Culture

The 'Brave New World' of Down Syndrome Eugenics

Leftists laud Iceland for killing Down syndrome babies before they're born so as to "prevent suffering."

Brian Mark Weber · Aug. 18, 2017

In the novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, readers are presented with a dystopian vision of the future in which the whole process of conception and birth is delegated to the scientific community. Parents have no emotional connection to their children, and motherhood itself is considered embarrassing and obscene.

The novel, written in 1931, seemed far-fetched at the time. Yet it wasn’t long after Huxley penned his dark and frightening tale that science and politics began to consider the implications, and the possibilities, of playing God with human reproduction in order to bring about desired results.

Columnist David Harsanyi writes, “[‘Negative selection’ eugenics] was the rationalization behind the coerced sterilization of thousands of mentally ill, poor, and minorities here in America. It is why real-life Nazis required doctors to register all newborns born with Down syndrome. And the first humans they gassed were children under three years old with ‘serious hereditary diseases’ like Down syndrome.”

But why wait? Aborting unborn children with Down syndrome is gaining acceptance once again, and the latest wave of news is from Iceland. Yet the child’s suffering or the elimination of a human life doesn’t seem to be part of the conversation, nor does the post-abortion health of the mother.

What’s interesting is that, according to Kevin Burke in the Washington Examiner, “About 80 percent of parents facing the same diagnosis, who were provided with the option of perinatal hospice care for the child and family, chose to carry their disabled child to term.” Apparently, most parents planning to abort their children don’t receive this advice.

Burke adds, “Those who advocate for routine screening to detect fetal disabilities also fail to advise parents of the potential for serious post-abortion reactions. The fallout from this loss can place a tremendous strain on couples as they struggle with the shock and pain that can follow the abortion. Some abortion advocates may concede that some women suffer symptoms of depression and grief immediately after termination of disabled babies, but they see this as a short-term condition. Research, however, confirms that women often suffer symptoms of emotional trauma and complicated grief years after such procedures.”

Sadly, and just like the people in “Brave New World,” Icelanders no longer seem to value human life. Parents who fail to think of their unborn child as human are less likely to keep their child when the options are presented to them.

As Helga Sol Olafsdottir, a counselor at Landspitali University Hospital, helpfully explains, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication … preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”

A thing? If children are considered “things,” then it can’t be long before countries like Iceland start passing their own version of Nazi Germany’s Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.

How far away is it when people like Princeton University professor Elizabeth Harman say, “Some early fetuses will die in early pregnancy due to abortion or miscarriage. And in my view that is a very different kind of entity. That’s something that doesn’t have a future as a person and it doesn’t have moral status.”

While those on the Left may rush to defend a program that frees parents from the burden of raising a disabled child, they should seriously think about the implications of going down this path.

The situation is not much better in the United States, where nearly two-thirds of American women whose prenatal screening tests reveal Down syndrome choose to have an abortion. Fortunately, there’s still some resistance at the political level.

Harsanyi notes, “A number of U.S. states have passed or want to pass laws that would ban abortions sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, or because of the race, sex, or ethnicity of a fetus. Such a U.S. House bill failed in 2012. Most Democrats involved claimed to be against sex-selective abortion, but not one gave a reason why. Probably because once you admit that these theoretical choices equate to real-life consequences, like eugenics, you are conceding that these are lives we’re talking about, not blobs.”

And what if science develops to the point where we can identify other traits in humanity that parents may find undesirable: a genetic heart condition or a low IQ — or, where it would really hit home for leftists, homosexuality? Gender-based abortions of girls are already the norm in Communist China. When society reaches the point where only desirable children are allowed to enter this world, are we still a civilization? And if a free society lacks the moral compass to speak out against this practice, how can we oppose another government that one day might decide that Jews, Africans or Christians are a “problem”?

These are the questions that should be asked before science allows us to discover even more “undesirable” traits in unborn children, and before the political class yields to social and cultural decay. Let’s face it: We’re living in a Brave New World today. But unlike the society in Huxley’s novel, we must summon the courage and decency to end the ghastly practice of eugenics.

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