Monday, August 11, 2008
The culling of humans beings to increase the quality of the species when performed forcibly by governments in the past was a crime against humanity.
But when performed voluntarily by middle-class parents today, often at the urging of their doctors ... who notices?
WSJ, from a remembrance of Harriet McBryde Johnson.
As our scientific powers to eliminate disability grow, our acceptance of disability wanes. To cite just one example, consider the rapid near-disappearance of people with Down Syndrome.
Between 80% and 90% of women who find out they are carrying a child with the chromosomal abnormality (which can be tested using amniocentesis) choose to abort. A Harvard medical student who surveyed 1,000 women who were pregnant with Down Syndrome babies reported that many were urged by their doctors to terminate their pregnancies; one woman's physician told her that her child would "never be able to read, write or count change." This at a time when new developments in medicine have nearly doubled the average life span of people who have the condition to 49 from 25 years.
As a culture, we have made what Amy Laura Hall of Duke University Divinity School calls a "democratic calculus of worth" regarding Down Syndrome...