The UK government announced this week a multi-million pound program to make contraception more easily available to young people and to reduce teenage pregnancies...
If they are effective, these measures will prevent the birth of a large number of children whose lives would have been worth living. Is it discriminatory to try to prevent the birth of children to teenage mothers? What message does this send to those children in the community who have been born to teenagers about how we value their lives? ... If we spend millions of pounds to try to prevent the birth of children like them, it might be seen to be expressing an attitude that we do not want them, or that we wish that they were not amongst us.
When we make decisions about which future persons will live – children to teenage parents, or children with disability, the types of objections cited above can be expressed. If we think that such objections are convincing, we should not try to prevent the birth of individuals with disability, nor children to teenage parents. If we think nevertheless that preventing teenage births is ethical, then this may give us some important insights into debates about disability.
Are there relevant differences which undermine the analogy? Disability is a feature of the potential child, whereas in preventing teenage pregnancies our focus is simply on a feature of the mother. (We would not think it desirable for her to become pregnant with any child, no matter its intrinsic features.) So this might be thought to explain why preventing the births of disabled individuals, but not teenage births, risks "sending the message" that the type of child in question is undesirable. What do you think?