According to the Brisbane Times, an Australian couple decided to have their fetus aborted at seven months after they discovered that the baby would be born with a deformed left hand.
Their decision has sparked a major controversy within Australia and beyond.
It all began when the mother-to-be, Cindy, was 23 weeks pregnant. She and her husband immediately sought permission from the hospital to have the procedure done. Within New South Wales, Australia, late-term abortions are considered a criminal act that is punishable by 10 years in jail.
“I grew up with many people who were disabled, and… there was discrimination,” explains Cindy. “I didn’t want my child to be discriminated against. The problem is… obvious because it is the fingers, and I think the child would have a very hard life.”
Cindy is originally from China, where she explains kids living with disabilities don’t fare too well. This greatly influenced her decision to abort.
“It felt very inhumane, to be honest,” Frank said. “We were being told that our only option was to give birth to a baby that we did not wish to give birth to at all.We felt we have been forgotten and abandoned through the political and judicial uncertainty of the abortion laws”.
Frank says that Cindy became very depressed after she was denied a late-term abortion. Finally, the couple was referred to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where the pregnancy was terminated.
While it appears there are some valid reasons for late-term abortions, the issue at hand pushes the debate much further. The fetus would have produced a baby with a cleft hand, also referred to as ‘ectrodactyly,’ it most likely would have been born quite healthy and could have lived a full life.
According to Ainsley Newson, senior lecturer in bioethics at the University of Sydney, “Distinguishing between serious and more minor conditions identified during pregnancy is difficult,” she said. “There is no clinical or ethical agreement, and different people will respond to a diagnosis in different ways.”
Those who oppose Cindy’s decision to abort are of the opinion that the couple was worried more about their own idea of perfection than the life they were creating.
On the contrary, Cindy’s supporters argue that her decision wasn’t an easy one, and in the end she should have been granted the full reign over her own body from the beginning.