All of us, when we are assisted by a doctor, expect professionalism and competence. It is normal because we entrust him or her with something very precious: our health.
And I think we can all agree that a good doctor is the one who recognizes a disease and implements the most suitable treatment to combat it. But what if I told you that a good doctor, today, is also one who recognizes an illness in a timely manner so as to be able to get rid of the sufferer as soon as possible? What would you think? Maybe I'm crazy. And instead, unfortunately, I'm just describing the reality.
I'm referring to prenatal diagnosis.
Being a mom, I know what happens inside clinics when you're expecting a child. At the beginning of all my pregnancies I was offered the prenatal diagnosis. Every time I responded calmly that I would only be interested if there was no risk for the baby and if there was some possibility of treatment for any illness they might discover.
Then, I specified that I would only do it, eventually, only to be ready for receiving a life with special needs.
Well, I've always been told that, because of the kind of malformations found with those examinations, there is no cure and that "if a woman thinks to keep the baby anyway, it doesn't make sense to spend hundreds of euros" (let's say it bluntly: therefore, exploiting health care resources that could be used by other women, with other intentions...).
But above all, if you are willing to keep a child whatever the circumstance, it makes no sense to risk losing the child while ascertaining if it is healthy (because yes, until two years ago, examinations were invasive and, in very rare cases, could cause abortions!)
I mean, given my well known position in favor of all life, I've always been advised against it.
The prenatal diagnosis "is useful" if you want a healthy child at all costs.
However, our culture is making us used to an increasingly partial respect for life, and many couples choose to have these examinations done. ("Yes, they're very expensive... but they make you understand everything, even if it's something like Down Syndrome. It's worth spending it...", said one of the contractors who came to some work in my house a few months ago, expecting a second child).
Yes, it is worth, according to that mentality, spending 600, 800, 1,200 euros to ensure that the child is healthy and if not, reject it.
As if health and sickness, life and death were things that we have control over, as if we human beings were not fragile and could not get sick or die at any other time, even if we were born healthy...
When eugenics seems to be almost a given.
In this article by ANSA , you can read about the outrage toward a gynecologist who was unable to recognize the malformations of a baby in the womb.
Behind these few lines you may notice a very widespread and shared point of view –a way of framing the problem – which suggests just that: the doctor has the duty to see certain problems, not so much so that something can be done for the child, but because it is taken for granted that, in such cases it is highly recommended to have an abortion.
Probably, the mentioned doctor, who had failed to diagnosis the Down Syndrome, could have, should have done the diagnosis right, especially if we have in mind the studies that he has done and with the tools that are available today. It is not my intention to absolve him medically if it really was incompetence.
But the article implies that it’s all the doctor’s fault that the child was born this way. After all, who accepts imperfection anymore?
And then, you can understand why there was such a fuss made about it, even if it was not him who caused the damage, even if no one could have intervened to help the child. It’s understandable why there is so much anger towards the doctor, in the face of an inescapable event.
Because a parent has the right to refuse an unhealthy child.
The real reason for the scandal - so obvious, that it doesn't even deserve to be specified - is that the parents – knowing it beforehand – could have had recourse to "therapeutic abortion" like all the other parents in their country (which I still don't understand why it is defined like that, since a therapy cures, while abortion doesn't...).
Undoubtedly, as the article says, facing such a trial at the time of childbirth is, no doubt, a blow for a parent. And this is why I have always been open to finding out the truth before birth (whenever this finding out is riskless for the life of the child), but this is not of interest to the health care system which aims at "practicality."
In short, parents had to know beforehand - not to prepare themselves (since that doesn't count), but to decide what to do with that life.
If the greatest outrage is created by this culture of death...
What is striking, however (or at least affecting me), is that nothing is said about treatment. They don't say that even if they found out before, there was nothing to do! That that baby would have been like that, with or without the correct diagnosis months earlier. That doesn't seem to matter. You just have to find a culprit, because that kid wasn't supposed to be there.
The idea that life is life does not seem to be contemplated, and can be accepted, always, no matter the circumstances.
No, that baby is just a problem: because once it is born, you can no longer "suppress" it.
And would you perhaps like to buy a crumpled shoe? A bike with broken pedals, a vest without buttons? No, of course not. Then why should you be forced - by the inefficiency of a doctor - to accept an unhealthy child?
Reporting him (Blaming the doctor for the mistake?) is a bit like saying, "I'm entitled to a healthy child and you, doctor, spared me this scam." As if the doctor was a salesman, who has to insure a product in excellent condition.
This doctor has caused many to be outraged. But, to be honest, I feel more outraged when I think that no one has said a word of compassion about this fragile life, marked by the mystery of evil, that doesn't allow that life to be understood as just a child, no matter how he presents himself. He is a miracle, a prodigy... a human being!
A human being, who, like each of us - until his last breath - deserves respect and care.
What can we learn instead?
Perhaps, medical mistakes like these open our eyes, shake us, remind us that life is not in our hands. That child, being born like that, reminds us that he was himself before being born and after being born.
It reminds us that it's not enough to spend 600, 800, 1,200 to ensure an easy life. Because we're fragile and fallible. And only when we learn to love the other in his fragility - instead of wanting to eliminate it at all costs - only then will we be truly strong, only then will we have "secured" the only thing that really matters.