Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Disagree with Spinka on Abortion
Department of Educational Foundations and Inquiry
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403
From: JASA 30 (September 1978): 143-144.
Re: "Society and Abortion," Journal ASA 30, No. 1, March, 1978, Spinka implied that mentally retarded children were better off not being born. This is a very narrow, one-sided approach to a problem which has many ramifications. One whom has worked extensively with retarded children, at least educable and trainable mentally retarded children, finds that in many ways these citizens can be happy, well-adjusted, productive contributors to society. While those of us who are not retarded may have a feeling of superiority, believing we are "better than they are," this is a very narrow view which extensive work with retarded children and adults usually rectifies. Within their own world they can be quite happy and not uncommonly find more rewarding lives than non-retarded people. As a whole these people are much less of a burden on society than criminals, the insane, and some may add, infants, the chronically sick, the unemployed and a number of other groups. My own personal experience is that I have never seen happier children than those who are supposedly "suffering" from "Down's syndrome." At Bowling Green State University, I am involved in teacher training programs where a number of our students are preparing for careers in working with the mentally retarded. These students find this work extremely rewarding and fulfilling. It is time we remove some of the prejudices and misconceptions against this group of Americans we have labeled retarded. Relative to the desirability of aborting a child who would most likely be retarded, I for one, would not want to make the decision that another person, even if that person is retarded, should not have life. Nor would I want to make the decision that a child born with another defect, whether structural or otherwise, is better off not alive. If anyone should make this decision it should be the child himself. If the child makes the decision in the negative, it is termed suicide, which is likewise condemned by society. At least among retarded children, this alternative is rarely evoked, even when the means available to do so are readily available.