The problem with abortion when the baby is severely handicapped

In my country, Poland, the Constitutional Court has condemned lately the abortion when the child is presumed to be severely handicapped and is in danger of death. Earlier it was one of the situations (others being when life of a pregnant woman is endangered or the baby was conceived because of rape) when abortion was still accepted. A lot of people in Poland are protesting against the new ban, which I think is moral. I find the popular pro-abortion argument: “women should be allowed to decide what they want to do with their body” to be selfish and ignorant, because fetus is a distinct being and moms can’t just treat their children like slaves that do not have any free will. It’s not the motherly love. But there is another thing that bothers me: “What if the child, after being born, will die after a short time? What if the children is born with brain or heart outside of their body (or with even worse mutations) and they suffer greatly until they die?” I can’t even imagine how these babies must feel. And the next problem is: “What about the trauma that mom experiences, whe she sees the pain of her child?”. I haven’t experienced something like that but it must be something terrible!
My take on this subject is: For Christians, it’s more valuable to give birth to a handicapped child. You can baptise them, so they will surely go to Heaven. I’m not saying that non-baptized children go to hell, but we aren’t sure. So it is then a justified choice to give birth. But from atheistic perspective it’s not worth it. It is just extending their pain.
My second thought is: It is better to give birth to a child because even though they will experience pain, they might also experience love from their parents. In my opinion a life full of pain and the same amount of love is more valuable than a life without pain and love. But I’m not sure if a baby can feel their mother’s love. And it would be extremely hard to hug and kiss a children that is mutated to a point where they no longer resemble a human.
Also, when answering something related to motherhood, it is worth to look at the Greatest Mother - Mary. She witnessed her Son’s Road of the Cross. She probably knew that He’s going to suffer greatly when dying on the cross. And yet…she didn’t take a spear from a random soldier so she could shorten her Son’s torment. She instead stayed by Him. She was with Him until His last breath. I think it’s showing us that a true mother doesn’t necessarily shorten the pain of her child but she’s supporting them in harder times. Even if the only support they can give is standing by them.
What is your take on this subject? How would you answer to these problems?

How do “they” know these babies are in pain.
And if they are, what’s stopping “them” from giving pain meds, just like you would to any other patient?


Well, you brought up the most important point - baptism, along with other good ones.

But there’s a lot we don’t know:

We don’t fully know what happens to unbaptized babies, for starters. EDIT: we may not beleive they get to heaven, but we don’t know beyond that.

We don’t know what the child experiences after death. I for one would gladly go through a couple more days of pain if I knew it would save my parents soul, even if I could not get to heaven myself. This argument is likely not what your looking for, because it supposes that abortion excludes you from heaven, which is only true if abortion is a sin, so most atheist’s will not be swayed by it, as they don’t believe that to start with.

We also don’t know if the child will get the chance to be baptized or not. This link states that a nurse can baptize the baby, even against the parent’s wishes, so that the child can go to heaven. Again, not going to persuade athiestic parents to bring their child to term, but provides some comfort to me that maybe children got baptized in their final moments, even if the parents were unaware. I think the link is a credible source.

We also don’t know how long, or how good a life the child will get. This is the strongest point. Many, many babies that were not supposed to survive have done just that. I saw an article about a baby born with no skull. Some go on to live long lives. They may have pain of any kind (physical, emotional), but who doesn’t? They get to experience love, and that’s something. Some go on to do incredible things, and their lives are not pointless, nor is anyones. There’s just no way of knowing for sure that a baby won’t make it. Whatever doctors say to the parents to not get their hopes up, miracle babies are miracle babies.

There’s just too much we don’t know.

Sorry if these arguments are pretty useless against most atheists. This is just one of those topics where what we are called to do just doesn’t have a worldly explanation we can understand. If a child is really only going to live for a couple minutes, than the only reason to let them live is a moral one, but that reason should be enough :slightly_smiling_face: I really don’t care if someone disagrees with me on that.

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First, you need to understand that non Catholics do not view suffering as a “good” in any way. To them, it’s torture. You will not be able to get them to understand redemptive suffering as it’s mostly a catholic view.

