A World without handicapped children?

Posted on | February 2, 2013 by Stefan Kirchner |

In 2011 the German parliament was divided beyond party lines on the issue of pre-implantation diagnostics (PID) of embryos. The parliament eventually decided to allow PID, thereby weakening the protection of the right to life of the unborn child ex utero. On friday, the Federal Council (vaguely similar in function to the US Senate), which represents the interests of the states in the lawmaking process on the federal level, agreed to an ordinance which will allow PID. After such a diagnosis parents can decide whether or not to have implanted an embryo who is not healthy. Even if kept in cryostasis, embryos who are not implanted will die eventually.
Allowing this choice can create the impression that life with a disease or a handicap might not be worth living. This seriously endangers the right to life not just of the unborn child but of everyone – because everyone can become sick or handicapped. Already today, many countries allow even late-term abortions if the unborn child is found to be ill or handicapped. In some jurisdictions, such as Austria, even a cleft lip and palate is reason enough to legally allow an abortion. This approach, which some might claim to be helpful for parents, does the opposite by placing an inhuman burden on parents: if the majority view in a society is that predictable handicaps etc. can be avoided (by killing the unborn child in question), parents might feel forced to justify why they did not have an abortion despite being aware of the fact that their son or daughter is handicapped. The long-term damage done by such laws goes far beyond the individual victim but contributes to the establishment of a culture of death.

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Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.

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