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Abort Down Syndrome Baby?

Abort Down Syndrome Baby?

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Question:

I just found out my unborn baby will have Down syndrome. We already have our hands full our other kids. What will happen to the baby's soul if we abort it? Are we wrong for not wanting a child who is not perfect?

Response:

You ask whether it's wrong to want only a perfect child. As much as I love them all, I can't say that any child of mine is perfect. We have been blessed, thank G‑d, with many children, and each comes packaged with his or her challenges. I call them challenges because they have very much challenged the patience, endurance and wisdom of both my wife and I. And as is always the case with challenges, we have gained and grown from all of them.

We believe that G‑d never sends us a challenge we cannot take on, that all these challenges are meant only to take us higher and further than we could achieve without them, and that with each challenge He provides the strength we need to overcome it. You are being presented with a particularly special challenge—which means that the two of you must have special abilities that others do not.

You ask about the soul of this child. Before this child was conceived, her soul stood in the lofty place of souls above, higher than the angels, basking in serene, spiritual ecstasy beyond any pleasure we could imagine in this material world. Why did she choose to leave that paradise to descend to a physical body in a world full of pain and confusion? What could she accomplish here?

Since this will be the soul of a child who will need special care and who will know the world differently than others, she has a special mission. She is chosen to ignite the kindness that lies dormant in people's souls and plant the seeds of empathy in their hearts; to teach caring, patience and tolerance in a way no other teacher could. She will enter the world armed with lessons and tests for all who will come to know her—and she will leave it a much kinder world, a world blossoming with compassion, a world where people can feel for one another and put aside their own concerns and comfort to run to help. She will leave behind a touch of the heaven from whence she came.

So this soul chose gladly to descend to this place, because she desired to touch the essence of truth and beauty, to reach the head of the river from which all pleasures come. And that can only be found here on earth.

One more note, just a subtlety in your words: Sometimes we know the truth, but we hide from it. And the easiest place to hide is behind our own words.

You are doing this when you ask, "What will happen to the baby's soul if we decide to abort it?" But a soul is not aborted. A pregnancy is aborted, because it is a process, much as the process of building a car or a house can be aborted. But a life is not aborted; we don't abort a soul or a baby. Someone decides that this child will not live. There is another term for that, but I cannot get myself to use it. Perhaps I too am hiding behind my words.

Let me only say that you have been blessed to give life, much life, unlike many women who cry their whole lives for children and are not answered. Life is not our business; we don't choose what life shall be put in our care, when it will happen and how it should turn out. To give life is the greatest privilege bestowed upon us from Above. Leave G‑d to His plans and take His blessings as they come. Trust Him that He knows what is best for each soul He has made, for His world that He conducts and for you and your husband as well. Yes, it will be hard—as all the good things of life are hard. Keep giving life, and you will only grow.

As your doctor can confirm, these tests do not claim 100% accuracy. I know of a case where a woman was told the baby she was carrying would have Down syndrome, and the baby was born perfectly normal. You can still pray for the health of your child and ask others to pray along with you. In particular, you should write a letter to be read at the gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as is customary for Jews to ask for a tzadik—including one who has passed on--to pray on their behalf. Many have done this and experienced great miracles. Find information on that on our ohel page.

