Deciding To Have Children When You Have A Terminal Illness

@Rozie37 (15499)
Turkmenistan
November 2, 2008 10:59pm CST
Do you feel that it is morally right for parents to have children if one or both of them has a terminal illness that the child may inherit? What about if the parent is at risk for getting this disease? I know that most of us have seen talk shows where there is a rare, fatal disease that runs in the family and the offspring are wondering if they will be dealt the same fate. Some of their siblings may have already been diagnosed with it and the ones that haven't are just sitting ducks. They want to live normal lives, but constantly have this fear in the bank of their minds. Would you be angry if a parent did you like that? Do you know of anyone who has experienced this fate? I am just curious.
1 person likes this
9 responses
• United States
3 Nov 08
It's a fine line and a personal decision that most definitely should not be taken lightly. My mother had 3 children before the age of 25. At 25, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer that had spread and had to have a complete hysterectomy in order to save her life. My sister and I have both lead very productive lives and we both have children of our own now. But we have both had abnormal pap smears and have had to undergo cryosurgery to remove cancerous cells. It became a concern for me at the age of 20 because my sister had already started to have problems. I wanted children and knew I wouldn't be able if my fate was the same as my mothers and I waited too long. So, I had my first daughter at 22. I was a single mom. Had I known that my problems wouldn't start until much later, I would have waited. Now my concern is with my 3 daughters. Will the same happen to them? We never know what's gonna happen in life. My opinion is this: If it is an illness where the person can still lead a normal or somewhat normal life and live to see their own children grow up then it shouldn't stop them. However, if the illness is almost always fatal and you will orphan your child before adulthood then I would say no...you shouldn't have children. It's not fair to you or your child. Not to mention, why would you want to hand them the same fate or even run the risk of passing it to them?
2 people like this
@Polly1 (12648)
• United States
3 Nov 08
This is so well said, thanks for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your troubles, I hope that your daughters will not have to face any of this.
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
3 Nov 08
First of all, there are different types of terminal illnesses. Not all are inherited. I don't think many people would have a child if they had cancer and the prognosis was poor. I suppose if there would still be one parent or a grandparent left, it wouldn't always be bad though. Maybe the husband has cancer and the wife always wanted a kid with him, but it's too late. It would be a weird situation, but I think it should be on a personal basis. As far as diseases that are genetic though, personally I would not have a child if I knew I could pass on something like that. I don't get it when families just keep having defective children. Natural selection is never going to get to weed out those people from the population if they keep having children anyway. I don't see what kind of person could even bring a child into the world knowing that they are probably going to have something horrible like Huntington's or something similar. I have a visual processing disorder that is generally believed to be genetic due to the high heritability. I probably wouldn't even want a child to have that and therefore wouldn't have children myself. I'm hoping to either adopt or perhaps my girlfriend will bear our children. But it wouldn't even be an option for me to have children if I could pass along something even worse. At least I know my child could have help if they also had vision problems.
2 people like this
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
3 Nov 08
Very well said, thank you.
@savypat (20245)
• United States
3 Nov 08
In fact I knew people who did this and I always wondered why they would chance putting a child through all that suffering. They have had 3 children, 2 are affected and one is a superior person. I don't know how they feel about what happened I guess the well child might be worth it. I'm glad I didn't have to make that choice.
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
4 Nov 08
This is what I am wondering, how can parents justify having children and taking such a chance with them being born with the odds stacked against them. I want children more than anything in the world and I would never want to have to make such an agonizing choice.
@Polly1 (12648)
• United States
3 Nov 08
Hi Rozie, you have some really good responses here. It all depends on the disease or illness. Lots of us have health issues that run in families, does that keep us from having children, no usually. Now for a terminal illness that your children might or might not get from you, that would be something that you would have to think long and hard about. Thats a tough call to make, but if you knew it would be passed down to your children, then you shouldn't have them. I have read about genetic testing, that will help couples make the decision on whether they have children or not.
