By Wesley J. Smith
Ruth Marcus has boldly declared that if she were pregnant and discovered her baby had Down syndrome, that child would never see the light of day. From her column:
Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family. I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted. That was not the choice I would have made. You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision.
No question. Ninety percent of Down babies are aborted, while Iceland brags it has a zero Down birthrate.
But this pogrom isn’t happening in a vacuum. Parents of gestating babies diagnosed with Down are pushed toward that decision by societal pressure, genetic counselors, and a disdain in our culture for limitations.
Marcus says she supports women who have the depth of love — my term — to bear a baby with Down. Bully for her. But many don’t. Remember the vituperation of Sarah Palin because she bore Trig? It was truly pernicious.
The ubiquitous aborting of Down babies brings up other eugenics issues. With genetic and other testing becoming increasingly sophisticated — and our understanding of how gene expression more precise — we are close the point where abortion may soon be deployed to eradicate babies that look to be autistic or experience some other “unwanted” characteristic.
This will certainly include aesthetics. Babies that are the “wrong” sex are already being aborted, and soon, perhaps abortion will be available to destroy children that will have a propensity for obesity, a likely skin color or other unwanted racial characteristic, perhaps even, if the later adult would be threatened with early onset cancer or Alzheimer’s.
Marcus sees the eugenics danger with which we are presented — and doesn’t care:
Technological advances in prenatal testing pose difficult moral choices about what, if any, genetic anomaly or defect justifies an abortion. Nearsightedness? Being short? There are creepy, eugenic aspects of the new technology that call for vigorous public debate. But in the end, the Constitution mandates — and a proper understanding of the rights of the individual against those of the state underscores — that these excruciating choices be left to individual women, not to government officials who believe they know best.
At the time of Roe, abortion was advocated for that rare circumstance to protect women in crisis pregnancies such as when they were raped, victims of incest, facing serious health consequences, or in very precarious life circumstances.
It very quickly became much more than that, of course. Now, termination is becoming fashioned into a cudgel of the new eugenics, under which we not only have the right to have a baby — regardless of our life circumstance and the type of assistance required (“gestational carriers”) to obtain our entitlement — but also a right to the baby we want.
We are witnessing what can only be described as a corrosion of unconditional parental love. There will be consequences.
Editor’s note. Wesley’s columns appear on National Review Online and are reposted with his permission.