatar

This question somehow reminds me of another question by this guy I used to know.

Trillian's avatar

I know that guy.^^

wundayatta's avatar

@Trillian Why does it bother you that I assign motivations to others that are different from what they say about themselves DO you think people are experts on themselves? Do you think they are always honest? Even if honest, do you think they always know best?

Obviously, I don’t. I have found that people seem not to know a whole hell of a lot about themselves, including myself. SO I don’t trust my own thoughts about myself, either. In fact, I do the same thing to myself that you don’t like me doing to others. I discount what I think. Instead, I look at how I behave in order to develop a theory of what is really important to me.

My view is that you look at what people do, not what they say they think. This bothers some people. I guess because it sounds like I’m saying I know other people better than they know themselves. I guess that’s true. I think I observe others better than they observe themselves. In fact, I don’t think a lot of people observe themselves at all. They just go based on their thoughts. It’s not very scientific, and I think it causes people to be mistaken about themselves and others an awful lot.

I’m sorry if I don’t sound humble enough when I write what I think. Do I know better? I don’t know. I do know that I have a theory and most people don’t. If I could figure out a way of gathering data about this, maybe I could show my way of understanding and predicting people’s behavior works better.

But I’m always open for reasoned discussions about why one idea is better than another. I don’t think it makes sense to use appeals to authority to say someone’s ideas are better. My ideas are not better because they come from me. If they are better, they are better because my reasoning and data analysis is better.

Mariah's avatar

@wundayatta I really don’t think that your way of thinking is the only logical way to look at this situation.

“Is it possible to know the suffering of another person? You can guess, but you can’t know.”
This is true. The only way to guarantee 0 suffering in this situation is to not have a child. Not having a child isn’t a gamble like having a child would be. I could have a child and hope that they won’t suffer much. Is that likely when I have a bunch of bullshit in my genes? I don’t know. I know I can’t actually quantify this, but I can certainly make educated guesses based on what I know is in my genes and what I know the child might have to go through. Should one never act upon educated guesses? Do I need to know something for certain in order to factor it into my decision making? Maybe in an alternate universe I choose to have a child, and the child turns out happy. Too bad I didn’t go for it in this universe then, but even so, no one was harmed by my decision, so it’s really not a loss. I don’t mourn each time I have a period because that could have been a child.

“If people say they are doing it for someone who doesn’t exist, then they are doing it for an idea; an idea in their own heads. In other words, they are doing it, most likely, for themselves.”
You really think a potential child is such an abstract idea that I can’t make decisions regarding him/her? When people try to cure diseases, reverse global warming, fix the economy, in the hopes that future generations will benefit, are they, too, fooling themselves just because those future generations don’t exist yet? I don’t get this at all.

I really want to have kids, and it pains me that I have decided to abstain for fear of passing on bad genes or being too ill to be a decent mother. And it’s just really obnoxious to be told that that is just a guise and I’m really some selfish prick who doesn’t want to sit in a hospital room with my kid. That not it, that’s not even a tiny bit it. But what do I know, right?

Trillian's avatar

Whether people are honest about their motivations or not, you can’t say with any degree of accuracy what they are. All you know for sure is your own motivations. And you seem to judge people based on your own misguided perceptions, then try to say that others feel them.
It’s called projecting and it is counter productive.
You can look at what people do all day long, but you don’t know what their motivations are.

wundayatta's avatar

@Mariah YOu are willing to sit in the hospitals with your potential child? You are willing to be there every step of the way? Then try to have a child. The world benefits from parents who are willing to do that for their kids.

You say you don’t want to have a child because the child might suffer? Now I call bullshit. You fucking want to have a child. This makes no sense at all. You would be a great parent. And you have no idea whether your child will suffer too much or not.

I can tell you what it is like not to be able to have children. I know what it is like to carry all kinds of hideous genes. Cystic fibrosis and bipolar disorder, just for starters. I don’t know what we would have done if our child had had full blown CF. These days people can live into their fifties with the disease. This is a disease that makes you drown in your own fluids.

And even if the child died at twenty, it may well have been grateful for life. For me, life is worth anything. I say that, knowing I was seriously considering ending it when the pain was too much, but I didn’t.

