Trisomy 18 - Edward's Syndrome
Three per 1000 newborn babies are diagnosed as suffering from Edward's Syndrome Their average birth weight is 2.34 kilograms. More than 130 abnormalities have been reported in the literature. 50% of these children die within the first week of life and many of the remaining die within the next twelve months. Only 5 to 10% survive the first year as mentally defective individuals. A 30 year old woman has been diagnosed as carrying a trisomy 18 baby; her pregnancy presents no threat to her life. Her attending physician strongly recomends performing a clinical abortion.
May the abortion be performed?
1. Even though the vast majority of these babies die within the first year of life, no one particular baby can be labeled as a treifah. The Rambam (Laws of Murder and Protecting One's Life, Chapter 2, Section 8) rules that the definition of a treifah is such that a particular illness has no known cure and the patient will die from it. R' Eliyshiv's opinion is that even if it is known that any particular baby cannot survive its first year and hence is defined as a treifah, it may yet not be aborted.
2. If the baby has been born and congenital abnormalities have been diagnosed and the only way to ensure its survival is through the application of heroic measures, the parents are nevertheless obligated acording to R' Eliyashiv to request all medical means in order to extend the child's life. If however the treatment itself carries risk for the baby's life, then please see Rapo Yerape, Volume 1, Chapter
This case study should not be applied as a general rule. Instead, cases should be ruled upon individually by a competent halachic authority.