Because they consider suffering as torture and not redemptive, their view will always be different from yours. Pain in newborns is very apparent. Besides pitiful crying, they also tremble…but, they are now given pain medications to ease their sufferings. To a non Catholic, that becomes a “what’s the point” type view.

I don’t know that there is any resolution of this dilemma. The recent law passed in Poland is a Catholic position placed on all of your society…which is predominately Catholic. So, I suppose the government is going with the majority view. Non Catholics that wish to abort in these circumstances will go elsewhere to get one and as a Catholic, all you can do is explain your position. Just don’t expect them to agree with it.

What a thought provoking picture you have painted…

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It’s a sensitive subject.

I almost appreciate baby-steps being made. Allow local jurisdictions to decide laws, no government funding and so on.

If one wants too much, one might lose it all as in the US.

You can ask, is it OK to kill a two-year old if he or she becomes severely disabled after birth and is in danger of death? If they say no, then ask why is it not OK to kill a two-year old but is OK to kill a baby in the womb. And then you have dialog.


There are talks on this on formed if you gave it (given forum). Apparently the babies respond so well to skin to skin with their mother they often don’t need pain medication (if stopping crying and whimpering is an indication of a lack of pain) and many babies live longer than thought and the parents (not just the mother) can bond with them and photograph them and their siblings can meet them. I know maybe that sounds silly but they become part of the family so they can be properly mourned as well as loved. No one can tell you the baby’s experience but often they become calm and quiet and die in their mothers arms. A mother has the lack of guilt knowing she did all she could for her child held him/her knew them, bathed them, dressed them, cuddled them etc. That’s invaluable for grieving. I’d guess dying during abortion is a very stressful experience for a baby but that’s just a guess…dying in the arms of someone who loves you has got to be better. I am sure both ways the baby has pain if he/she is deformed


Being ripped apart during an abortion is painful, too. Unborn babies can feel pain. I agree with what you’re saying. No baby should be aborted, even the ones who are severely handicapped. I don’t know how other people feel but when my daughter was diagnosed in utero with having spina bifida and hydrocephalus, I felt honored that God would trust me with one of His special babies. If she took 2 breaths and died, I wanted to hold her for those 2 breaths. She’s 22 now. She’s had several surgeries and lives in constant pain but every day she thanks God for another day. I’ve learned so much about myself, God and humanity because of her. I wouldn’t trade being her mother for anything in the world. I’m sorry other woman don’t see it that way. They’re missing out on a huge opportunity for spiritual growth, humility, and all the other virtues (sometimes all in the same day!) :slight_smile:


That’s what I think too. Pain management in newborns has made huge progress in the past decades, and dying in one’s parents’ arms, who do everything they can to make one feel loved, surrounded with medical staff trying to keep one comfortable, certainly is better in my book than being ripped apart alive.

There is at the very least plenty of data that shows that being deprived of affection in early infancy leads to developmental issues, so I guess the answer is “yes, they can”.


I’m so proud of my Polish “family” for standing up against abortion. Many years ago I worked in the new NICU of our local hospital and there were 3 babies that I would rock and cuddle. These babies were born healthy but had been abandoned by their mothers. When my shift was over, another nurse would take over. These babies did not do well, had a problem gaining weight. The doctors called it “failure to thrive”. There was no physical reason for this failure to thrive, so what could be the reason? They were cuddled and rocked by nurses. But those babies had heard their mother’s voice for 9 months and knew she wasn’t there. I think all they needed was their mother’s love to thrive. So yes, they can feel the love of their mother whether they are healthy or disabled. And doesn’t love make everything better?


I’m just here to agree with those who say the baby has a better life dying cuddled next to mom vs being stabbed before birth. Isn’t this intuitive? I think folks just don’t like to SEE suffering. It makes them uncomfortable. So better for baby to be brutally shredded in uterine than that I have to be made uncomfortable by experiencing baby’s pain and feeling helpless to take it away. We’ve lost sight of the value of just loving people while they hurt. Not a religious value, mind you - the emotional, social, & spiritual value.


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