THE CHILD -- At the Kreeger Theater through May 2, in rotating repertory with "Disability: A Comedy" and "Cold Storage."

Is "The Child," one of the plays in rotation at Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater, in insidious effort by rabid anti-abortionists to trivialize the issue?

There is no question, in Anthony Giardina's play about abortion, of the fetus of the title role having been conceived by rape or incest, or being physically or mentally damaged. This is not a child whose birth will endanger its mother's health, nor one its parents cannot afford to keep. It is not even truly unwanted.Both the mother, a medical student, and the father, a milkman, only seem to be considering abortion out of some vague, perhaps temporary commitment to childlessness, apparently connected to their inexplicable pretentions about their work.

So the question is not whether a woman should have to bear a child against her will, but whether a young, healthy, well-fixed, happily married couple who don't know their own feelings should be able to get an abortion before they have had a change to think things through.

Does society really need more of the kind of people this couple is likely to produce? As we are able to see the unborn child, appearing like an over-grown faun behind a scrim to plead for his existence in the same whiney tones his parents use about themselves, there is a decided temptation to favor this abortion.

Perhaps one should not blame actors for failing to make such roles appealing. Michael Butler and Randy Danson, as the parents, are in keeping with the consistent tone of this production, directed by Douglas C. Wager. Everything from the couple's expensively trendy furniture to the insistent, annoying musical background, suggests spoiled kids whose interest in social issues fails to disguise their reluctance to take responsibility for their own actions -- either the accidental conception or the deliberate abortion.