The Willful Extinction of the “Imperfect”

Whatever you are doing right now, stop for a moment and read this letter. The article accompanying the letter is fine, as far as it goes, but the gold is in the letter Silas’ father posted on Facebook. The site is not pro-life, so it tries to present options from an “objective” perspective (as if the value of a life could be calculated on an abacus). But, leaving that aside, they have done a great service in publishing this father’s letter. Other sites have “open letters” to doctors from mothers. Naturally, I was attracted to this one because it’s written by a father. He could not have expressed himself more perfectly.

People with Down are becoming extinct. That’s an odd way of speaking of a group of people, I know, but I don’t know how else to say it. The fact is, people with Down syndrome are being systematically identified and exterminated prior to birth. In the United States, the rate of abortion for unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome is 67%. In Europe, the average is 92%. In Denmark, the abortion rate for unborn children with Down syndrome is 98%, and in the Netherlands, it is 100%. You read that right: 100%. There has been not one child with Down syndrome purposely born in the Netherlands for nine years now. (I say “purposely” because some have slipped through because of the error rate of the test, which means others have been aborted who were incorrectly identified with Down syndrome because the error rate works both ways).

Sadly, the medical community is decidedly behind the extermination of an entire group of people who are determined to be less than perfect. Some justify the extermination by a simple cost analysis. People with Down cost more. They place a greater financial burden on their families and on society as a whole, since the cost of care contributes to rising medical costs for everyone, especially in those societies, like Europe, where socialized medicine or single-payer health care is the norm. Others justify the extermination by insisting that the quality of life of a person with Down can never be very high, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary offered by parents and siblings who have a family member with Down and, of course, the people with Down themselves who testify to the high quality of their lives. As the number of people with Down syndrome decreases, so will services to assist people with Down and their families. Eventually, there will be no services at all, and one can even imagine the day that insurance companies and Medicaid and Medicare will refuse to pay out for the care of people with Down. These factors, of course, will be added to the list of reasons why no parents would want to carry a Down pregnancy to term. Add to that the stigmatization of people with Down, as well as of their parents, who will be accused of being cruel for allowing such a one to be born. The pressures will be relentless and, for many, overwhelming.

And who thinks it will stop here? Does anyone imagine that people with Down syndrome will be the only ones targeted for extermination? What happens when geneticists, who now have access to the entire mapped genetic code, are able to identify those genes that diagnose autism, or mental health issues, or sickle cell disease? While some homosexuals are eager to identify a “gay gene” in order to settle the question of the origins of a homosexual orientation in favor of a genetic origin (none has been found so far, and the question of the origins of homosexual orientation remains open), others are less eager, knowing that, should an unborn baby be identified as possessing such a gene, the option to abort will likely be a very popular one. Some states have already passed or considered bills making sex-selection abortion, popular in countries such as China and India, illegal. Yes, there are those in the U. S. of A. who decide to abort because their unborn baby is the wrong sex (and, by “wrong” sex, don’t we almost always mean female?). Is anyone surprised?

And who thinks it will stop there? Once we can justify by any variety of means the extermination of those in the womb who fail to meet the standard of perfection, who’s to say the laser won’t then be targeted at those who fall from that standard later in life? No one pretends anymore that Dr. Jack Kevorkian limited his assistance to those with terminal illnesses. He was happy to kill anyone who asked. Alzheimer may become a thing of the past, and this may be a back door way to defeat cancer. Those who suffer the devastating debilitating effects of motor vehicle accidents or sports injuries may be “offered” the option of medically assisted suicide. All of this can be justified without even working up a sweat, if the measure used is a financial or “quality of life” calculus. Might as well kill everybody, because we’re all going to die of something!

I know the Nazi analogy is overused, but it seems particular appropriate here. The National Socialists argued that the Jews were undermining German society by their unsavory financial dealings and social perversions. Exterminating an entire class of people seemed reasonable when they were successfully stereotyped as a menace to society. It was the right thing to do! Just so, people with Down syndrome are stereotyped as a burden to society generally and their families in particular. It seems reasonable to unburden ourselves of them. After we’ve successfully convinced ourselves that these people simply have no right to be born, that, in fact, we’re doing them a favor by killing them off early, it’s a short leap to do the same to others.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

One thought on “The Willful Extinction of the “Imperfect”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s