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Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Death

I have written before about the concept of a "wrongful" birth–the legal term used when a mother sues doctors after her child has been born with a disability that wasn't discovered in utero. The idea is that the mother would have aborted, given the proper medical information. I wrote a response to one of these lawsuits a few months back: "A Letter to Mrs. Zhuang." Another 4.5 million has been awarded to a mother in Florida. Click here to read more.

I also read recently of a young woman in Canada who strangled her unwanted infant once he was born. She was released from jail on a three-year suspended sentence for a variety of reasons, including the judge's words that:

. . . while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support.

These cases raise important questions. Of course there are the moral and ethical concerns– Is infanticide the same as abortion? Should children with disabilities be considered wrongfully born? Is abortion a valid response to disability? But they also raise the larger societal concerns: How could we better support women with children with disabilities? Women with unwanted pregnancies?

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