"What would you think," My seventh grade teacher asked our class, "if people could chose the color of their babies' eyes, or what gender the baby would be?" The class replied on the general consensus that it sounded incredibly creepy. The year was 1978. Abortion was certainly legal, in the state where I was living; even a woman on welfare could still get a legal abortion. So we were surprised but should not have been, when our teacher revealed to us it was already possible for parents to gender select their baby. She didn't mean of course, that X and Y chromosomes were places in a Petri dish. She meant people could simply abort a pregnancy that wasn't turning out to desired gender.
At this information several of my classes were visibly repulsed. The idea of aborting a human life based on gender was shocking to us. I had to wonder though, if a family felt that strongly about it â€“ who is to say what evil they might do if forced to have a child of the wrong sex. What if the child were abandoned or neglected after birth? Surely an abortion would be less painful? Of course they could have the child and give it up for adoption, but people don't. For no reasonable reason, people have kids they don't want all the time. Some people view their children as property or objects and no end sick crimes have been perpetrated on vulnerable young people.
When I was in college there was a very famous case where a young girl gave birth to her baby in the restroom at her prom, left the baby to die in the trash, and went back out to enjoy the dance. Her parents stood by her as she went to trial. She was too afraid to tell her parents about the pregnancy yet unable to take care of business on her own. There was general public outcry at the time of parents being alerted if their underage daughter attempted to get a legal abortion at a clinic. One wonders if the poor girl and her baby both would have been better off if she had aborted within her first trimester and never told her parents.
Many young women tour the lecture circuit speaking to anti-choice groups about the psychological damage done by the decision to abort a pregnancy. These women like to stress the horrors of the extreme guilt, the possible physical damage done to their bodies, the chronic depression. They feel strongly that because their own experience was so overwhelmingly negative that if they can talk other young women into giving birth to unexpected offspring, they are performing a valuable community service. The only problem with that logic is that post abortion guilt is not a universal experience. I know personally many women who have had numerous abortions without the least bit of guilt or sadness. I think world view has everything to do with it. If you were never raised with the idea that ending a potential human life is tragic, why would you feel bad? One woman I know had eight abortions without regret, another had four. One had two abortions and regretted both deeply. Every woman is different. It's very arrogant to decide for someone else how they "should" feel.
The thought occurred to me that the reason for the abortion may affect the reaction to it. A person who is a aborting an unviable fetus, one with Down's Syndrome, or the product of a rape may adjust to the sorrow sooner than a woman aborting over gender. Or may be not. I guess if you were so set on believing you couldn't love a baby girl as much as you would love a baby boy, may be you would give over the abortion much quicker than someone who regretted the baby's health issues. The women I knew who had multiple abortions did so because having a baby was inconvenient for them at the time. The pregnancies were not planned, the men involved were not willing to be involved. They ended their pregnancies blithely and without regret.
I have a friend who "designed" a baby in that she had sex with the smartest man she knew to up the gene pool. This isn't a bad strategy, although life is definitely easier if you love the man in question and sustain a committed relationship. Intelligence, sense of humor, and all kinds of quirks seem to be genetically inherited. Although certainly not ALL children of alcoholics are alcoholics, the percentages got up. You have more of a risk factor of creating an alcoholic if you have kids with one, especially if you carry the gene yourself.
Schizophrenia is another disease with genetic factors. I have a friend who had a child with a crazy woman because he felt "sorry" for her. She convinced him her life would be better if she could only have a child. Now that poor child has a chance of both having Schizophrenia, and of passing on the disease. "She seemed so normal when she took her meds," he lamented. Unfortunately no one could force her to take her meds. She died a homeless woman and was buried in an unmarked grave. For years he and his mother in law had been called to the coroner's office every time an unidentified female body was discovered. It was rough.
About fifteen years ago another case was famous in Hawaii about a family that created a baby long after normal child bearing years for the sole purpose of creating a perfect donor match for their child. Many people were outraged by the sheer ghoulishness factor. I wish the family had kept their very personal decision private. Instead they rather publically defended their actions, asking what parent would not do everything under their control to save their child? Sacrifice another child for body parts in a completely un-King Solomon decision would not have been my first guess.Designer babies are here to stay. As relationships become more callous, basically game shows on TV, it is inevitable that people will reproduce with the smartest, the best looking or the richest mate they can find. Who can blame them?