Is It Moral (Not) to Give a Birth to a Disabled Child During the Epoch of Late Modern?


  • Андрей Тетёркин
Keywords: fetus, prenatal diagnostics, selective abortion, disabled people, late modernity, individualization, moral conflict, parent’s responsibility, evaluation of life quality, good life, happiness, personal identity, personal autonomy, authenticity


[In Russian]

The article deals with the moral dilemma which arises after the prenatal diagnosis of foetus’ «illness» (spina bifida, Down syndrome, trisomy 18, etc.). The author proceeds from the claim that the contemporary life in the late modernity is distinguished by institutional reflexivity and individualization (U. Beck, A. Giddens). In comparison to previous societies we can observe the growth of followers of democratic and postmaterialistic values (freedom, self-realization, tolerance to differences etc.). Accordingly, in popular advice literature the parenthood is recommended to be based only on the logic of gift and the principles of responsibility and love. But the principle of modern parent’s responsibility causes ambivalent consequences. Parents, who make the selective abortion, justify the choice, also saying about responsibility and love to their unborn child (E. Beck-Gernsheim). It means that contemporary parenthood is defined as practice to make possible a definite form of life: a new autonomous person who is able to reach her/his own goals and to estimate her/his own existence as good or happy. In this situation it’s morally justified to evaluate the quality of future life and to consider the ethical dilemma after the positive prenatal diagnosis as the articulation of a moral conflict between different democratic values (M. Quante). In the article it is argued that in the epoch of late modernity happiness (eudemonia) is linked not with health, but with the formation of personal identity and with personal autonomy. Therefore the life of disabled (different-abled) people can be good, but it depends on facilitating environment. That is why the opposite choices (to save baby/to terminate pregnancy) could be sometimes assessed as morally legitimate. 


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How to Cite
Тетёркин, А. (2015). Is It Moral (Not) to Give a Birth to a Disabled Child During the Epoch of Late Modern?. Topos, (2-3), 69-107. Retrieved from