Friday, February 22, 2008

Differently Abled

After class on Thursday I had to question myself and try to put myself in the position of someone who has been told that their child has a possibility of having bad genes. Would I abort a child purely based on some screening test that shows a percent chance of some sort of disability? Children who suffer from serious disabilities do create money problems for a lot of parents as well as putting mental strain on the parents, and in extreme cases taking care of a disabled child becomes a parent’s full time job. My 9 year old cousin has Asperger’s Syndrome which is a variation of autism that most noticeably affects social interactions. Asperger’s is believed to be a genetic disorder, so is an example of a disease that might show up on a fetal genetic screen. Already at the age of 9 my cousin can name almost all of the countries on a world map. He can see any type of plane or boat and tell you what sort it is and the history of it and what wars they used it in and what type of weapons it carried on and on. He excels far ahead of the rest of the kids in his math class. He’s brilliant. If my aunt and uncle had been told during my aunt’s pregnancy that her child would have a genetic disorder and decided to terminate the pregnancy… my world would be a dimmer place. I like the term differently abled that someone brought up in class. Just because my cousin has difficulties that have caused my aunt and uncle strain and money doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess a million other amazing qualities.

I took these thoughts a step further and looked to history. If genetic testing had always existed there would be a lot of gaps in history where we would be missing amazing historical figures. Here are just a couple of the big ones:

Abe Lincoln: thought to have Asperger’s. Struggled with depression and bi-polar tendencies which are both common effects of Asperger’s.

Einstein: also thought to have Asperger’s. He had late speech development and difficulty keeping up in school.

Stephen Hawking and Lou Gehrig: Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS

Lord Byron: club foot or talipes

Henry Ford: dyslexic

The list is endless. Tons of famous influential people were born with genetic disabilities. Tons of people who wouldn’t be here today had their parents decided they didn’t want to have a child with a disability.

It’s important for people to be different.

1 comment:

Haseeb A. said...

I agree with what you are saying. I think terminating a pregnancy solely based on an abnormality in the baby seems inhumane. I feel that as long as both the mother and baby can live a healthy still challenging life after childbirth, the baby should be given a chance to life.