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Jokin de Irala, Full Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the School of Medicine and researcher principal of the project 'Education ' of the affectivity and human sexuality ' of the Institute for Culture and Society

False medical reasons

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:02:00 +0000 Published in La Razón

As the massive demonstration held on November 22 showed, abortion continues to mobilize people. At stake is the life of the unborn; a living human being, who is already living among us but, for the moment, is inside his mother's womb.

He is one of us; we were one day like that. This is not an ideological licence , but a scientific reality. Also at stake is the future of his mother and father, probably frightened, overwhelmed by this pregnancy, who feel alone, abandoned and who need financial aid to be able to make the most humane decision. A decision that does not turn them into "parents who have got rid of their unborn child", because it is not possible to erase motherhood and fatherhood.

The existence of a disease in the embryo or the possibility of its death shortly after birth are two issues that are insurmountable for some people who therefore accept abortion. Some define "therapeutic" abortion as "abortion performed for medical reasons". It is proposed to the parents of an unborn child with Down syndrome. Therapy means treatment and has the goal of eliminating a disease. But it is clear that there is nothing "therapeutic" about "therapeutic abortion".

In the case of an unborn patient with Down syndrome, what therapeutic abortion entails is death, elimination, and not treatment to heal the patient. The "medical reasons" should, when faced with a pregnant woman, lead the doctor to take care of three people: the mother, her baby and also the father. Fortunately, resources are allocated to care for people with disabilities but, at the same time, disabled babies are killed before they are born. The only difference between one and the other status is that the latter do not yet have their umbilical cord cut. People with disabilities are not "less valuable", they should be able to share their lives with ours.

On other occasions, parents receive the news that their child will die at birth or shortly thereafter. This news causes them great suffering and they need all the support they can get from staff , from people who love them and others who may have experienced the same thing. But a baby born with a severe disability can be loved and cared for by its parents until it dies. Experience sample shows that these situations can bring out the best in these parents and family members. By caring for the seriously ill child, they will be loving him or her as parents, exercising their parenthood until the child dies.

When a child is born, we do not know how long it will live. And any duration will be short for those who love him. The value of a life is not determined by its duration. Abortion is the intentional and anticipated death of that child. Caring for a child until the day of his or her death financial aid helps parents to overcome the pain of their loss. It is part of the emotional healing process that financial aid overcomes a loss. However hard it may be to do so, you will recover better by caring for that child together until his or her natural death and by taking comfort in the fact that you loved him or her until the end. It is a very humane solution. Abortion never makes it "business as usual" for those parents, as if that pregnancy had never existed. They will have been the parents of a sick baby, whether it was born or not. Abortion will impede mourning and the natural pain of that loss will be compounded by another.

A person with a disability is still valuable and always contributes something positive (see Pablo Pineda, actor with Down's Syndrome and winner of a Silver Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival, or Daniel Stix, with spina bifida and professional basketball player on wheels). If a pregnant woman and her partner find the necessary support and help, they can move forward with their lives and that of their child. But when a society does not value a person for what he or she is, but rather for reaching certain expected standards of "quality", it slides towards discrimination. May we not continue on this path. May we love every human being passionately.