Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Country of Equality

Equality is a nice word, it is something that makes people happy. It is an ideal to be aimed for, and something that we in the west think we are the world leaders at, since we have been passing equality legislation and fighting to defend people for ages now. In our eyes, equality is something to be admired, and nobody does it better than us.

It is true that in some cases the call for equality has gone to far. Equal marriage, for example, has not extended equality in any way, while many seem to believe equality and uniformity are the same thing. On the whole, though, we are a group of people who have it all sussed out.

This is, of course, true except from the fact that we really do not have it all sussed out, a point that has been brought by a parliamentary commission that seems to know what it is talking about.

This commission has decided to ask an important question about the inherent inequality that it sees in abortion legislation, and has recommended that we actually do something about it. In Britain, you cannot have an abortion after 24 weeks, a limit that is as contentious as the issue of abortion itself, except if the abortion is taking place because of severe disability.

If the child is disabled, then they are allowed to be terminated much later into the pregnancy. The commission pointed out, for example, that 90% of children who were confirmed to have Down's syndrome were aborted before they got a chance to be born. While both this statistic and this law are British, it is also worth nothing that disability is a common reason for abortion in a lot of other places too. There is a similar percentage of disabled children being aborted in America, showing that this is not just an issue present in Britain.

As the parliamentary commissioner has pointed out, it is strange that so many disabled children are aborted, and strange that the law in Britain allows for children to be aborted so much later in the pregnancy than any other child. Surely, they say, this does not say much for the western obsession with equality, since we seem to think it is ok for a child who is disabled to be terminated simply because they are disabled. Whether it be the parents decision to abort, or a government legislating about abortion, disability seems to be a big factor behind whether children are allowed to live.

There is an argument, of course, that seeks to justify this. A child who is disabled may not, it could be argued, experience the same quality of life. Therefore, continuing with a pregnancy would simply be bringing a child into the world in order for them to experience suffering, something that surely cannot be a good thing. A child in pain is never a good thing, and abortion is often the way that people choose to spare children this. After all, maybe it is better to have ever lived than to live in pain.

In addition, the argument could be used, although I think most people would find it as revolting as I do, that a disabled child is simply a drain on society, and maybe it would be better if we did not have to burden ourselves with that problem. Maybe it is not only better for the child, but also the rest of us, if they are not given the opportunity to be born.

Of course, these two arguments are ones that are seriously flawed, and have led to well intentioned people doing things that are abhorrent. The first argument, in which a child should not be allowed to be born because of their quality of life, ignores fact that life itself is a gift from God, something that cannot truly be measured by your physical or mental ability.

Humanity really has no authority to go around deciding upon someone's quality of life, and any disabled person has such huge potential that it is bizarre that society may deem them unfit to have a go at life.

The huge number of abortions due to disability that take place is possibly down to the disposability of babies that is now prevalent throughout the western world. The availability of abortion on demand, whether de facto or de jure, means that children within the womb are very easy to get rid of.

At worst, this could mean that some are disposed of because they are like faulty goods, and at best it means that the well intentioned, who seek to do what is best for their child, are led down the path of aborting the baby for its own good. Neither or these options are good for the child, as its death simply adds to the millions of others who have died needlessly.

It seems that abortion is a bastion of inequality, where the disabled in particular do not fair well. Whether or not you agree with women having a right of choose over their children's life, it is hard to argue that abortion is not screwed up.

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