OK, before I start my post, I have to rant for a second. I spent 1/2 an hour typing out my OP, and just as I was finishing, my foot hit the on/off switch on my power strip. Computer, off. Post, gone. WHAAAHHHHH!
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I’ve been so interested to hear the varied reaction to the fact that Sarah Palin went through with a pregancy, knowing that the fetus had Down Syndrome. Of course, I fully understand and acknowledge that everyone has the right to continue or not continue such a pregnancy, and I’m not interested in debating the legality of it. I’m more interested in what people think is the moral obligation of a woman in this situation.
The reason I am thinking about this is because of a couple of blog pieces I read, reacting to this piece that Michael G. Franc wrote for the National Review Online. In it, Franc makes the case that Downs and other handicapped people have their own contributions to society, which may not be intellectual, but which are inherently just as valuable. It’s definitely an appeal to emotion, but Franc comes by that emotion honestly, as he had a much-loved brother with Down Syndrome.
I then came across this blog piece by Nicholas Provenzo, which makes the argument that knowingly allowing a handicapped person to be born is a selfish and perhaps even immoral act, based on the fact that the child will be a burden to their family, and more importantly, to society. That blogger in turn references this piece, in which Diana Hsieh goes so far as to say that an attitude like Franc’s amounts to “worship” of the handicapped. That is to say that the claim that handicapped people have special attributes that the rest of us can benefit from devalues human reason and intellectuality, and is therefore morally corrupt.
Of course, many of those who participate in GD know that I am pro-life, morally if not necessarily politically. I just want to make that clear, however, in the interest of allowing for my personal bias on this issue.
I have to take issue first with Provenzo’s statement at the end of his piece, claiming that Palin’s decision to give birth to Trig is an example of this “worship of retardation.” I don’t think there is evidence of this at all. The only thing I think we can assume that Palin thought about this baby was that he is just as good as anyone else. To say that she thinks that he is better than any one else is a leap, as far as I can see.
I personally think it’s wrong to claim that the life of a Downs person is more valuable, but I also think it’s wrong to claim that it is less so. Perhaps I have some bias that stems from my own personal knowledge of Downs people who lead productive and seemingly happy lives. I don’t buy into the “burden to society” argument. We are all potential burdens on society, and many people who are pefectly normal are guilty of that.
So, what does everyone think? Is going through with such a pregnancy a moral problem (or even “stupid,” as I read from one poster here)? Or is it a moral imperative to have the child and raise it to have as good a life as one can expect under the circumstances? Or, does it completely depend on the individual situation?