Deselecting and selecting our children

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.

One thought on “Deselecting and selecting our children

  1. This article breaks my heart. My husband has a 60-year old cousin (Greg) with Down syndrome (with no way of knowing beforehand that he’d have it back then). His parents were told to put him in an institution in a nearby city. Absolutely not, they said. He has proven to be a valued member of his extended family … and just on the receiving end.

    He loves Green Bay Packer football and Chicago Cubs baseball, and a lot of the time he sort of understands what’s going.

    On his first visit to our home, I set out some cereal, milk, a bowl, and a spoon and went away to shower. When I returned, Greg had rinsed off his dishes and placed them in the strainer and put the milk in the fridge.

    His speech is not good, but he has his own ways to communicate. When my husband and I were dating, we took Greg to see the movie E.T. I was crying by the end. The best way he knew to comfort me was to offer me some gum and hold my hand.

    He even got “sweet” on a woman who worked at sheltered workshop he did.

    I just wanted to let folks out there that Down children & adults have likes and dislikes, individual personalities, and are precious children of God. Also, with advances in special ed almost every Down child will be able to learn more than the last generation, although level of functioning has nothing with level of love.

    I’m preaching to the choir here, but if one person who is contemplating aborting a Down syndrome child, I will be glad I took the time to post this.


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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s