Margaret Somerville asks, “Is a society without disabled citizens really a perfect society?”
Just when some scientists are on the cusp of discovering a drug for treating people with Down syndrome, others are busy refining the technology which will make them disappear completely. A feature in the New York Times Magazine recently highlighted the work of Alberto Costa, a 48-year-old physician and neuroscientist at University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine. He has started a clinical trial on young adults to see if the drug memantine helps them become “smarter”. It is the first randomized clinical trial ever to take a drug that worked in mice with Down syndrome and apply it to humans.
If successful, it could be of enormous help for the 6,000 children who are born with Down syndrome each year in the United States. But Dr Costa faces an uphill battle for funding.
Down syndrome children are being aborted so fast that funding bodies think that there is little point in looking for a cure. “The geneticists expect Down syndrome to disappear,” Costa says, “so why fund treatments?” He fears that new quick non-invasive diagnostic tests will lead almost all women to abort Down syndrome children….
Widespread, publicly endorsed and paid-for pre-natal screening to eliminate people with certain conditions, for instance, Down syndrome, implicates, among other values, those of respect for both individual human life and human life in general; and respect for “disabled” (differently-abled) people, both as individuals and as a group.
The implementation of negative eugenics with respect to disabled people is the unavoidable collective impact of these screening-based decisions. As harsh as the language is, we can be described it as a “search and destroy” mission to wipe out certain groups of people.
And where might society supporting such screening lead? For instance, what would endorsing a belief that a society without disabled people can be considered “perfect” say about us? What kind of society might it result in?
Read the full piece at THIS LINK.