John Bull, long-lived and much-beloved English yeoman farmer, has died of self-inflicted wounds.
Although born in comparatively modern times (1712), Bull’s ancestors trace their lineage to the fall of the Roman Empire (476 CE). Signal events in Bull’s family archive included the Norman Invasion (1066), signing of the Magna Carta (1215), defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), and union with Scotland, thereby birthing the United Kingdom (1707). Bull’s finest hour came in 1940, when he and his countrymen staved off a Nazi invasion, saving both the Old World and the New from fascist dictatorship.
Immediately recognizable by his ample profile (a legacy, no doubt, of many a pleasant afternoon at the Village pub), and his waistcoat emblazoned with the Union Jack, Bull was widely admired, both at home and abroad. Washington Irving, American author and creator of such well-known tales as Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, described him as:
“…[A] plain, downright, matter-of-fact fellow, with much less of poetry about him than rich prose. There is little of romance in his nature, but a vast deal of a strong natural feeling. He excels in humour more than in wit; is jolly rather than gay; melancholy rather than morose; can easily be moved to a sudden tear or surprised into a broad laugh; but he loathes sentiment and has no turn for light pleasantry. He is a boon companion, if you allow him to have his humour and to talk about himself; and he will stand by a friend in a quarrel with life and purse, however soundly he may be cudgelled.”
Bull had been, until recently, a steadying influence on his country’s affairs.
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We began this thread in the aftermath of the Indiana State Legislature’s decision to remove disability in the offspring as a legal reason for termination of pregnancy Go here to read the full text of the legislation).
I asked readers for their opinion of what they would do if they were a doctor practicing in Indiana. This proved to be an overwhelming or unanswerable question. (In any case, I got no answers!). Then I rephrased the question: If you found yourself or your partner pregnant and the fetus had a genetic disorder, and you were planning to discuss the issue with your doctor, how would you like your doctor to treat you? My hope was that wording the question this way would make it more accessible – since everyone has been a patient at one time or another, and we all have expectations of how we’d like to be treated by the doctor.
I received an extended reply from a woman named Anne, who is the mother of a child with severe disabilities. Although Anne was prepared to accept abortion for various other reasons, she equated termination of pregnancy on the grounds of disability in the offspring with repudiating the value of her own living child with disabilities: “If people like [my son] can’t depend on their own mothers or on their [physicians] to defend, fiercely, their place in this world, then we’ve failed.”