In the Globe and Mail, Ian Brown has written about ethical dilemmas with prenatal genetic testing in I’m glad I never had to decide whether my strange, lonely boy ought to exist.
“Would you have taken the test and had an abortion,” I once asked my wife, “if there had been one?” It was his loneliness I couldn’t bear, the boy’s own sad sense of how different he was. Somehow he knew that.
“If there had been a test when I was pregnant that revealed what Walker’s life would have been like, I would have had the abortion.”
“But then you wouldn’t have had Walker,” I said.
Suddenly Johanna began to move around the kitchen a little faster. “You can’t say that after I’ve known Walker – would I have done something to get rid of him? It’s one thing to abort an anonymous fetus. It’s another to murder Walker. A fetus wouldn’t be Walker.”
“What do you think the world would be like without people like Walker?” I asked. It was an obnoxious thing to ask. “Without kids like him, I mean, kids who have real setbacks.” Fetal-DNA testing makes this more and more of a possibility.
I’ll always remember her answer. “A world where there are only masters of the universe would be like Sparta,” she said. “It would not be a kind country. It would be a cruel place.”
By then she was crying.