I guess I could also call this “Isaac Comment of the Day Rebuttal Friday,” but it’s not quite as catchy.
Here is Here’s Johnny’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Texas’s Clever Anti-Abortion Law,” followed by, as in the earlier post today, Isaac’s Comment of the Day response.
“I am of two minds when it comes to abortion. My left side says people have a right to privacy in medical stuff (especially from government), and an absolute right to control of their own bodies. My right side says killing humans is wrong (mostly).
“The left, generally, when it comes to abortion, shies away from recognizing that a human life is being ended, while otherwise, mostly, proclaim the sanctity of human life. The right, generally, when it comes to abortion, shy away from privacy rights, while, otherwise, mostly, proclaiming that government should just leave us alone.
“The suggestion posed here, that the fetus/unborn child be carried to term and placed for adoption, has merit. The last time I checked, there were a lot of potential adoptive parents.
“But, consider a real-world case that I am all too familiar with. The fetus/unborn child is diagnosed in utero as having Down syndrome. The list of potential adoptive parents shrinks considerably. But, the parents are opposed to abortion, the child is born, and the severity of Down syndrome is far worse than expected. The list of potential adoptive parents would be close to zero. Several surgical procedures are necessary soon after birth, significant expense in money to taxpayers and in both money and time to the parents.
But, the parents never considered placing the child for adoption anyway.
Advance the calendar about a decade and a half. The teen cannot communicate, although she seems to understand some things. She cannot feed herself. She cannot manage using a toilet. She has reached puberty, but cannot manage pads. She can walk, clumsily, but cannot be allowed to wander too far.
“Two grandparents are in the picture, two are not. The grandfather cannot and will not manage her. The grandmother does, but she is unable to do so for more than a day or two.
“An older daughter has moved away and now has minimal contact with the family. She may be trying to ensure she does not become the caretaker when the parents become too old to continue in that role. A son, a couple of years older than the Down child, is still at home, helps when he can, but probably will soon feel that he is being entrapped. The parents have expressed the view that the son and other daughter will care for the Down child when they no longer can.
“So, my right side is happy this human being is cherished. My left side says, WTF, this cannot be right.
“Maybe I’ve got a third side, too, one that tells me this is all on them, and I don’t even need to care one way or the other, kinda like those drone strikes we read about from time to time, those which may have wiped out a few kids along with the bad guys. We scan the story, grimace (kids for God’s sake) and quickly move on.
“I’ve strayed a bit from that ridiculous Texas law. Don’t see how that can stand. Vigilantes? Next thing you know, folks will expect businesses to enforce mask mandates and vaccination passports.”
Once again, here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day reply…
“Perhaps reframe it this way? Any number of crippling afflictions could end up affecting a healthy adult in similar fashion to Downs Syndrome. Head trauma from a car accident at age 20. Severe autism that doesn’t present until the child is several years old. Senility. But under no circumstances do we consider killing a person who BECOMES hard to care for after birth.
“Simply because, with diagnostics and abortion, we have the OPPORTUNITY to kill some “burdens on society” early enough for it to be legal shouldn’t change the ethical equation. The only difference is the stage of human development at which the murder is done, and this distinction makes no sense. There should be no difference between taking a human life at age 20, or taking it 20 years and 6 months before that, or taking it 20 years and 6 months AFTER that.
“If you see a family struggling to care for a child who developed autism while in kindergarten, you don’t think, “it’s a shame that child couldn’t have been eliminated as soon as the autism was diagnosed.” Because that would understood as murder. But in the case of issues that developed in the womb, we are being conditioned by the commonality of abortion to think, “what a shame, they had a chance to erase that kid and no one would have been the wiser. Too bad they didn’t take it.” There is no difference in the present situation of the parents or in the value of the child’s life. So we should be aware that there is something inconsistent and wrong with thinking this way. And the legality and normalization of abortion has done this to us.
“Part of bringing a child into the world, indeed part of living, is accepting that any number of difficult, life-altering, disastrous things could happen at any moment, to either yourself or your loved ones, at all stages of life. A newly married wife could become quadriplegic in a diving accident. A husband of 50 years could develop dementia. A child at age 20 could suddenly have MS and need constant care for the rest of their life. Part of this risk has also always included the chance of birth defects or imperfections. There was never any real way to avoid these risks, other than hiding in bed and avoiding every deep connection to other humans that makes life worthwhile.
“The “compassion” of abortion is that it presents a legal avenue to killing a subset of burdensome children (not “preventing” their issues, mind, which already exist) and therefore sparing parents and society that particular subset of life-risk. You still can’t kill older children, or adults who become a burden later in life (at least not yet,) but if you can spot the problem in the womb, you can snuff that life out before it knows what hit it.