1 person likes this
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
4 Nov 08
It is definitely an issue to think long and hard about and it would be nice if more people did. I am not saying that my health is perfect or that there is nothing that I could not pass on to my unborn children, all I am saying is that some people are willing to take very selfish risk, even after they find out the high likely hood for their children inheriting what they have.
• United States
3 Nov 08
It really depends on the disease. I mean, some diseases can be terminal, but if managed well, they can actually live a pretty long time. But, I think if I already had kids that have been diagnosed with the disease, I would probably not consider having anymore, especially if it's a disease where you die very slowly and painfully or you struggle to breathe.
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
3 Nov 08
Yes, there are quite a few diseases that simply aren't worth the risk. Asthma runs in my family and can be a very frightening experience. I do not know whether my mom or dad had it or not. I am not very sure where it came from. Out of three sisters, two of us have it and some of my nieces and nephews also.
@vicki2876 (5640)
• Canada
3 Nov 08
I think it depends on each person to make that choice for themselves. They should weigh the pros and cons to having a baby in their situation and make the choice that is right for them. I am lucky that I am in good health and my three children are healthy. I have learning disabilities and mental illness in the family as well as heart problems and asthma. My sons have inherited the learning challenges. One son has asthma. I inherited heart problems from my father's side. Though these are not terminal, they give me the greatest pleasures of my life. However there once was this show I watched where the boy had some rare illness and was dying. He lived in pain all his life. He didn't want another child to go through that pain. I think that if the child would be in lots of pain I would probably look for adoption rather than see a child suffer. But that is my choice. If someone else is prepared to deal with the illness than I fully support that too.
1 person likes this
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
3 Nov 08
I believe that it can be pretty selfish for parents to bring children into the world when they know that there can be constant suffering for that child. It is a hard decision to make at times though.
@subha12 (18452)
• India
4 Nov 08
i think it is not morally right.in turn they are bringing in world a child who has highest posibility if being terminally ill.it is my personal opinion
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
4 Nov 08
I know that it would be extremely hard for me to watch my child suffer and know just how they feel. Not only that, God forbid that I should outlive that child.
• United States
3 Nov 08
This is probably going to be removed to a different post but I wanted to point this out anyway... I am 25 years old I have an autistic spectrum disorder called Aspergers Syndrome and most recently two weeks ago to be exact I had a colonoscopy the doctor suspected it might be Chron's disorder I know that for most of you finding out that you have a condition that you were either born with or diagnosed with will be with you for the rest of your life is difficult but even more difficult still is disclosing it with the person you love the most and even though I realize now by reading the topic of discussion that the two conditions that I have mentioned aren't even life threatening I still have to deal with them just like everyone else... even if that means being turned down for a possible date or potential marriage 5 - 10 years down the road and all because some people are too arrogant and closed minded to understand the individual for who they are and not what that person expects them to be through perfection
@Rozie37 (15499)
• Turkmenistan
4 Nov 08
I am sorry to hear that you suffer from these disorder. I have heard of them for the most part, but am not an expert on the subject. We all have different things that we wish we could change about ourselves. No one is perfect. The key is loving and accepting yourself for who you are. Once you are alright with you, you will find that others will love you just the way you are.
@twoey68 (13651)
• United States
3 Dec 08
I think any parent who has a terminal illness should sit down and not think about what they want but what is best for a child. My late S-I-L found out she had cancer halfway through her pregnancy with my Nephew. They couldn't treat it at the time b/c she was pregnant. After he was born she did the chemo and such but she didn't even make it to his first birthday. Both my Nephew and my Niece have been carefully watched to make sure they didn't show signs of getting it as well and they know they'll have to keep an eye out for it throughout their lives but it wasn't something that their mom knew about before getting pregnant. If she did, she may not have gotten pregnant with my Nephew. As selfish as it is, I'm glad she didn't know b/c my Nephew is the light in my life and I'd have hated to miss out on him. [b]~~AT PEACE WITHIN~~ **STAND STRONG AND TRUST IN GOD**[/b]