Sunday, May 28, 2006

Kill those babies with club feet and cleft palate

UK: The line keep getting pushed further and further across the pond as babies being born with "defects" easily fixed are being aborted for not being perfect.

MORE than 20 babies have been aborted in advanced pregnancy because scans showed that they had club feet, a deformity readily corrected by surgery or physiotherapy. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics covering the years from 1996 to 2004, a further four babies were aborted because they had webbed fingers or extra digits, which are also corrected by simple surgery. All the terminations took place late in pregnancy, after 20 weeks. Last year, according to campaigners, a healthy baby was aborted in the sixth month at a hospital in southeast England after ultrasound images indicated part of its foot was missing. News of the terminations has reignited the debate over how scanning and gene technology may enable the creation of “designer babies”. In 2002 it emerged that a baby had been aborted late — at 28 weeks — after scans found that it had a cleft palate, another readily corrected condition. .....Despite the ease with which it can be treated, the perception that club foot is a serious birth defect has remained among some parents and doctors. “It was strongly suggested that we consider abortion after they found our baby had a club foot,” said David Wildgrove, 41, a computer programmer from Sheffield, whose son Alexander was born in 1996. “I was appalled. We resisted, the problem was treated and he now runs around and plays football with everyone else.” Pippa Spriggs from Cambridge, whose son Isaac will celebrate his second birthday in July, was also dismayed when a scan halfway through the pregnancy revealed that her baby had the defect. “Abortion certainly was not openly advised, but it was made clear to me it was available,” she said. “In fact he has been treated and the condition has not slowed him down at all.” ...Naomi Davis, a leading paediatric surgeon at Manchester children’s hospital who specialises in correcting club feet, said: “I think it’s reasonable to be totally shocked that abortion is being offered for this. It is entirely treatable. I can only think it is lack of information.”
There are defenders of these gutless parents and doctors.
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.”
I can see how difficult it is to kill a baby because he has a problem that can be easily fixed after he is born. Understandable.

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