Should women abort a clearly defective fetus?

With the progression of medical technology and prenatal screening, the health of a developing fetus can be determined more significantly and viewed for disorders or issues. With these facts in mind, should it be socially acceptable or required for clearly defective fetuses to be terminated for the greater good of society such as if a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome? A 2004 study found that approximately 13% of women reported an abortion for reason of fetus problems

Acceptable? Yes. Required? No. Her body is her body.

Down syndrome is relatively benign, and such children can have a fairly high quality of life.

Now, when you get to things like spina bifida, the balance tilts a bit…

But jsgoddess is absolutely on the money: it ain’t for me to say. Sure, I have an opinion, and if a dear friend or family member was actually in that situation, and asked, I’ll give voice.

But it’s too big a question. There can’t be any simple rule to cover the incredible width of all the possibilities. No two people will have exactly the same overall values, or put the same weight on all of the costs and benefits.

You might as well ask, “Should unhappy couples get a divorce?” Impossible to answer with a yes or no.

Totally up to the pregnant woman. She gets to decide who comes in, and who stays, inside her body.

You may be too new to know this, but you’re supposed to stake a position and defend it in GD, not just pose a question.

So, what do you think and why?

Hey, in both of the cases, it would depend on the severity, and that is not something that may be known until the fetus is born, and the baby develops. I have a cousin whose elder daughters have both of those conditions (one has one, the other has the other). The DS girl is somewhat high functional, although not as functional as others I’ve seen, meet, or read about. The SB girl… well, you wouldn’t know she had it! Bright young teenager, fully mobile. Now, I did meet another distant cousin who also had spina bifida, and he was wheelchair bound. Still, he lived a relatively long life and had at some point held jobs.

I agree with jsgodess, it should be acceptable. But not required. And with the medical advances that have occurred, it is possible that more and more defects could be either corrected so as to cause minimal complications later in life, or treated such that the kids can develop a lot more than what they used to in old times.

Sorry, I see.

Well I think they should because of the cost in raising a child with severe disabilities including the mental and emotional costs of such an undertaking, particularly the strain on parents if there are other children\. If she wants a child, why not adopt a healthy one?

I’m pro-choice, so I think “should” is a word that shouldN’T be used in reference to terminating a pregnancy. I personally would probably choose to terminate a fetus that had a poor prognosis for quality of life. I’m not convinced Down Syndrome meets that criteria. I’m not going to say any other woman should make the same choice.

I had a friend whose long battle with infertility finally resulted in a pregnancy that she was ecstatic about… Only to be told halfway through that her baby had anencephaly and couldn’t survive. She made the choice to terminate her pregnancy at that point. She was kicked out of a support group for parents of children with the condition for that choice, which compounded her grief. People going through the trauma of a special needs pregnancy are usually experiencing an anguish that the rest of us can only hope we need never experience ourselves, and they do not need the judgment of others to shame or condemn them for their choices.

It depends. Spina bifida actually results in a spectrum of disability from “profound” to “not noticeable under most circumstances”. Modern medicine does a lot to improve functioning for those people.

Of course, I am biased, having married someone with SB… I’m rather glad he hadn’t been aborted.

^ This.

This is also true.

A 100 years ago my spouse would have been dead within weeks of birth. 50 years ago modern medicine allowed him to survive childhood and learn to walk. Today, a child born with his level of defect would probably be in surgery within a day of birth and be even less impacted

How traumatic a disability might be is going to vary not only with the disability but also with the resources available to the family and the outlook/attitude of the parents.

Also, healthy kids are in surprisingly short supply for adoption purposes. Much more common are less than perfect kids who need a home, in which case you’re back to the stress and cost of raising a kid with more problems than usual.

I also heard it’s incredibly difficult to adopt a child in the U.S, but I don’t know the specifics or if it would be better or less time consuming to try having another kid,


There is a massive gap between “acceptable” and “required”. Including both options in the question makes it two separate questions. As already stated, acceptable yes; required, no.

How is this materially different than executing murderous retards? You hear a huge outcry every time some mentally challenged inmate is up for execution, yet nobody bats much of an eye when we talk about aborting defective fetuses.

At least with the fetuses, they’re not a proven risk to the rest of us.

I probably would. Of course, I’m not ever going to get pregnant, so it’s not really my choice.

But it is certainly something I’m going to talk to with hypothetical future wife before we get married. I mean, really it should be part of the “kid” talk anyways, along with “how many” and “when”.

“Retards.” Mighty classy.

And if you want to debate abortion per se, maybe you could start another thread. The difference between “not yet born” and “already born” is key to answering your question.

From a practical and moral standpoint she probably should yes, if it’s a serious defect*. But no, she shouldn’t be required to. Partly because of the already mentioned fact that it’s her body, but also because we know from history what happens when governments start deciding what children are and aren’t biologically “acceptable”.
*And yes, “serious defect” is a rather subjective term; another reason the government would do poorly at such a decision.

I’ve got a family member who would have been aborted by these criteria. That would have deprived the world of an extremely prosocial and kind genius. I support the parent(s)’ choice in these matters, but challenge the idea that serious disabilities automatically translate to a net negative experience for the family or society.


Who is to say what’s a “serious defect”? There are some circles in which simply being female is seen as a defect which results in a choice to abort. Others would abort a fetus known to have a cleft palate. Yet others would strongly oppose the notion that a diagnosis of Down syndrome is a defect that would justify abortion. Who’s right?

And, however else gets to grapple with these questions, I’m with Der Trihs that its’ not business of the state.

The logic of a pro-choice position is that the woman concerned gets to make the decision, not because she is particularly wise or particularly moral, but because it’s her body, and there is nobody who can have a right superior to hers to make this decision.

Aside from post #13, which gets a “bwuh?”, I see my opinion has been well-expressed by others who share it.

Should or “be required to”? You asked the latter in your OP.