Your thinking on this seems upside down to me. You want a child. You would make sacrifices. TO me, that is all you need. You stop yourself because of this notion of suffering, but I ask you if you would terminate your own life because of your problems? Obviously you haven’t. So why do you think someone else with the same issues would wish they had never lived?

The only reason people wish they had never lived is if their parents tell them they are worthless. If you tell your kids they are loved and wanted, it will never occur to them to wish they had never lived. That is the key. Wanting a child. And you want one. Stopping yourself for a bogus reason is so foolish. You are doing no one any favors by denying yourself your desire. You are potentially depriving all of us of a wonderful person.

Not that you owe us a kid. If it is unsafe for you, then you don’t owe us it. But using this notion of suffering as some kind of altruistic thing is wrong-headed and backwards. It is not altruism. It is being selfish. The most loving thing you can do is love a child and bring it into the world and give it every chance you can. If you want a child, you should try to have one. A genetic child.

Trillian's avatar

^^You are nothing but wrong. You have no right to judge anyone by your own standards but yourself, and you certainly have no right to call someone a liar because you fucking disagree with her reasoning.
How dare you try to give her such unsolicited advice about such a life impacting decision? If you’re not ready to take full responsibility for a life brought into this world, stay the fuck out if it.
There are as many different ways to come to a decision as there are people in the world, how very small minded to think they are all the same as yours.

wundayatta's avatar

THis is a place for advice, @Trillian. If you don’t like it, then it doesn’t make sense for you to be here.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t see her asking for your advice, and if you don’t like me telling you exactly how you are wrong in your assumptions, maybe you shouldn’t be here.

Bellatrix's avatar

[Mod says] Flame off folks. Please remember to disagree without being disagreeable.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta “Is it possible to know the suffering of another person? You can guess, but you can’t know.” By this same reasoning, it’s not possible to know the joy and contentment of another person; thus, those who bring children into this world assuming that they will be happy or that there’s a really good chance they will be happy are the selfish ones.

There are actually lots of people who’ve wished they weren’t born; as someone who’s not unfamiliar with mood disorders, I’m surprised you aren’t familiar with those who’ve been depressed, even suicidal most of their lives. And I’ve heard a lot of people on disability forums say that they wished their parents had not had them, and that they could not bring a child into this world knowing that it would suffer as they did.

I do have to agree with the others about the circular logic that is false consciousness accusations. Even aside from the issue of if you’re right or not (and I rarely, if ever, think those who accuse others of false consciousness are right), has anyone in the history of ever reacted well to that accusation?

Aethelflaed's avatar

To answer the original question: Yes, I think it can be ethical, but I also think it can be unethical. I think the idea that any life regardless of quality is better than death is, if not always selfish, woefully out of touch with the pain and thought processes of those who are suicidal and commit suicide. I think most people have kids at least in part because of how it would make them, the parent, feel, but that’s not really a negative. I think the ethics is not in which way you end up deciding, but in if one really considered and struggled with the possible qualities of life their child could have, and how those different outcomes might effect their decision, and generally thought the process of having a kid through.

I don’t think there’s really anything selfish about aborting a pregnancy you don’t want to carry for any reason; kids can tell if you’re resenting them for taking away your chance to travel, or have a more successful career than you did, or stay up late drinking and smoking pot and sleep in till 2, or for not turning into the person you wanted them to be, or have a “normal” parent/child relationship and standard child expenses (financial and otherwise). Every child a wanted child.

rooeytoo's avatar

I thought Fluther was a place for opinions, but in fact, there is a lot of judgement thrown in if you disagree with the majority.

I don’t think anyone should be coerced into having a child they do not want or feel able to handle. I never wanted children and thankfully never became pregnant so never was faced with the choice of whether to abort or not. But I think it would not have been a good situation if I had become pregnant and decided to take the high moral road and give birth. That child surely would have sensed, no matter how hard I tried to conceal the fact, that it was not born out of desire to create it. And that would not be fair to the child.

