Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just Testing ...

In one of his early films -- which one, I forget; they're all the same -- Woody Allen plays both a Cossack soldier and a Jewish rabbi on a battlefield with explosions going off all around them. The soldier is panicking. The rabbi calmly reassures him: God is just testing us. "Why," asks the frantic soldier, "doesn't he give us a written [test]?"

It doesn't work that way.

In my post on Tuesday of this week, I said: "Evil overtakes us in small, seeming innocuous ways, each incremental development merely the logical extension of a state of affairs to which everyone has previously grown accustomed."

Here is one of the little baby steps (if you'll pardon the irony) toward the Brave New World of 21st century Eugenics -- so seemingly kinder and gentler and incremental than the old-fashioned Nazi sort, but, for that reason, far less likely to provoke a moral reaction. Reported by Lifesite:
In the same month, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) are recommending that all pregnant women, not just those over 35, should be screened, including with invasive procedures such as amniocentesis, to discover whether they have a risk of bearing a child with Down’s Syndrome.
What precisely is the reason for the test? What can be done with the information the test provides? Only two things: nothing and abortion. Since the former option (nothing) is what will happen without the test, the test only exists to favor the latter option. Anyone who thinks that this is merely science is not paying attention.
While the ACOG media release does not directly mention abortion as the usual fate of the “screened” babies, a SOGC official readily admits that the Canadian recommendation was specifically intended to give women the option to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome.
“Yes, it's going to lead to more termination, but it's going to be fair to these women who are 24 who say, 'How come I have to raise an infant with Down's syndrome, whereas my cousin who was 35 didn't have to?’” Dr. Andre Lalonde, the executive vice president of the SOGC, told the National Post.
The Canadian society of obstetricians and gynaecologists recommends that all women be "given" amniocentesis, and that women over 40 should "automatically be given" amniocentesis. One wonders what the word "automatically" means here. Is there a distinction between being given amniocentesis and being automatically given amniocentesis? If so, what is it? Whatever it is, you can be sure of the direction in which the eugenic screws are turning.

A few years after this regime is in place, a parent walking down the street with a Down's syndrome child will not only be a rare sight, but it will no longer invite the sympathy and even admiration of onlookers. Rather, we will have learned to regard the bringing of Down's syndrome children into the world as an act of social irresponsibility. Eventually, social disincentives will be deemed necessary to discourage this from happening: the withdrawal of social services for those reckless enough ("heartlessness" will no doubt be the catch-phrase) to allow a Down's syndrome child to be born, and so on.

The spokesman for the Canadian medical association admitted that "it's going to lead to more termination," but, typically, there was hardly a hint as to what that word might really mean. The ACOG recommendation goes so far as to say that the discovery of Down's syndrome would result in "pregnancy loss." What, one must ask, is being unacknowledged by this acknowledgement? First there is the verb: the test "would result" in pregnancy loss. Notice the passive voice. No reference to a moral agent. And as for the noun: What is it exactly that is lost when a woman suffers a pregnancy loss?

It is just a test. Indeed, we are being tested, and it is not a written test. When a pregnant woman suffers a spontaneous abortion, we say -- saddened to have to say it -- that she lost her baby. When a mother hires an abortionist to kill the baby she is carrying and remove its little body piece by piece from her womb we say she suffered a "pregnancy loss." In societies where the popular will has political influence, tyrannies and travesties always begin with the corruption of language. It is up to the poet and the moralist to join forces, insisting on a correspondence between the words we use and the reality to which they ostensibly point.

A related matter:

I quoted Robert George in the earlier post, who warned against the "move towards treating human life like a commodity." A giant step in that direction was the first legislative priority of the 2007 Congress. The new House of Representatives leadership rushed through a bill that would allow federal funding for the creation and destruction of embryonic human life for the purpose of medical research, a slope so steep and so slippery that it constitutes a plunge into a heartless sacrificial world that will quickly become a medical status quo.

Having grown accustomed to millions of aborted babies each year, we are now ready for the next phase: cloning humans in order to cannibalize them, though self-professed sophisticates will regard the use of such scientifically correct language as proof that those who use it are members of the "religious right" or the flat earth society, enemies of progress in any case. In fact, to speak in such terms is simply to refuse to go along with the progressive anesthetizing of our moral sensibilities, without which scientific discoveries and technological innovations will produce catastrophes all out of proportion to their professed benefits.


Jeanne said...

Thank you for your article. I have a 4 year old son with Down syndrome and people just don't understand first of all, that it's not even close to being the big scary deal that it's made out to be; and secondly, we are coming to an age where these beautiful children will no longer be around because of eugenics.

A few years after this regime is in place, a parent walking down the street with a Down's syndrome child will not only be a rare sight, but it will no longer invite the sympathy and even admiration of onlookers.

Personally, and I do think I speak for many parents of children with Down syndrome, we don't want anyone's sympathy. I have nothing for them to feel sorry about. If anything, maybe I feel kind of bad for other people for just not understanding what real life is like with a child having Down syndrome.

Also, I've not done anything worthy of admiration. My son has done a lot, so if you were referring to admiring my child, then that's okay. Otherwise, parents of children with Down syndrome have not taken on a burden to be admired but instead have taken on perhaps one of the greatest joys of their lives.

Thank you again for your article. I referred back to you in my own blog.

Gil Bailie said...

When I used the word sympathy, I didn't mean "pity," but I should have used the word: admiration, for one spontaneously admires those who choose life. There is nothing condescending about it.

Candy Slice said...

Point taken.