Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Truth Stranger Than Science Fiction, Sadly

Today I read Amy Welborn's post on a woman who aborted a child because it would have a cleft palate.

Years ago, in her masterful Miles Vorkosigan novella "The Mountains of Mourning", Lois McMaster Bujold presented the full horror of Barrayar's backward infanticide practices with the story of a baby killed for having the even now-correctable maladies of "the cat's mouth" -- a harelip -- and a cleft palate. The child was killed by a relative because the mother couldn't get to the hospital fast enough for the child's operation.

Barrayar was a harsh planet finally able to feed all its people. Miles asked himself, "When will they learn they don't have to kill their children anymore?" In a prosperous first world country with free socialized medical care, apparently they never did learn it. He keenly felt the dishonor of his people in the eyes of the civilized galaxy. But an oh-so-civilized English doctor didn't.

God help us all.


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