Just like the Spartans
Do we have the right to terminate a pregnancy because the baby is imperfect?
Apparently the Spartans threw their unwanted babies from the city walls shortly after birth. All newborns were inspected and if they did not make the grade, they got tossed. And basically you had to be perfectly formed to make the grade: 10 fingers, toes, one nose, two eyes and not more than two ears, preferably situated on either side of the head.

This kinda thing was not uncommon back in the day and there are historic accounts of several cultures leaving unwanted ill-formed babies out in the cold to be devoured by nature. With the modern technology available today, it has come to light that deformities can be detected in the womb and the foetus is summarily ‘disposed’ of or aborted on request.

It got me wondering, has anything really changed, but for the advances in medicine? Is this not the same thing, bar a technicality or two?

I was moved to tears watching a programme about a little girl born with no arms. This kid’s learnt to do some things with her feet that some able-bodied people can’t even contemplate. She types, eats, does dishes, does karate, paints and, and, and, without any arms.

And yes, I get the other side of the picture too. In my youth I dated a girl who had a sister who was severely handicapped mentally and physically. I noticed that her sister was in a wheel chair and clearly quite a happy soul, but it was blatantly obvious that while the lights were on, there most definitely wasn’t anybody home for any extended period of time. The ‘challenge’ of having this kid was not lost on me.

My ex-girlfriend’s family were exceptional in the way that they embraced her, flaws and all. She was in all ways, loved and cherished and completely a part of the family.

With two of my kids we had to do the amniocentesis during the pregnancy to see if all was well, and I must admit, I really don’t know how I would react if the tests indicated a special needs kid. Luckily all was well.

Abortion and the whole pro-choice thing has been debated to death and there’ll probably never be a resolution to satisfy both sides of the argument. What I want to explore here though is whether or not it is ethical to terminate a ‘handicapped’ foetus.

How different are we to the Spartans do you think?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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