Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wanted: Perfect Feet

The United Kingdom's Sunday Times is reporting that more than twenty children were aborted late in pregnancy because of various foot problems (all of which are easily corrected by surgery) from 1996 to 2004 in the UK.

One of the foot problems/reasons for abortion mentioned is extra digits. Though this is very rare, I just can't fathom this.

I have a brother-in-law who was born with 7 toes (the extra two toes extended from near his big toe) on one of his feet. He lived with these extra toes for around a year (I can't remember the exact time) until he had surgery to get rid of the toes. The in-laws recently had a party for his college graduation and his mother (my mother-in-law) had out a bunch of old pictures including pictures of him back when he still had piggy #11 and piggy #12. The pictures were quite interesting and everyone always has a good laugh when my mother-in-law tells the story of how she thought something was "really wrong" with my brother-in-law after he was born because the doctors took him to another room or something like that. Though his foot is still slightly abnormal (I think he has an extra bone in there) this didn't stop him from playing soccer or basketball for his high school. Or from beating me by 20 strokes in golf yesterday (this is largely my fault as I am literally the worst chipper on the face of the Earth).

How can someone have an abortion at 20+ weeks because their unborn child has an extra toe? That's insane. The Times article only cites one person who defends the practice of aborting 20+ week unborn children because they have abnormal feet.
Jane Fisher, director of the charity Antenatal Results and Choices, defended the right of parents to terminate pregnancies when defects were found.

"This is not part of a move towards designer babies," she said. "These are difficult and painful issues."

A difficult and painful issue? Is it really that painful to give birth to a child with an abnormal foot and then have a doctor fix the problem after birth?

Have some couples been so ingrained with the idea that they're going to have a "perfect baby" that any slight visible abnormality leads them to abort? At 20+ weeks too? These are wanted or planned pregnancies were one would think that these women/couples would have already bonded with their child.

But it's still a woman's right to choose, right? What if the 20+ week child has brown eyes instead of blue or red hair instead of brown? Is it still a woman's right to choose? Does the right to choose include the right to have a child customized to your liking and the right to abort every child that doesn't fit into that mold.

By no means am I saying that most abortions occur for these reasons but it seems to follow that if one believes that a woman has a right to abortion because of the bodily autonomy argument, she has that right for whatever reason (extra toes, brown eyes, red hair, big nose, etc.) she chooses.

UPDATED: Amy Welborn correctly notes, "It will be a fine day when reporters on stories like this go to abortion-rights groups for their reactions. And press them on their reactions. And print them."

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