“Of course, this makes no sense if we are to hold on to any concrete understanding that murder is bad. If it’s alright to make an expecting couple’s life easier by literally ending their child’s life, there is no logical reason to deny that relief to the parents of a 5-year old who develops severe autism. Princeton bio-ethicist Peter Singer made the case for killing newborns all the way back in 1993. He was serious. And I don’t think it’s because he gets excited at the thought of euthanizing infants. He really just couldn’t escape the logic. There is NO logical, scientific, or ethical reason why killing a month-old baby is different than killing a 10-week old fetus. If you give both the fetus and the baby Downs Syndrome, the calculus is the same. If you can kill one, you can kill both. You can make the baby 1 month old or 20 years old. It changes not a thing.
“I think your compassion for seeing the difficulty of raising a disabled child through adulthood is just good healthy empathy. It seems unfair for someone to be in that situation while others aren’t. That is why people in that situation often find exceptional support and love from those around them. And this is applicable to a thousand other trials in life that don’t offer the quick fix of socially acceptable homicide. And those trials produce not only struggle and misery, but also some of the most inspirational and life-affirming stories that humankind has ever produced.
“(Some of this sentimentality might have come from me just having watched David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” and reading again about the real life story behind it. I can’t recommend it enough if you haven’t seen it. In fact I can’t stop thinking about it.)”
8 thoughts on “Texas Abortion Law Freakout Friday Presents Comment Of The Day And Response 2 On “Texas’s Clever Anti-Abortion Law””
“But under no circumstances do we consider killing a person who BECOMES hard to care for after birth.”
Where do we stop? As science advances and we are able to detect more and more “disabilities” in utero what is the point where we say, “This isn’t acceptable.” Downs Syndrome is okay for abortion, but deafness is not? As what point does society say this person has no value?
To be honest I’ve have been less than kind with my pro-choice friends. I ask them why sex selection abortions are okay? Why is acceptable to for parents to say they don’t want a daughter (and it’s generally the daughters that are aborted)? They can never really give me a logical reason.
I am reminded of the film Gattaca. Ethan Hawke’s entire educational opportunities and career are mapped out based on genetic fortune telling when he’s an infant.
From Downs Syndrome to gender, someone has decided that this person has no worth.
No, but we do consider dumping them where we will no longer have to care for them. Had I been born 2-3 years earlier or away from the Northeast that might have been my fate. At least two of my teachers thought as much, and who’s to say they weren’t at lease partially right? These days an Asperger’s child has a lot more resources, as far as help, individual learning plans, and assistance in becoming a productive member of society. The problem is also recognized as what it is and treated as a recognized disability issue. Back then? Forget it. You were not someone who was wired differently. You were someone who just didn’t get it and chose to be odd.
They’ve only just now started to come out with tests that will detect autism prenatally. I wonder, even with all the resources available now, might parents decide to abort if they knew? Even with the resources available now, the fact is that a kid with autism, mild or severe, is going to be a major challenge, both for his family and for himself. The speechless ones are bad enough, but they are obviously disabled, and, despite what Michael Savage says, you can’t fix them by telling them to get up and stop acting like a putz. Being right on the borderline is, in some ways, worse, because you are too odd to be normal, yet too normal to be disabled.
For one thing, you will mature much slower than other kids. The other kids will mock you, and your parents will resent that you are still having meltdowns long after they should have stopped and are still afraid of the dark long after you should grasp there’s very little to fear. For another thing, you will have sensory issues. Eventually your parents will get tired of you complaining that the zoo stinks too much for you to handle, or cowering like a frightened rabbit when a fire engine passes, or just never being able to get comfortable in shoes, or refusing to eat peaches or pears because the consistency makes you gag.
You also just won’t “get it” when it comes to certain things. Basic hygiene will need to be learned, it won’t be instinctive, so will basic politeness, and so will the cues that make us able to tell snark from seriousness and not to be gullible. You will stumble, you will offend, and you won’t get why.
Your motor skills will be poor. You’ll probably discover this first when you try to paint or build a model and no matter how hard you work at it, your skills just don’t get better. At first you might say fine, there are other hobbies and it’s a rare person who wants to be a watchmaker. However, what about the girl whose dreams of being a dancer or gymnast are crushed as no matter how hard she tries, no matter how long she practices, she just can’t make her limbs do as she wants them to? What about the boy whose career goal is to be a pilot or a surgeon, who has to face up to the fact that, no matter how hard he works, those dreams are out of reach?
