June 21st, 2016 by drcoplan
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.”
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June 1st, 2016 by drcoplan
A few weeks ago, we started a discussion stemming from Indiana’s new state law forbidding termination of pregancy based upon the disability status of the fetus (here, and here). I asked readers to write in, and tell me what they wanted in the way of a physician, if they were ever in that situation. A reader wrote in and offered her comments. Here, we will continue that dialog.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. Let me try to respond to your email point by point. I will use “>>” marks to set off my responses.
1. Oh, I’m famous! Hee!
>> Use your 15 minutes of fame wisely!
I was conscious of skirting around the question at the time, in part because I still wrestle with my own thoughts around my own experiences.
>> Wrestling with one’s own thoughts and experiences is a useful process. Jacob wrestles with an “Ish” (conventionally translated as “angel,” but the actual meaning in Hebrew is ambiguous). He fights the Ish to a draw. The Ish blesses Jacob, conferring upon him a new name – ”Israel” (literally, “I have struggled with God”), but at the same time wounds him in the groin, so that he walks with a limp forever afterwards. I see that as a metaphor: We struggle with our inner selves, and that struggle transforms us into something better – although we often bear the scars of our struggles, inwardly or outwardly. If you’re not a big fan of Scripture, then perhaps Hemmingway will resonate: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
Implicit in my response is a gentle, respectful admonishment to both of us– if people like Peter can’t depend on their own mothers or on their psychiatrists to defend, fiercely, their place in this world, then we’ve failed.
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