Please write back to me and we can discuss this further. With your permission, I would like to forward your letter to one or two parents of Down syndrome children that I know personally and will have much advice to share. Also, check if there is a Friendship Circle in your community, and discuss the matter with the people there.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (170)
June 29, 2014
Not surprisingly "Anonymous" didn't use her real name as her note is perhaps the most outlandish post I've ever read about people with Downs Syndrome.
Frank Vespe
chabadofeastend.com
June 19, 2014
Abort
The child is unborn and it is just a body. I would abort so it's soul could escape that fate and enter another more healthy body. I feel that the quality of life for everyone involved including the child is diminished when the child isn't given every opportunity including health.
I have a family member with down syndrome and he has been a drain on everyone his entire life.
I am also pro choice and have had an abortion so I do understand what it is like. It really isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It's your life not theirs. You shouldn't feel forced into feeling bad when you and only you know what is best for you and the child.
Anonymous
Salt Lake City
March 23, 2014
What kind of society are we? One who cares not for the child after it is born, or the person who has to take care of this child who eventually grows up. Unless one is a martyr-- then give your life of 24 hours a day caring for someone.... I visited a nursing home a few years ago and when I was about to leave, blocking the doorway, on the floor, was an adult Down syndrome man. I felt so sorry for him, in that he had probably outlived his parents. So easy to choose for somebody else what their life will be.
Elaine Thompson
March 20, 2014
for me it would be so simple, human beings must have this 2 characteristics:

1.-be able to have a meaningful adult life
2.-be capable to live independently in adulthood

without those characteristics it's redoubtably that he would bring something good to his society, because we live in society, and raising a child should be also for the good of the family and the society

disabilities should be prevented as well as tolerated, should a woman be considered a monster if she aborts a child with problems she wouldn't be capable to help with because of some situation like poverty or a disability of herself?, what kind of society we live in?
jorge alberto nuñez cuevas
November 10, 2011
None of us knows the person who asked.
We actually do not have a right to give an opinion for this particular person. There is heartbreak involved in BOTH decisions for different reasons. I am sorry for all of us, you and me, who have had to go through this. It's almost like, "Please, G-d, no more pain, suffering, or impossible choices! Enough already!"
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
November 10, 2011
Down Syndrome
If you have your personal Rabbi whom you trust to respond to questions of a serious or grave nature, and the Rabbi knows you and your family and your unique situation, ask him to give you a breakdown of all the pros and cons and then ask him for his personal advice to you and stick with it
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY/ USA
July 31, 2011
Victoria, please.
You are not a murderer for having had an abortion. You didn't say what was your situation, but please realize how coming out and making a blank statement such as that will affect people who have been through very traumatic circumstances and have had to have an abortion for whatever reason. There is nothing wrong with you, and you don't need to feel guilty. To put guilt on a reader is harsh. I had an abortion when a teenager, and it was a forced, illegal one. I was beaten into silence. I, also, felt that it was murder and it took YEARS of therapy to get me out of that mindset. Now, to hear someone say "Abortion is murder" really, really causes me grief again. I've just now been able to come to terms with it in my life with a balanced approach. Halacha law and a Jewish Rabbinical opinion just probably will say "no" to abortion for frivolous reasons, falling short of calling it murder. No broad answer. Specific to the person and occasion.
Anonymous
Riverside, CA
July 30, 2011
its a child
Abortion is murder. I had one and it's true. No offense but the nazis murder people with dds too. Please reconsider for your own sake.
Victoria McKee
Boise, Idaho
February 6, 2011
In the 99 cent store is a bag with a saying.
On the bag it says, "LOVE CONQUERS ALL". Enough said.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
January 31, 2011
choices
We were given all options to explore...We didnt want to abort a child for any reason, but you DO have to at least look at all options on the table......Now i feel guilty for even doing THAT......I love both my boys with such a strong unconditional love , that i cant begin to describe it...When we forst found out fromthe amnio + sonagrams that one boy hadf dow's we were in shock.....But we've since come to the conclusion that we werent thinking of our child as a human being but an OBJECT...And we were peojecting our own selfish needs and want upon this unbord soul.....Once he and his brother were born, we quickly discovered that he had his own agenda and personality!!! He wasnt a source of heartache and pity at all!!!
We are working class jews..Im retitring from law enforcement with spine injuries and my wife is a C.N.A..the biggest thing needed is LOVE.....THATS IT.
YOUR TIME AND LOVE..COURAGE TO FACE THE UNKNOWN..... TAKE A DEEP BREATH,SWALLOW, SAY A PRAYER TO G-D, AND DRIVE ON
Brian Cooper
meriden, ct
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