When man decides who should live and who should die
Life is a gift we have received. We are thankful to our parents that we are given a chance to live this life. It is not what we chose, our parents considered every child a wanted child.
And now with the development of medical technology, we can detect anomalies when the baby is in the mother’s womb.
As a result if there is a fetal impairment called “Incompatible with life” one of the options is to kill the child while in the uterus also called termination of pregnancy.
The sad part is that rather than using medical technology to heal the disease we doctors are killing the child to be born due to the limitations of medical science without than taking the challenge to help the child live a quality life.
The danger of this trend coming to our country is going to be to the children to be born in the future, as there is a high probability that they may not get a chance to be born.
This is a serious decision the doctor imposes on the parents where they will decide to kill their own child as the doctor can not cure the disease. This adds to the mental trauma where they suffer from the guilt of killing their own fetus. This painful silent suffering goes on until the end of the parents lives.
But if we doctors respect human life from the moment of conception until natural death, we have done our best to preserve and respect life even if the child dies after birth. The parents and the doctor can sleep peacefully saying honestly to their conscience that they have done their best to preserve life.
And the other reality which we must understand humbly is the fact that man is born to make mistakes, wrong judgments, diagnosis and prognostic outcomes as some fetal impairments, cannot be diagnosed with hundred percent accuracy while the baby is grow- ing inside the mother. Thus a child who will have a chance to live might also be killed by the doctor.
I would like to discuss some of the conditions justifying killing ( termination of pregnancy) that are recommended by the medical professionals
Osteo genesis imperfecta
Brittle bone disease is where the baby is more prone to have many fractures. This disease has many types, and some types are compatible with life. eg. type 1, type 4.
Douglas Jhon Herland was a person born with osteogenesis imperfecta. He won the bronze medal in the 1984 summer olympics. He also promoted adaptive rowing for the disabled. Luckily for him his parents neve r thought of him as incompatible with life and as going to be a burden to society. Douglas lived for nearly 40 years.
Is a condition where the fetus has no developed kidneys. And as a result there is less amniotic fluid and the fetus gets compressed inside the uterus. Thus the air passage is not formed well. According to doctors there is a hundred percent chance the child will die, so they advise the child be killed while the baby is growing inside the mother.
But this is what Jaime Herrera Beutler, a US Republican congress woman and her husband did when she was told her baby has potters disease and the doctors advised her to kill the baby growing inside her. She refused and went to a different doctor at John Hopkins in Baltimore who was willing to try a treatment that could potentially save the fetus. The doctor injected multiple doses of normal saline into the congress woman’s abdomen (uterus) creating enough fluid for the baby’s lungs to develop. Abigail was born, according to Dr. Steven Alexander a paediatric kidney specialist, while she was on dialysis. And her father donated the kidney and Abigail is still alive. So who are doctors to decide who should die?
Is a general term for disorders of development of bone and cartilage
Achondroplasia as it is commonly called is also included in this and is not a disease incompatible with life. Thus where the proper boundaries are, the indications for killing the fetus, is not clear cut: these should be killed and these should be preserved. Authorities should be more responsible in these grave and serious matters as innocent healthy babies will also get killed.
Another mistake the Law Commission of Sri Lanka has made in this serious issue is that a post mortem examination of the killed baby is not included to be sure that the diagnosis of the doctor was accurate. If he has made a mistake of killing a heathy child proper legal action should be taken against the doctor.
Little miss courage
Rashmi Gunawardena was born with only one leg. She writes with her only foot. she was the only student to pass the grade five scholarship exam with 153 marks for the last 10 years from Deloluwa Junior School. If this law was there the chances of Rashmi being born a live would be slim
It is very unfortunate that doctors do not understand that going against the laws of nature will be the down fall of humanity.
Finally I would like to remind the doctors of the Hippocratic oath which we stood by which specifically spells out not to perform abortions and to safe guard human life from the very moment of conception.
And the other fact the people of this country should be aware of is that abortion harms the woman’s body in many ways. It is safe to continue the pregnancy to term and deliver.
Always remember abortion is always safe for the doctor because it is not his body he is doing the procedure on. It is the woman who has to live with the short and long term consequences of an abortion.
Killing the fetus is of course the easy way out, preserving life is difficult. But what we have to do is the correct thing, not what is convenient to us.
(The writer practicesPediatric Ophthalmology at the Lady Ridgeway
The sad part is that rather than using medical technology to heal the disease we doctors are killing the child to be born due to the limitations of medical science.
Rashmi Gunawardena, a courageous student