15 JULY 1995, Page 25

LETTERS Life or death issue

Sir: I would like to redress the balance (All you need is life', 17 June). First, I congratu- late you on the birth of your daughter. I admire the courage and compassion that you and your wife have shown in your posi- tive attitude to disability: courage, because in rejecting ante-natal tests you were pre- pared to accept whatever fate brought; and compassion, because you did accept what fate delivered.

But, although you clearly feel angry about the conduct of the medical profes- sion, I think it is unacceptable to equate NHS ante-natal testing with Nazi-style eugenics: such an exaggeration is a gross insult to the memory of those who really did suffer the consequences of Nazi prac- tices. And in making your assertion, you ignore the essential difference between us and the Nazis, and, indeed, the reason why we fought the second world war — which is freedom of choice.

No doubt 'pro-lifers' would argue that the aborted foetus has no freedom of choice. But then 'pro-lifers' always over- look the fact that the disabled do not exist in a vacuum: the disabled create a perma- nent burden of care. I have a neighbour who had a rubella baby nearly 30 years ago, and I regard the mother as nothing short of a saint for the way she continues to look after her son. Also, having helped for some time with riding for the disabled (RDA), I have seen physically twisted and mentally damaged bits of humanity, and I can well understand why not everyone might be will- ing to make the sacrifice of total care.

Admittedly, Down's syndrome is in no sense an extreme form of disability. With the right support, people with Down's achieve a high level of independence and there is no doubt that they are life- enhancers; I have always found them to be pleasant company.

I do not believe in a society without dis- ability, eugenically pure. But I do believe that every child should be a wanted child and that parents should have the freedom to exercise choice, as indeed you have done. I applaud you for freely choosing to accept your daughter, but you should not condemn those who lack your strength. Lucy Wyatt

The Old Vicarage, Church Lane, Playford, Suffolk