This article in Mere Comments touches on a subject that has been on my mind: the troubling trend of pro-choice rhetoric these days that seems more and more casual in assessing the value of people and of asserting the bravery of selecting disabled people for extinction before they’re born.
The debate on abortion seems to be undergoing a sort of change. It seems more possible than ever for people to admit what pro-lifers have always said: that abortion is basically murder and large-scale abortion is basically genocide. The horrible thing is that modern people are starting to admit that and just not care. Recently I feel like the discussion has begun to center on whether a little human engineering isn’t, after all, a good thing. I mean, y’know, not when Dr. Mengele does it or anything. But should we highly-evolved, extremely sophisticated and achingly sensitive people have to live in a world where children are born disabled? Shouldn’t the enlightened mother-to-be always play God for the good of the fetus (who she can call a child if she decides to keep it), and yes, for the good of The Rest of Us?
The author [the mother of a Down's syndrome child] concludes, logically enough, that “there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families.” Her stories also suggest that they would rather not have to encounter such freaks in public settings, or be responsible for any of the expense or trouble associated with their care.
The terrible thing about this is that even the basic premise seems deeply flawed to me. Our abilities to master-plan are extremely raw and almost always have disastrous side effects (consider for example, the dread Homeowners’ Associations). We don’t know what people we need today or tomorrow. We haven’t the slightest idea what blessing, what mercy may be brought to each of us by a service rendered either to or by those our society esteems so little? Who knows how many of their prayers have interceded for those of us who thought we functioned at a higher level?
I don’t think this ugly new chapter dooms only the retarded or crippled child. I think it dooms us all.