You will be a target. What’s more, because of the poor motor skills you won’t last more than a few weeks or months in a martial arts class before you or your parents get the speech that starts with “you know, karate/kung fu/tae kwon do isn’t for everyone…” You won’t be able to fight back, plus fighting back is not much use against four or five classmates, so you better learn to run and you better learn to get out of sight fast, and you better learn a few ways home. You also better learn to take a beating, because you’re going to get a lot of them. You also better get used to being denied justice, because the bullies will lie for one another and you’ll be blamed for your own situation, because you must have done something to piss these people off to the point where they decided you needed a beating.
You will have trouble making and keeping friends, and a relationship will be almost impossible. While your peers find their true loves, you will find nothing but disappointment. While your classmates are losing their virginity, you’ll be losing even more of your self-respect. You’ll be “that guy” playing videogames at home on prom night while your contemporaries hit the tiles and party into the small hours. Not that it will be necessary, but you might even get a warning or two NOT to show up on prom night, on pain of being thrown into a dumpster (after getting beaten up, of course).
I could say more, but I think you get the point. This isn’t even getting into the impact of all this and much more on your immediate family: parents whose life has twice and three times the pain and the stress and ten percent of the joy or success, siblings who can’t wait to get far away from you so your reputation doesn’t stick to them, extended family who tell your parents you aren’t welcome until you learn how to behave, so one parent always has to stay home with you (because no one will babysit for any amount of money) while the other takes your sibs to the events. Going out as a family is out of the question, and everyone else will resent that, plus resenting the fact that Sunday is shot because one of the parents has to watch you while the other takes everyone else to services, then that parent goes while the returning parent watches you.
I’m against abortion as a matter of convenience for a mom who wants to go to graduate school or a couple who want to move into their own house, or as a matter of enabling slutty/horndog behavior (though I find myself caring less and less about that as I get older). However, it might be viable as an option to spare an individual a life of pain and disappointment, and a family a life of sharing in that.
I think that’s a difficult question.
My daughter is 7-years-old, but she’s in a very similar boat. She’s hyposensitive rather than hypersensitive (so she craves stimulation, to the point of wanting to eat sand, or wanting two tablets playing two different songs. I’ve always said that we’re lucky on that one, but it presents its own challenges), and she is non-verbal, but very smart, can use an AAC device, and she’s beginning to speak so she might have some verbal language. But she isn’t toilet trained, has regular meltdowns, behavior issues, etc.
However, so far, she’s a very happy kid. My mom is a developmental psychologist, and she did a ton of homework and pointed us in the right directions. My husband and I are long time geeks and weirdos, and we’ve had many Autistic friends, so it’s not hard for us to embrace her oddities and at least make home a place where she’s fully appreciated. I had always intended to home school, and though we did try school for social reasons, she was miserable, so we went back to plan A.
I know the really rough parts are still ahead, but I’m still pretty optimistic. No doubt teenaged years will be miserable, they were miserable for me just being geeky and awkward. But I also know more tricks than my parents did for finding the places where the outcasts go, and I know from experience that being a weird girl is a million times better than being a weird boy.
I’m pregnant, but with seven years between the kids I don’t think there will be as much direct impact on either of them. There will be some, but we’re already talking about ways to mitigate it as much as we can.
BUT I know all of this is moral luck. Even though we don’t have much money, we were the perfect people to end up with a kid like my daughter, to help her have the happiest life she can. Not every Autistic kid will be that lucky.
If we had known beforehand, I’m not sure what we would have done. I didn’t know as much then, and couldn’t have known her specific blend of issues. But I do feel like now, knowing what I do, I would risk (and am risking at a higher than average chance) having another Autistic kid, believing I can give them a life well worth living.
But I know that choice isn’t for everyone, and for all I know I may be wrong.
I salute you. I hope your daughter continues to progress.
Thank you, Jack. I’m surprised and honored.
And, I’m glad you kept Isaac’s well-reasoned, compelling reply with it.
You shouldn’t be surprised. Your contributions here are consistently helpful and of high quality. I, we all, are grateful.
Doesn’t mean I won’t give you a hard time on some of them, but nevertheless…
If the prochoice folks acknowledged the other life and evn made it a utilitarian decision, I would maybe agree that it is a complex situation. As far as quality of life…for the mother, the child, the sperm donor, and all the complexities….
I have never been formally diagnosed, but I am likely “on the spectrum”, my wife is a social butterfly. Three kids: Teen girl(him) with asperger’s and a higher IQ than mine and a social Q of negative a million. Middle girl(they) with the joy of being the middle child, 8 year old boy(firetruck) who is ADHD and is at least as High IQ as the eldest. Nothing is easy and nothing fits all of us. Just beig able to communicate simple concepts like “take a shower ” is difficult when you have to figure out how that works for each of the 5 of us at the given moment.