In my mind, this is where religion comes in handy. I like to believe that all these little souls are floating around in some beautiful place. If one person doesn’t give birth to it, it simply goes back into the pool and someone else who hopefully will love it above all, will give birth to it when its turn comes around again. I know, it’s corny and the atheists will attack, but it is the way I prefer to think about it.

psyonicpanda's avatar

It is unreasonable and illogical to base such facts on the basis of religion alone. A free mind is free spirit and a free spirit leads to and open concsious. One must not set such absolute venues especially when it comes to the human life.

Mariah's avatar

@wundayatta Of course I’d be willing to sit with my child in the hospital.

“And you have no idea whether your child will suffer too much or not.”
So unless you know something bad will happen, go ahead and do it? I expect, then, when you’re crossing the road, you walk out into traffic, because who knows, the cars might not hit you. This is not how I operate. I err on the side of caution. Go ahead and live your life riskily if you want to, but you can’t tell me to do the same.

“Your thinking on this seems upside down to me. You want a child. You would make sacrifices. TO me, that is all you need.”
My parents made all those sacrifices, and while it makes things a LOT better to feel their support in my life, it doesn’t ease the physical pain or the indignity that I am always dealing with.

“I ask you if you would terminate your own life because of your problems? Obviously you haven’t.”
Being suicidal is far different from wishing you’d never been born. I’ve left a pretty good paper trail around this site regarding my feelings about my birth. This is the only one I could find off hand.

“The only reason people wish they had never lived is if their parents tell them they are worthless. If you tell your kids they are loved and wanted, it will never occur to them to wish they had never lived.”
Seriously? Seriously?? You are really arguing that nobody has ever been suicidal about anything besides a lack of parental love? I don’t even know how to respond…I know you have suffered a lot in your life, but you cannot presume to know every kind of suffering and how every person will react to it.

I appreciate that you think that I would be a good mother. I do want to adopt.

@rooeytoo I’ve got no problem with differing opinions; I do have a problem with presumptuousness regarding my opinion and my motives behind it. I do apologize for the tone this thread has taken because of me, though.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Mariah, God bless you for wanting to adopt. But do I understand your reasoning and feelings to be that you wouldn’t adopt a child that was considered flawed or less than perfect because of health or mental reasons?

Patton's avatar

Sometimes it is ethical, sometimes it is not. Most abnormalities don’t really affect you that much. “Normal” people can be very presumptuous about what it is like to live with an abnormality, but it’s easier to cope with than you might think. Compared to some birds, we’re all basically blind. But we don’t consider 20/20 vision a handicap. Oscar Pistorious just ran in the Olympics. He lost, but he’s still way faster than I’ll ever be. Stephen Hawking has ALS and he’s one of the greatest physicists in the world. I’m 100% pro-choice, and that goes in both directions (have a kid if you want, don’t if you don’t want).

If Hawking’s mother had said she didn’t think she could have brought someone destined to suffer from ALS into the world, I’d support her. But let’s not go pretending that people with ALS or other disabilities cannot have good lives. They can. It’s when a child is brought into the world just to suffer and die with no hope of living that I think it is obviously unethical to bring an abnormal child into the world. Then it’s just a big old wank fest on behalf of the parents to show what fuck ups they are (though they usually say “good Christians” instead of “fuck ups”).

@rooeytoo Fluther isn’t a place for opinions, it’s a place for discussions. Discussion means that your opinion is open for comment. A lot of jellies, including you, seem to think having the right to an opinion means never having it challenged. You want to be able to have your say and not let anyone respond. When they do respond, you call them names and throw a hissy fit. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Mariah's avatar

@bkcunningham No, no! I don’t want to bring suffering into the world. A child who is ill and up for adoption has already been brought into the world. I would be fine with adopting him/her.

CWOTUS's avatar

@thorninmud hit on something very important earlier.

I saw a talk recently – and it must have been on the interwebz, but I can’t for the life of me recall where it was or who made it – but the speaker asked a rhetorical question to his audience. “Which would you rather have: a multi-million-dollar lottery win or an injury that left you a quadriplegic for life? Which outcome would make you happier? Be careful how you answer.”

Really? “Be careful how you answer?” That got the expected laugh from the audience, because obviously, right? between those two outcomes in life, who would not choose the former over the latter?

