When Is Abortion Merciful?

Emily Rapp, a mother whose two-year-old son with Tay-Sachs is dying slowly and painfully in front of her eyes, shares her anguish:

I'm so grateful that Ronan is my child. I also wish he'd never been born; no person should suffer in this way—daily seizures, blindness, lack of movement, inability to swallow, a devastated brain—with no hope for a cure. Both of these statements are categorically true; neither one is mutually exclusive.

Bonnie Rochman, who wrote about Rapp last year, draws a distinction:

For sure, there is a huge difference between aborting a child who has no chance of survival and a dreadful quality of life in his shortened months on earth and a child with Down syndrome, who — depending on his abilities — can learn to read, to ride a bike, to live alone. Children with Down syndrome born today live, on average, until the age of 60; children with Tay-Sachs don’t reach kindergarten. Even if they lived that long, they are fundamentally brain-damaged, incapable of practicing their ABCs or coloring in the lines. Is ending one type of pregnancy wrong and another right?

To read more than a dozen stories of expecting parents facing horrific diagnoses and the prospect of late-term abortion, see the Dish's "It's So Personal" series.