Hard Cases - Incest / Rape / Congenital Anomalies / Life of Mother

Is There Really Such A Thing As A Wrongful Life?

Consider these real life situations:

His mother was a peasant with a family history of deafness, who had already given birth to one mentally incapacitated child. The father was an alcoholic and was afflicted with syphilis. Should he have been aborted? Then there would have been no Ludwig von Beethoven.

His neck was so weak at birth that it had to be kept in a leather brace for the first five years of his life. His mother lived with the fear that her slightest wrong move could literally break her son’s neck. Should he have been left to die?  Then there would have been no Sir Isaac Newton, who gave us the three laws of motion, grasped the understanding of gravity, and invented calculus.

He turned out to be a dwarf and later a cripple, an object of scorn and derision, a "wrongful birth". Should he have been aborted or left to die? Then, there would be no Alexander Pope, second only to Shakespeare as England’s most quoted poet.

She was afflicted very early in life with deafness and blindness. Yet she became one of the most remarkable public speakers and authors of all time.  Abortion or euthanasia would have deprived our world of the courageous life of Helen Keller.

He had a clubfoot, but he still wrote "Prisoner of Chillon" and fought in the Greek war for independence.  Through abortion or neglect, there  would have been no Lord Byron.

Not all handicapped people can be a Beethoven, an Alexander Pope, or a Helen Keller. In fact, most people born with handicaps are just like everyone else — working to the best of their abilities with the help of family, and trying to live in harmony with those around them.

As R.E.D. Clark pointed out, "Down’s syndrome victims and other persons with very low intelligence are ideally suited for many necessary jobs…they prove reliable and their lives are exceedingly happy…" [Scientific Rationalism and Christian Faith] [article adapted from "No Such Thing As Wrongful Life", Robert Peterson, Celebrate Life, Nov-Dec 1998]