SHOULD WE PRESELECT CHILDREN?

Recently the following headline appeared in a Danish paper: ” Plans to make Denmark a Down’s syndrome-free perfect society.”

The Danes want to promote aborting fetuses with Down’s syndrome, so their society will be free of such people around 2030.

Do you consider this recent development a cause for jubilation or does it want to make you throw up?

Give the Danes credit.  At least they are raising this issue.  In North America, it’s estimated that more than 90 per cent of unborn babies with Down’s syndrome are aborted.

A battery of tests now tells the parents not only the sex of their baby but also its medical defects.  The latest test – at seven weeks of pregnancy – reveals the baby’s gender and raises fears of sex selection, which has resulted in millions of missing girls in India and China. (Males in those countries cannot find a bride).

Should there be any limits put on this “deselecting” children?

As McGill bioethicist Margaret Somerville points out that offering pre-natal testing sends a message that a woman is only conditonally pregnant, until she’s told there’s “nothing wrong with the baby or it is the right sex.  Somerville argues that this approach contravenes the value that parental love is unconditional.

The real message in preselecting children is that we don’t want you in our society unless you measure up to a certain standard. By the way, are Down’s syndrome children a perpetual burden?  Ask their parents.  Ask Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche.

And in this preselection context, how will women who refuse screening be regarded?  Will families who “choose” not to abort when “abnormalities” are discovered be seen as socially irresponsible?

Should the government pay for preselecting screening?

Do we want to live in a society where it is ok to kill Down’s syndrome babies?

Should we preselect our children?

What do you think?

43 Comments »

  1. 1

    I think, as always, that such things ought to be left up to the individual, and NOT “society.”

    No one has the right to tell anyone else what to value.

  2. 2
    Neil McKenty Says:

    “No one has the right to tell another person what to value.” Really? In fact the state tells its citizens to respect human life on pain of death or a long term in prison.

    What is the essential difference between killing a Down’s syndrome child at 20 weeks in the womb or at 20 weeks outside the womb. Is that the kind of society we want to live in.?

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Sorry: I mistakenly posted my comment meant for this thread under the “labour” thread.

  4. 4
    jim Says:

    Or a doctor asking a soon to be mother who is a “little
    people” person if she wants him to to abort her child because of its drarfism.
    Talk about ignorance or insult.

  5. 5

    I am a parent of a complex special-needs girl. She is now 50 years old, lives with us and is a joy in our lives. It hasn’t been an easy road and just imagine what it was like 50 years ago! In the final analysis, she has taught us more than we’ve taught her, and we had to work hard at our marriage to assure her of the same Mom & Dad under her roof. We had to provide for her secure future after we’ve gone. There were so many details to learn and respond to.
    I agree (somewhat with Lady J.) above. However, as a society, we really don’t KNOW what to value. i.e.: the planet.
    Rather than have a choice to abort, we should have the technology to identify the possibilities and employ prevention. We could also employ choice.
    I would say “Yes, all children are a perpetual burden.”

    I always knew my daughter’s challenges in life, and I consider that we had a head start from birth. I felt sorry for those parents who discovered a drug-addled 18 year old or a 35 year old dead beat son or daughter. They started out “normal”…

  6. 6

    This same debate has been raging in the autism community for the past decade.

    Stephen Speilberg is diagnosed with a form of autism. So is Temple Grandin. Suspected autistics include Bill Gates, Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton.

    Many autistics have a unique and different way of looking at things…a thinking “outside the box” perspective…that provides society with innovation, creativity, and benefits they otherwise would not have.

    I am of the firm opinion that if pre-natal testing for the autism gene continues, we will abort ourselves out of some of the greatest achievements life has to offer.

    But, alas, if you’re pro-choice you must necessarily be for aborting indesirables be they Down’s Syndrome, autistics, or females. Can’t have it both ways.

  7. 7

    Neil asks me (on this topic but posted elsewhere as I had mistakenly posted there):

    How do those who want to abort undesirables differ from Hitler?

    I don’t think they do.

  8. 8

    “In fact the state tells its citizens to respect human life on pain of death or a long term in prison.”

    No it doesn’t. “Respect” has nothing to do with allowing a lowlife to live when you’d really rather kill him. Neither does “value,” which is different from “respect.”

