By Dave Andrusko
In light of an extremely troubling August 14 CBS News report documenting that virtually 100% of all babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome in Iceland are aborted, I wondered how long it would take for the usual suspects to blast proponents of Ohio’s S.B. 164, the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act.
As it turned out, about three days.
First, a few words of background.
A week ago today, according to Ohio Right to Life, “Parent advocates, medical professionals and others joined Ohio Right to Life with supporting testimony in favor of this important legislation in front of the Senate Health, Human Services, and Medicaid Committee.” In addition to Jessica Koehler of Ohio Right to Life, “four parent advocates testified on behalf of this legislation, along with two medical professionals, Dr. Dennis Sullivan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at Cedarville University, and Kelly Kuhns, RN, BSN, a labor and delivery nurse.”
So what would S.B. 164 do? Pure and simple it “seeks to prohibit abortions that are committed for the sole reason of a Down syndrome diagnosis.”
So what is a good “there never is a bad reason to abort” feminist to say? How about “Anti-Abortion Activists Are Using Down Syndrome Parents to Argue Against Women’s Rights”?
Writing for Slate.com, Christina Cauterucci’s opening paragraphs are semi-coherent and make an ever-so-slight nod in the direction of fairness.
For example, “Advocates contend that a society that encourages women to terminate fetuses with Down syndrome is one that ascribes less value to a child with Down syndrome, which leads to discrimination against people living with the condition.” Ah, yes.
In the next sentence, however, Cauterucci is off to the races. “In the U.S., anti-abortion leaders are hijacking this rhetoric of the disability rights movement to argue against women’s rights to choose their own future for their families and bodies.”
“Hijacking”? How so? If babies are “terminated” precisely because of the prospect that they will be born with a disability, is that not a perfectly unambiguous example of lethal discrimination on the basis of disability? What am I missing here?
What I’m missing, of course, is the pro-abortion feminist’s response to any proposal to extend any legal protection to any category of unborn babies: it doesn’t matter. All that counts is (as Cauterucci reminds her readers), “For abortion-rights advocates, there’s no acceptable reason to deny a woman the right to bodily autonomy.”
Over the years I’ve often wondered how far pro-abortionists would extend that logic. For the “there’s no acceptable reason” crowd, that means abortion up until birth. For some, beyond birth.
After all what exactly is “bodily autonomy”? Surely a woman’s bodily autonomy is “compromised” by the existence of a one-month-old, especially one with colic or worse. This hard-hearted line of argument often bisects nonsense about “personhood” which turns out to mean (to the likes of Peter Singer) the requirement of qualities no little one can possess such as self-awareness.
Let me finish by addressing a comment Cauterucci makes which she no doubt thinks is a real zinger. She quotes a pro-lifer who made the unassailable point in a Washington Post op-ed that overwhelmingly people with Down syndrome and their families are happy and then tells us
Reducing the life purpose of a person with Down syndrome to a learning opportunity for her siblings is just as damaging as assuming that people living with Down are “suffering,” as the Icelandic doctor put it.
Of course (as Cauterucci knows perfectly well), that wasn’t the point at all. It was cited to rebut the ignorant notion that siblings (in particular) wish they didn’t have a brother or sister with Down syndrome, not to turn the individual’s existence into a life-long “learning opportunity” for others.
It is a waste of time to try to explain to those as self-centered and as heartless as Cauterucci is that maturity begins with an acknowledgement that we are interdependent and that it is a great privilege to be there for those who need our love and affection.
Finally what in the world can you say to something who actually believes
There is no inherent moral good in increasing the number of people with a given genetic condition, just as there is no inherent moral good in eliminating that condition from the population.
Doesn’t she have an editor? These children have a genetic anomaly. It’s not as though some deranged scientist is placing chemicals in the water system, “increasing the number of people with a given genetic condition” (Down syndrome).
The question, rather, is do you kill the child because she has an extra chromosome?
Tomorrow I will revisit this topic, specifically CBS News’s disturbing report on Iceland—“What kind of society do you want to live in?: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing.”