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Dispatch: 23 January 2017
Handle With Care/Picoult, Jodi/Paper/1742373437/S023-G
Allen & Unwin
Jodi Picoult's new bestseller explores the moral dilemmas faced by the parents of a severely disabled child. When faced with the reality of a child who will be disabled, at which point should an obstetrician counsel termination? Should a parent have the right to make that choice? And as a parent, how far would you go to take care of someone you love?
Willow O'Keefe is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, which means she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, and a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to cover medical expenses, her mother Charlotte decides to file a wrongful birth lawsuit against her obstetrician for the compensation which might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow.
But it means that Charlotte has to say in a court of law that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she'd known about the disability in advance. And the obstetrician she's suing isn't just her physician - she's her best friend.
Handle with Care is an absorbing narrative which also questions the basis of medical ethics and of personal morality. What rights do parents or doctors have to terminate a life? How disabled is too disabled? As a parent, how far would you go to save someone you love.