Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Colorado mental-health counselor charged with murdering infant son - The Denver Post

Colorado mental-health counselor charged with murdering infant son - The Denver Post

Police: Autism was motive in Colo. child's killing

BOULDER, Colo. — Police say a woman accused of killing her infant son did it because she believed the boy was autistic and thought his condition would "ruin" her life.
Stephanie Rochester, 34, was charged Monday with murder in the June 1 suffocation death of her 6-month-old son, Rylan. According to an affidavit seeking her arrest, Rochester wanted to commit suicide but didn't want to "burden her husband" with the potentially autistic boy.
What can be said about this? It is troubling; I can already imagine various responses:
  • Eventually, a genetic screen would help prevent this. (or…)
  • This is why screening would be dangerous.
  • Some people think autism is worse than death.
  • This woman must be mentally ill.
  • And so on, and so on…
I think this woman was simply a self-absorbed, immature, malignant narcissist. If she had committed suicide, I'd not assume the same level of narcissism -- but clearly she didn't want to sacrifice anything impinging on her "fun" in the end. That's disturbing. This woman would have felt the same way with a "normal" child over time. Children are always an effort and demand personal sacrifices of their parents.

As for the autism angle, I've read to many news reports like this. It's not always an infant, either.

The argument of would a screening been "better" than murder is a debate I can't engage. Down Syndrome is the parallel. Given a choice, clearly parents have overwhelmingly opted to terminate pregnancies. That does concern me. I have no easy answer.

This story, however, is plain and simple murder of a child. I know some "noted ethicists" (Peter Singer) have argued early infanticide is somehow different. No, it's murder.

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