Thursday 8 December 2016

Let's not rush to judge over baby Gammy

Kneejerk sentiment is all very well, says Brendan O'Connor, but let's think before we demonise parents for not wanting a child with Downs

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

Realities: Gammy, a baby born with Down syndrome, is fed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Thailand.
Realities: Gammy, a baby born with Down syndrome, is fed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Thailand.
A campaign to raise funds for Gammy in Thailand raised more than 3 million Thai baht ($93,360) in less than a day for the medical treatment of the baby

Try and put out of your head for a minute everything we subsequently learned about David and Wendy Farnell, the parents accused of abandoning one of their surrogate twins because that child, baby Gammy, had Down syndrome (DS). When the world first became fixated on the story, the details about David Farnell's history as a paedophile had yet to emerge. At that point he stood accused merely of abandoning baby Gammy because the child had DS. Let's also put aside, for a moment, the dispute over whether he did, in fact, abandon the baby, or under what circumstances he did it.

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So let's just look at the story purely as it emerged initially. A man was demonised all over the world because it was reported that, firstly, he encouraged the Thai surrogate mother to abort Gammy when he discovered the unborn baby had Downs. And, subsequently, he abandoned the baby for being imperfect. Cue outrage in the world's media. Anguish all over social media. Strangers on Twitter saying that their heart was broken over the story. And ultimately a couple of hundred thousand euro collected in an appeal for the baby.

All very nice and caring. And all very easy for people to get their knickers in a twist about, before moving onto the next viral outrage.

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