Tag Archives: abortion

Is a Child with Microcephaly Useless to Society?

Read any health section in a newspaper and you’ll find news of the Zika virus and its effects everywhere. Gaining more media attention as of late is the fact that as more babies are born with microcephaly, more countries are having to think about changing their abortion laws. One article in the New York Times made me abruptly pause while reading, surprised and shocked at the words of a major hospital director in Colombia. He was “firm that any woman whose fetuses showed signs of the condition would be offered [an abortion]. No woman, he said, should be forced to carry “a child that, in a few words, is useless to society.”’

But as I thought further, maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked at what he said, at his view of a child with a birth defect. After all, we are a society that values the powerful, the clever, and the beautiful. We have reality TV shows that exalt the “survivor,” while the weak, vulnerable, and dispensable are mere liabilities. As we age, we do all we can to conquer the enemies of gray hair and wrinkles – advertisers play on our expectations that we can eliminate pain and imperfection. Chronic weaknesses of body, mind, or soul are to be dealt with and quickly moved past or covered up. It’s as if we are saying, to be human is to be powerful and capable and self-sufficient. 

Recent Op-Ed: Abortion Involves No Moral Debate

In a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Janet Harris takes issue with those who describe abortion as a “difficult decision.” Of the problems she associates with such language, she finds one to be especially troublesome:

It is a tacit acknowledgment that terminating a pregnancy is a moral issue requiring an ethical debate. To say that deciding to have an abortion is a “hard choice” implies a debate about whether the fetus should live, thereby endowing it with a status of being. It puts the focus on the fetus rather than the woman. As a result, the question “What kind of future would the woman have as a result of an unwanted pregnancy?” gets sacrificed. By implying that terminating a pregnancy is a moral issue, pro-choice advocates forfeit control of the discussion to anti-choice conservatives.

Contrary to numerous movies and “very special” television episodes portraying abortion as an agonizing, complex decision (“Obvious Child” notwithstanding), for many it is a simple choice and often the only practical option.

What to say in response?