He went on to say that anyone who studies “happiness” would find that although in the short term all lottery winners will be happier than all who suffer such great injury, in the long term there is no significant difference. After about a year or so, people who have suffered such huge, crippling injuries are more or less equally as happy with their lives as winners of huge cash prizes.

We really should think some more about what that means about “quality of life”!

CWOTUS's avatar

I found the speech I was referring to earlier. (Thank you, Pearltrees!)

You Have No Idea How Wrong You Are. It’s a half-hour speech, and I won’t tell you where the excerpt comes from, because the whole talk is fully worth the listen. I hope you enjoy it.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Mariah – I was not referring to you, it was a general reference to those who repeatedly abuse, attack, belittle and insult anyone whose opinion differs from their own. I personally enjoy reading all opinions, it is a learning experience and often gives me the opportunity to examine a subject from a different perspective, which can prove valuable to my own growth.

@psyonicpanda – For me, this is where religion would come in handy. Religious people are not unreasonable and illogical, they have faith.

That is what I mean about belittling and insulting opinions different from their own.

whiteliondreams's avatar

Uhh.. Game over please?

wundayatta's avatar

@Mariah I’ve been in pain—enough to think about death as a solution. But have I suffered? I don’t know. I know I’ve gone through lots of things that people call suffering, but have I suffered? It’s hard to look back and say it was suffering.

What I know is that what one person calls suffering is not considered suffering by someone else. Suffering is a call that only the person who experiences it can make. And it is not determined by physical circumstances. It is determined by your own psychology.

You may feel your life is full of suffering. Certainly you’ve had a lot of pain. But for you to say you haven’t provided the world with any benefit is a kind of reverse narcissism that is just plain wrong. You have, if nothing else, brought some interesting stories into my life. You have reached out and found people who are interested in you. I mean, I believe there are others besides myself who enjoy your contributions here.

But that is not how lives are judged. Lives are judged by the liver. That is, the person who lives the life, not the organ. You are the one who determines whether you are suffering or not, and if you are, what that suffering means and if it is worth it.

I, personally, think it is wrong to take those choices away from a child just because they can’t have a so-called “normal” life. Non-normal lives—well, you’re leading one. I don’t think you would like it if your parents had taken it away before you ever got born.

Mindfulness practice teaches us how to be grateful for what we have. It doesn’t teach us to be bitter about what we don’t have. It works to keep people feeling better about themselves. It helps people be able to cope. If you don’t compare, you will probably be happier. If you do compare yourself to others, you will always find ways that you lack. You will always find ways to get down on yourself. I know this far too well. I suspect you know it, too.

When I judge people, it is generally because they hurt themselves or they hurt others, needlessly. In my friendships, I make it a rule that my friend is not allowed to say anything negative about him or herself. If they are smart, they make me do the same thing. I am very clever about hurting myself, and I have to work very hard not to do it.

I judge those who hurt others, and in this case, people who preemptively decide they know what’s better for someone else because they don’t like it for themselves. I don’t think we should judge another’s life. I don’t think we have any business deciding what suffering is for someone else. It is so wrong to me, it hurts. And it kills me that you wouldn’t let yourself do what you really want to. You are judging yourself. You are saying you are bad. Wrong. Worthless. You may not see it, but I have seen the tricky, horrible ways that people beat up on themselves and think they are doing a good thing and it is not helpful.

You will make a great parent because you want children. You would be a perfect parent for someone with your condition because you know all about it. Your child would have challenges, of course, but you know how to deal with those challenges.

If you truly want to adopt, that is a fine option. But I can say with absolute confidence that everyone I have ever heard say they don’t want to pass their genes onto a child is exactly the kind of person I wish would pass their genes on. I think the world needs the genes of people like you and other friends I know. I think there is great sadness for these people when they decide not to have biological children. They make the best of it. But they do suffer.

CWOTUS's avatar

Man, we should have a “Response of the Day” on Facebook, too.

Mariah's avatar

@wundayatta I realize now that you are not trying to belittle me but I still feel my hackles rising in response to almost everything you just wrote. Sorry. I’m going to sleep on it and come back with a cool head tomorrow. Furthermore, I’m not sure exactly what the intention of @whiteliondreams‘s last post was, but I’m guessing we probably need to take this elsewhere.

Cheers

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