Down Syndrome is disappearing in Europe. In Iceland, it is almost extinct. Very quietly, the most successful eugenics program in human history is advancing and making its way to the United Sates. How is this happening? It’s very simple. Prenatal testing is identifying pregnancies that are likely to result in Down Syndrome kids, and those pregnancies are being aborted, with shocking frequency.
On its own the abortion issue divides us. Whether a baby in the womb may be killed is a debate we struggle to have in constructive ways. But generally the pro-choice movement assures us that abortion is used in cases where any child is unwanted. In the case of selective abortion for sex or disability, a child is wanted, just not the messed-up child his parents weren’t hoping for.
What an age to live in. Get pregnant; see if the baby meets your specifications. If not, just abort and try again. Eventually you are sure to wind up with the bright boy exactly six feet tall who wins all the prizes and marries the prom queen. After all, having a child isn’t really about the child. It’s about you and your hopes and dreams, your demand to live your best life.
Did You Deserve To Be Born?
The choice to have a child, whether the result of grave deliberation or a drunken night of debauchery, is the most harrowing choice a person can make. The hospital hands you this useless bundle of cuteness and says, “Okay, good luck, you’ll figure it out.” Miraculously, for the most part people do figure it out. And there are rewards. The smiles, the snuggling, the little boy or girl climbing into your bed just to be near you because you are everything — it’s profound and beautiful.
No decent parent rejects a child’s love because the child is imperfect. Nobody casts aside an eight-year-old because she has bad grades or an attitude problem. So why would we think it is acceptable to destroy the life of a child, the result of a wanted pregnancy, because the child will be disabled? As the progressives put it, isn’t this the most horrible example of ableist privilege?
If we are going down the road of selective abortion for admirable traits, one has to wonder if oneself would make the cut. Am I, or my brother, the best product of my parents’ DNA that could have been created? I like to think so, but it’s unlikely. For all of my wit and humor and great hair, I imagine my parents could have held out for a better version of me. Perhaps they could have gotten a son who doesn’t smoke, drinks less, has more children, or graduated college.
Why settle? Not only can we abort the disabled, we can now program genes to make superbabies who are better than us, genetically designed to move humanity forward. Don’t you like progress? Sure, only in developed countries will this be possible. The third world will keep sputtering out their inferior human stock, but we will rule them with our chosen superior stock. The brilliant babies who will rule the world will spring fully developed in Park Slope hospitals to take us to the next age of enlightenment.
Are You Feeling Uneasy Yet?
I asked a friend who has a child with Down Syndrome if the aborting of these kids makes him uneasy. He said that was an understantement. In large part, it’s because the selective abortion of kids with Down Syndrome sends a clear and destructive message to kids and adults with Down Syndrome. That message is, “We are better off without you.” We are literally telling human beings that they should not exist, that they are too much of a burden on parents and society. That idea is, in a word, evil.
Evil doesn’t come with a dark cape and a menacing cackle, it comes with a quiet acquiescence to our powerlessness to do anything but serve our own pleasure and desire. We can give in to that. We can say “It’s too much for me. I can’t handle a kid who is such a burden.” Even when a perfectly healthy 10-year-old has an accident and becomes paralyzed, a parent can say “I can’t handle this,” and abandon her child. But surely that is no decision to celebrate — or is it?
Maybe prospective parents should believe and accept that a Down Syndrome child is a bridge too far, a responsibility that is unfair and should be abandoned. But here’s the thing on that. People with Down Syndrome are not a burden on society. They don’t stand in the way of some perfect population that will end all human suffering and blah, blah, blah. Frankly, a lot of Down Syndrome people are better than a lot of other people are. And the idea that they shouldn’t exist is chilling and horrifying.
The dignity of human life is a fragile element of any state. It has always existed on a knife edge. A slave is just a slave, so what matter is it if they die? A slave is inferior, like a person with Down Syndrome. Why should those of us with higher intelligence (whatever that means) have to foot the bill for them? What good are they? Why should they have a right to exist?
A brave new world is opening up to us. We can decide and manipulate the traits of our children. No surprises, just perfect kids with perfect smiles and perfect outcomes. How lovely. Nobody will have to endure the horrible fate of an imperfect child. Down Syndrome will be eradicated, because those kids are a no-good burden in their parents and the system. Good riddance, right? That’s where we are, and it’s terrifying. Who is willing to fight it?