If you had a choice, would you prefer that your child with special needs had never been born? How about if you asked a friend, somebody peering in on your family from the outside, noting the strain on your marriage and the harm to your career and the wrinkles on your face and the lack of a recognizably promising future? What would that well-meaning individual, your best interests firmly at heart, have to say?
One such friend has written an editorial in the Daily Mail opining that, from her observation of a family's struggle with a severely autistic child, everybody would be better off if a prenatal test for autism had been able to prevent the child's birth. Even the child would be better off, she writes, because he's obviously miserable.
Now, I'm immediately suspicious of a friend who would not be so impertinent as to ask a mother if she wishes she'd aborted her child, but would be so impertinent as to write about it in the newspaper. More than that, though, this sort of argument -- "an autistic child wrecks your life" -- assumes that every one of us has a single shiny path of rightful life experience, and nothing should be allowed to ding that. It's the side roads we wander that make life life, but they often look like dead ends to our friends.
If we're going to use that criteria, though -- "will not wreck your life" -- as a basis for birth, it's worth noting that people who believe themselves good judges of which humans have value and which do not have wrecked a great many more lives than any child with autism, any child at all. Can we have a prenatal test for that?
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