What I did not anticipate in making the decision to carry a sick baby to term was the anger that it would provoke in others. I discovered that we live in a society in which the decision not to abort an abnormal fetus requires a defense.
A colleague asked me, what if, against all the odds, this baby lives but is severely mentally and physically handicapped? It could ruin your career. You owe it, she said, to your other children and to yourself to exercise your right to choose. A friend told me that, surely, it is morally wrong to bring suffering into the world when you know you can prevent it.
I thought about these arguments. Most of all, I thought about what it means to have freedom of choice. I was raised in a culture that told me unlimited freedom of choice is central to what it means to be human. But this is not how life happens.
So many of the most important things in our lives, we do not choose. I didn’t choose my own parents. I didn’t choose the characteristics of my older daughters, Hannah and Emilia. And I didn’t choose to conceive a sick child. I didn’t choose the dreadful dilemma of whether or not to keep Cerian alive, to care for her when I knew I would lose her.