A CBS News report mentions the declining numbers of babies born with Down syndrome in Europe. In Iceland, the vast majority of women who received a prenatal screening that tested positive for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy. Termination rates in the developed world are staggeringly high: 67 percent of preborn babies identified with Down syndrome are terminated in the United States, 77 percent in France, and 98 percent in Denmark.
On the surface, it may seem as though nothing is wrong with aborting babies identified as having Down syndrome. The argument made by advocates of abortion is that by aborting them, we save them from a life of suffering and spare the family from high medical expenses. Richard Dawkins said on Twitter in 2014 that it would be “immoral” not to abort a pregnancy in which the mother knew the fetus had Down syndrome. Dawkins also acknowledged that the majority of fetuses identified as having Down syndrome are aborted, defending his position. The New York Times in 2015 published an Op-Ed of a family asking, “Does Down Syndrome Justify Abortion?” In the piece, the would-be father of a potential Down syndrome baby defended his difficult decision to abort. He also noted how the doctor made a “tactical move to push us toward an abortion.”
The twisted view of life that prescribes abortion for babies with disorders devalues all life and thrusts humanity down a path of genocide. After all, if Down syndrome should be eradicated through abortion, why not any other defect that we have the ability to detect currently or in the future? Why not exterminate the blind, the deaf, or even cleft lip? Advocates of aborting these babies claim they aren’t killing people, but instead killing the disorders or defects those people have. This is a lie.
The eugenics movement—attempting to alter the human population by controlling breeding—is hardly a new one. In fact, it is the correct logical conclusion of a purely Darwinian worldview. Dawkins is a true believer, and he correctly identifies his side of the moral argument on abortion. If the survival of the species is paramount, then humans should use any available means to reduce genetic defects, including genetic cleansing of the preborn.
This creates a dilemma for those on the left wing of the political spectrum, particularly those who advocate for gay or LBGT causes. If it is humanity’s duty to exterminate genetic conditions that do not further the survival of the species, and if homosexuality is proven to be a genetic condition, why wouldn’t the logical Darwinian conclusion be that gay or transgender babies should be exterminated in the same way as Down syndrome babies?
It isn’t difficult to see where this logic would take you when explored fully. Under a Darwinian approach to humanity, even curable disorders should be exterminated, since resources used to treat and cure those disorders could be allocated more efficiently—for the benefit of the human race, of course.
Therefore, being uniformly pro-life in all cases is the correct moral position, whether you’re a Christian or not. Pro-lifers believe life has inherent value because it is God-breathed, but also in America because it is the first necessary condition for true freedom. The value of one life is placed above the value of any scheme, organization, or government of human creation not because it is logical, but because in humility, we account for the imperfection of human logic and instead submit to a higher moral standard than we may currently understand.
If we could choose, we would choose to have everyone born without Downs or any other disorder. But we cannot choose, because we are not gods. Each of us has some flaw—seen or unseen—and enabling the unseen to exterminate the seen is a barbaric genocide. No individual or group can decide what would improve humanity on behalf of the rest, and especially not for the defenseless preborn, who cannot yet speak. Assigning a value to the life of another is evil; a person can only assign a value to his own life. Otherwise, classes of supposed “betters” could form, thus justifying the killing of “lesser people”—say, Jews—because the “majority of the people would be better off” without them. That ugly road should not be retried.
Ultimately, humanity must reject such shallow Darwinian thought, in the United States and across the world. Instead, we should reach toward a higher and truer understanding of the origins of man. Taking Iceland’s example to its logical conclusion leads us to a dark, desperate place—a place which Americans should strongly condemn and not move toward. We should choose to value life inherently with a careful humility, even if doing so may not always make sense to our current understanding of science and reason.