Tuesday 24 January 2017

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

Fr Sean Mac Giollarnath

Published 29/01/2016 | 02:30

'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.

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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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