Adonis Diaries

The rights to know and be informed; Abortion cases

Posted on: February 17, 2009

The rights to know and be informed; Abortion cases (February 17, 2009)

            The rights to know and be informed include the rights to voluntary deciding not to know and not to be informed.  There are various domains that are affected by these rights but this essay will focus on the cases of fetuses that are known to be born handicapped because of development in medical technologies and knowledge. The legal consequences for those who want to know and those who refuse to know are different but their offspring are not supposed to bear the consequences of the parents’ decision as long as the acts of the offspring do not legally affect the parents.

            The medical field has the capabilities to predict a wide array of ailments and diseases that a new born might experience by testing a blood sample from a pregnant woman.   Let us take the case of parents, for some kinds of principles or religious beliefs, opt not to know and the new born is handicapped for life.  Who is to pay the bills and the physical and psychological maintenance of the handicapped? If the State legislates against abortion then it is the State responsibility to support both the handicapped person and the parents.  If the State legislates for abortion in specific cases but the parents decide to keep the baby then can the State refuses to shoulder its responsibilities because it permitted choices?  If a State refuses to give choices then people would label it authoritarian, patriarchal, dictatorial, and other defaming connotations. In any case, it is the whole lot of citizens, “the community of the larger village”, that would sustain the brunt of the calamity.

The surgeon Bernard Bebre published an interesting case.  A pregnant mother fears that she contracted rubella from her one of her sons and tells her gynecologist that she prefers to have abortion if she has contracted rubella.  The laboratory tests were negative; she has no rubella.  The new born is handicapped and shows all the signs that the mother indeed had rubella.   After many years in courts and counter appeals the highest court in France decides that both the parents and the new born are to be materially compensations in the millions of Francs.

Dr, Debre is not happy that the court has compensated for the handicapped new born on the ground that a causality link was established that “what did not prevent abortion of a handicapped baby has contributed to the handicap”.  Dr. Debre is perturbed that the medical profession would get on the defensive and physicians would no longer exercise personal decision; Dr. Debre complained that the appreciation of the court is not competent and has no means to evaluate what the medical practioner could have “decided in his soul and in his conscious”.  I beg to differ.

The supposedly independent court of justice has to do its job as the physician has to do his job of warning his patients of potential diseases.  If the court fails to remind the State administrations that there are important cases to study seriously and legislate for them then who will do it?  The Parliament in France finally legislated that only the parents can demand compensations for wrong doing; and the law ended by stating that the solidarity of the whole community should take charge of any deficiencies in handicapped born babies.  Thus, the whole burden is laid on the parents to demand to know and to be informed of the status of their fetus and then to decide for an abortion.  France would be glad to save tons of money on handicapped persons by permitting abortions before 12 weeks of conception if parents care to save their potential handicapped baby from physical and mental miseries.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote “If a single individual could be regarded as detritus then one hundred thousand people are a mound of garbage” That quote is fundamentally valid of how apartheid, totalitarian, theocratic, and racist political systems think of and act toward their citizens.  But this saying is not relevant to our case.  If a handicapped person thinks all his life that he is detritus in the view of society at large and that he just show brief moments of revolts against his conditions and the attitude of society, then should this handicapped individual be permitted to live on the ground of potential brief spiritual victories over his condition?

I take the position that a pregnant mother should by law know and be informed on the potential diseases of her fetus; and yes parents who refused to abort based on full knowledge should be judged for carrying through a handicapped baby.  Handicapped individuals too have rights to taking to justice parents who let them suffer, be humiliated, be treated worse than dirt, in isolated basement or attics and away from the common people.  I challenge all those people who refuse to know and to abort to sign up for taking the responsibility of the handicapped new born.

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February 2009

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