Abortion, Eugenics, and the Line of Life
Janet Kuypers commentary
I looked up the word “eugenics” in the Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.
Eu.gen.ic: relating to or fitted for the production of good offspring.
Eu.gen.ics: the science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of race or breed.
Okay, when I hear the word “eugenics,” I think of Hitler’s groups killing (after torturing, I forgot the torture part) what they deemed as “unfit” people. So when I find more up-to-date definitions, I red:
Eu.gen.ics: the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, esp. by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics). From Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Eu.gen.ics: the study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding. From the American Heritage Dictionary
And Wikipedia will explain that “opponents argue that eugenics is immoral and is based on, or is itself, pseudoscience. Historically, eugenics has been used as a justification for coercive state-sponsored discrimination and human rights violations.” Wikipedia even goes on to explain Nazi eugenics programs working to show the purity of the German race, including sterilizing nearly half of a million people they deemed “unfit.” There are obviously many opponnents to eugenics, considering it an immoral mindset and course of action to destroy some life because some people deem it not worthy of life.
When I hear the word “eugenics,” I think of people randomly making the decision that a life that is not perfect is not a life worth keeping alive. Hence the Nazi experiments that doctors claim were to understand why people have thee defects (though I’m sorry, I can’t see how any of the test they ever did helped them arrive at any positive conclusion about the status and any people who were mentally handicapped). The reason why I wanted to look all of this up was to confirm what I was thinking of when I heard the word “eugenics.”
The reason why is because of an article about British law (as well as American policy) about abortion. The article was by George F. Will, called “Eugenics By Abortion: Is perfection an entitlement?” at the Washington Post (Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A27). Now in America, abortion laws do not have time restraints on when an abortion can be done (see my editorial “When Does Life Begin,” in the v149 issue of cc&d magazineon the web at http://scars.tv/ccdissues/ccd149june05.htm and in the sold out book Chaos Theory, on line at http://www.chaoticarts.org/chaos-theory2005book/chaos-theory.htm); in Britain a woman can have an abortion after the 28th week (the time called “viability,” when it is assumed a fetus can live on its own outside the uterus) only is there is “a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.”
Okay, these are the laws in Britain. Fine. But an example was brought up, where a woman with a fetus in it’s 28th week decided to have an abortion “because new techniques for detecting fetal abnormalities indicated that the child had a cleft lip and palate.”
A cleft lip and palate. That sounds like reason to abort a potential life.
In fact, a 28-year-old woman, born with a congenital defect of the jaw, wanted the court to consider a ruling against practices like this because she leads a normal life and (in this case of the aborted fetus) should not have been aborted. In fact, her brother has Down Syndrome, and that involves varying degrees or retardation, and her brother is able to “enjoy life” as well. The courts refused to listen to this woman’s complaints, and by refusing to do so (because nobody can define what is truly seriously handicapped), their refusal implies “that any abnormality can qualify as a serious handicap because seriousness is determined not by its impact on the disabled person’s life chances but by the parents’ reluctance to be inconvenienced by it.”
Now, while I’m all for having uber-babies, this is a scary thought. And even if a mother doesn’t want to raise that child (you know, because it would be too much of a strain on the mother, I mean, the child), “there is a waiting list of families eager to adopt children with Down syndrome”.
Since this article was based on British law, they state that more fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome “are aborted than are allowed to be born. In America, more than 80 percent of the babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted.” Granted, the American Association of People with Disabilities states that “disability is a natural part of the human experience,” but Darwin future breeders of uber-babies might not want to deal with a less-than-perfect child.
And that starts to get more and more frightening when you think about it. Not that I don’t want uber-babies, but I don’t know how good of an idea it is to decide that a fetus should come to term (and even be adopted by someone else to raise) because it would not be able to function perfectly in a modern society. I mean, this article explains a pregnant woman seeing videos of people with Down Syndrome were lethargic looking, saying the video “then proceeded to tell us that our child would never be able to read, write or count change.” But there are people with Down Syndrome that can function, including one boy cited in the Washington Post article who navigates the Washington subways to watch professional Basketball or Baseball games.
In the past, when children were born just two years after I was (people born in 1972), if they were born with Down Syndrome were born in era where there were television reports that said the children with Down Syndrome couldn’t be toilet-trained. In one case of a child born with Down Syndrome in 1972, the doctors asked the parents of this child if they intended to bring the child home.
What? A doctor asked that of a living child?
Well, things like that wouldn’t happen now, but George Will called this new habit “today’s “respectable” eugenics,” that people actually consider as a viable option during a pregnancy. And the thing is, although science is wonderful that it can predict Spina Bifida or Down Syndrome in a fetus, science may not always have their diagnosis 100% correct. After listening to people talking on a Jerry Agar WLS radio talk show that discussed this topic (stemming form this article), people pointed out that false positives are possible in readouts like this, meaning parents could choose to abort a perfectly healthy future child that was misdiagnosed.
I don’t know what your thoughts are on this subject, but one woman who talked on that same talk radio show even said something to the effect of... Not all people have the right to life for life’s sake.’
So much for that whole notion of being endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, you know, life, liberty, blah blah blah...
I even remember seeing the movie Gattica from I-don’t-know-how-many-years-ago (where Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, they were such a cute Indie couple, why did he have to go cheat on her...) where the notion was repeated throughout the movie that “some people are more equal than others” which in this movie meant that you had the options to go to certain levels of work in life only if your genes were good enough. The movie was based in the future, in a not-real world, and when you watched the movie, you think that this kind of ideology couldn’t actually exist. But when you hear a woman call into a talk radio show (I know they say insane things, but it’s really good entertainment to hear what some people come up with) and say something like not all people have the right to life for life’s sake,’ you wonder if non-reality based movies like Gattica are really that far off from what people want or what people think is right.
Now, you can learn my take on abortion, but I also value life. And I know that from statistics, there are people that are on waiting lists to adopt children that a mother doesn’t think they are capable of raising. So people have to ask themselves where a line should really be drawn on reasons for terminating a potential life.
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