There is need for compassion and understanding in some
special cases, although it should never be at the cost of justice. Concerning
the threat to the mother's life, fortunately with good medical care such cases
are rare. A heavy responsibility rests with the doctor whose decision will be
taken into consultation with a second opinion and all parties concerned. One
can only accept their considered opinion in such cases.
The 1967 Abortion Act also covers the eventuality of a child
who might be born seriously handicapped. One doctor has commented that the
breeding of defectives is a worse evil than abortion. But what message does
that send out to our friends and relatives who are handicapped, but living
happy and useful lives? Does it mean that really shouldn't be here? Such ideas
come perilously near to those of Hitler and cannot be tolerated. One person who
would have been regarded as a candidate for abortion had a father who was
syphilitic and a mother who had tuberculosis. Their first child was born blind
and second child died. The third was deaf and dumb and the fourth was also
tubercular. A doctor was asked what he would have done in such circumstances.
He answered "I would have ended the pregnancy". "Then" replied his friend, "you
would have murdered Beethoven!"
Rape of course presents an awful dilemma for the victim, but
we must still not lose sight of the child despite the circumstances of the
conception. The prophet Ezekiel said that the son should not bear the iniquity
of the father.
We ask then whether a child should be punished (losing its life) because of the
sin (the rape) of the father? This is exceptionally sensitive ground and should
be approached with great care and compassion.
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