Parents of kids with Down syndrome are trying to discourage routine abortions of such children. Tests for the syndrome are spreading, and 90 percent of women who test positive choose abortion. Parents' methods of discouragement: meeting with doctors to change the way they talk about Down's, asking doctors to refer pregnant women to them, and inviting the women to meet their affected kids.
Official rationales: 1) Down's kids are a joy and not such a burden. 2) Routine abortion of them is a step toward eugenics.
Unofficial rationale: If no more kids are born with the syndrome, society's support for kids already affected will evaporate.
Cynical view: Misery loves company.
Hardcore pro-choice view: This smells like pro-life pressure tactics.
There are so many slippery slopes in that Slate magazine article that it is difficult to pick a starting point. Needless to say the article doesn’t paint a pretty picture. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in Great Britain regulates human embryo research in the country. The HFEA had strict guidelines on what could be done to the embryo after tests indicated a potential serious disease. Recently, they crossed over that line and gave authority to the parents to terminate the embryo for minor, treatable diseases.
Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is the process that is similar to the genetic engineering in the movie Gattaca. In this movie, humans are genetically manufactured to be perfect in every way and the parents even have the option to pick certain cosmetic traits they would like their children to have. Ethan Hawk’s character is actually inferior but he assumes the identity of a superior human to gain entry into the space program. A bit of this can already be seen in the U.K. as parents can now dismiss the PGD that indicates a male/female embryo- for example, if a family has girls and no boys to carry on the family name.
It can’t be easy caring for a child with a severe disability and I do not know if I have the constitution or patience to deal with it. It does seem comparable to a fast-food medical procedure, however, to abandon the ‘embryo’ so quickly after PGD. But, it isn’t really an embryo so why put it and the parents through the torture of that lifestyle? Not that I am implying that caring for mentally/physically handicapped children is ‘torture’, but you know what I mean. Eugenics is the most slippery of slopes of human intervention, but I cannot discredit its intentions.
I belonged to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the color of your skin. No, we now have discrimination down to a science. -Vincent
Is it really so bad to give a child the best head start possible in this world? With all the bullshit that goes on in everyday life, wouldn’t it be great to get rid of the gene that would force your child to take insulin shots everyday, or cause a higher risk of hereditary cancer, or even something so trivial as penis size or having a child with 12 fingers so that he can be a phenomenal piano player? The scene in Gattaca where the doctor is admiring the ‘genetically enhanced’ penis size, wishing his parents would have chosen that option for him, is telling.
Dr. Lamar: Jerome, never shy, pisses on command. Beautiful piece of equipment you've got there Jerome. I ever told you that?
Vincent: Only every time I'm in here.
Dr. Lamar: Occupational hazard. I see a great many on the course of any given day. Your's just happens to be an exceptional example. Don't know why my folks didn't order one like that for me.
I think it all boils down to the person’s belief of when life is created. Looking at a few cells doesn’t really constitute a baby to me. Some believe it occurs when the sperm finally makes it to the egg while others believe it occurs somewhere between fertilization and birth.
Vincent: I'll never understand what possessed my mother to put her faith in God's hands, rather than her local geneticist.