Sunday 26 February 2017

What kind of response is abortion to the illness of a dearly wished-for child?

Fr Sean Mac Giollarnath

'Whatever the probability of a life-limiting condition – and there may often be a degree of uncertainty – there is a common assumption that the prospect of a child’s life being short and painful is adequate grounds for abortion.' Thinkstock Images
'Whatever the probability of a life-limiting condition – and there may often be a degree of uncertainty – there is a common assumption that the prospect of a child’s life being short and painful is adequate grounds for abortion.' Thinkstock Images

The heartbreak of parents who discover that their beloved child has a fatal and life-limiting condition is something intimate and personal. Others - such as family members and friends - might share the grief. There is, however, something incommunicable in the grief the parents carry. They are unique and the fact is that their lives are unrepeatable.

Our shared humanity gives us the capacity for empathy, which opens up for us a picture of how someone else is suffering and offers us some insight into how to help them at a particular moment in their lives. Various people - parents of children who faced life-limiting conditions, but also public representatives and doctors - have recently lifted the veil on this suffering.

The recent calls by Dr Rhona Mahony and Professor Fergal Malone for the consideration of abortion in cases of life-limiting conditions reveal how some view this challenge.

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