Webster’s defines Eugenics as, “a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed”. Pretty innocuous, isn’t it? It merely means that as we have children we should be aware that our characteristics; looks, intelligence, and such, will likely carry on. In other words, we should find smart, attractive, whatever matters to you, partners. I think we all knew that even before 1883 when the term was coined.
But what about this, Iceland has all but eradicated Down’s Syndrome. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? A real victory for eugenics. Or is it? Iceland has done this by aborting just about every unborn baby that shows a possibility of Down’s. Rather a different sort of thing, I think.
The worst part is that they seem proud of it. David Harsanyi writing in The Federalist (and you really should read it) tells us:
Now, the word “eradication” typically implies that an ailment is being cured or beaten by some technological advancement. Not so in this case. Nearly 100 percent of women who receive positive tests for Down syndrome in that small nation end up eradicatingtheir pregnancies. Iceland averages only one or two Down syndrome children per year, and this seems mostly a result of parents receiving inaccurate test results.
It’s just a matter of time until the rest of the world catches up. In the United States around 67 percent of women who find out their child will be born with Down syndrome opt to have an abortion. In the United Kingdom it’s around 90 percent. More and more women are taking these prenatal tests, and the tests are becoming increasingly accurate.
For now, however, Iceland has completed one of the most successful eugenics programs in the contemporary world. If you think that’s overstated, consider that eugenics — the word itself derived from Greek, meaning “well born” — is nothing more than an effort to control breeding to increase desirable heritable characteristics within a population. This can be done through “positive” selection, as in breeding the “right” kinds of people with each other, or in “negative” selection, which is stopping the wrong kinds of people from having children.
The latter was the hallmark of the progressive movement of the 1900s. It 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.
Now, as a general rule Down’s Syndrome is not inheritable, and this story “reflects a relatively heavy-handed genetic counseling,” as geneticist Kari Stefansson admits in a video. One is led to ask, what else can we control for in our kids? Want one son and maybe a daughter later? That can certainly be done. Why not, it’s the mother’s body, after all. Isn’t it?
But what about that child, essentially murdered even before he or she had a chance at life?
Over at Landspitali University Hospital, Helga Sol Olafsdottir counsels women who have a pregnancy with a chromosomal abnormality. They speak to her when deciding whether to continue or end their pregnancies. Olafsdottir tells women who are wrestling with the decision or feelings of guilt: ‘This is your life — you have the right to choose how your life will look like.’
Marie Stopes and Margeret Sanger must be so proud of her.
You know, back in the day, when Christianity was known as ‘The Way’, one of the markers of Christians was the way they loved each other, no matter the station, and more to our point, they did not leave unwanted children to die of exposure. As just about every other culture in antiquity did
Seems to me that for all our prattling about human rights, we’re doing a really terrible job of practicing what we preach.