  9. 9
    joe agnost Says:

    Neil asked: “What is the essential difference between killing a Down’s syndrome child at 20 weeks in the womb or at 20 weeks outside the womb.”

    What a f*%&$ing stupid question.

    The first difference that comes to my mind is that the “20 weeks outside” being has a working nervous system and thus feels pain.

  10. 10
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Joe agnost writes that Neil asks a stupid question.

    Not so stupid that there isn’t a rigorous and compelling debate — both scientific and religious — on the question.

    To so condescendingly refer to this question as “f%&%$#ing stipid” suggests something about joe, not Neil’s question.

    Take a look at any of these results and ask yourselves whether thr scientific community agrees with joe’s description of the question as “stupid”:

    http://www.google.com/m?gl=ca&source=android-browser-type&client=ms-android-lge&hl=en&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g4-k0d0t0&fkt=79&fsdt=24702&cqt=&rst=&htf=&his=&maction=&q=does a fetus feel pain?&flip=0

  11. 11
    joe agnost Says:

    It’s a f*%&$ing stupid question because it implies that there is no difference in suffering between a living human and a fetus.

    Yes, the question is stupid – and it’s ignorant too.

  12. 12

    And there’s also the disconnect between the idea of “killing” something that has never been born (that is, you cannot kill what has not been born) and the killing of a living, BREATHING human being…

  13. 13
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Wow.

    Glad to know joe is omniscient enough to know with such certainty that a fetus doesn’t suffer as much as a human does.

    I suppose there is no longer any need for debate.

  14. 14
    joe agnost Says:

    Tony wrote: “Glad to know joe is omniscient enough to know with such certainty that a fetus doesn’t suffer as much as a human does.”

    Are you seriously suggesting that a fetus might suffer as much as an already born human? You really need to educate yourself on the latest scientific breakthroughs on fetal development…

    Until about the 30 week of gestation there isn’t a working nervous system – and that doesn’t factor in the fact that a fetus is basically in a coma without any knowledge of the outside world even with a nervous system.
    No, I’m very confidant that a fetus doesn’t suffer NEARLY as much as an already born human does – if at all.

    Tony cont’d: “I suppose there is no longer any need for debate.”

    Not among the rational members of our species…

  15. 15
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Lady Janus,

    I might agree with you if we were talking aBOUTthe fetus of a squirrell.

    But what essentailly is the difference between killing a living breathing human being and a live breathing h uman fetus?

  16. 16
    joe agnost Says:

    Neil wrote (again): “But what essentailly is the difference between killing a living breathing human being and a live breathing h uman fetus?”

    Really? You really can’t think of any differences?

    One has a working nervous system and suffers… I’ll leave you to discern which is which.

    Oh – and a fetus doesn’t “breath” like an already born human does.

  17. 17
    Neil McKenty Says:

    So does a human fetus suffer according to many scientific and medical studies.

  18. 18
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Hey, joe, if a fetus is such a non-entity, why are you getting all worked up in a lather?

    Although I myself was once a fetus, I personally have no knowledge of whether they feel or suffer.

    But neither do you.

    So why not err on the side of safety?

  19. 19
    jim Says:

    Well joe, I see you’re back and once again running the gamut of emotions from A to B. You’re exhortations, bombast, and invective and other verbal pyrotechnics tell me that on your return from the ether, you are still having delusions about your adequacy. Joe, Neil did not imply what you said he implied. Secondly, you said that the word “question” was stupid. How can that be, it is inert. The person using them may be stupid, but not the word. You also said that the word was also ignorant. Once again, can’t be. You know joe. maybe you can change things and concentrate on being kinder to your fellow man which in turn would make you happier. The second name in your moniker, agnost, implies confrontation of some sort. It signals a chip on your shoulder. Give yourself a break and talk to your inner child. We need “converts”. In the meantime have a nice day, unless you’ve made other plans.

  20. 20

    Neil: a fetus does not breathe.

  21. 21
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Lady Janus:

    You were once a non-breathing fetus yourself. At that time, every single cell of your non-human entity had the exact identical DNA as you have today.

    DNA is what defines you as an individual and as a person.

  22. 22
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    When you snuff out the life of a fetus, you are snuffing out the existence of a unique set of DNA that none of the 6 billion inhabitants of planet Earth have and no one before or after had or will have.

  23. 23

    I don’t think that my DNA defines me as a person, at all.

  24. 24
    Barbara Says:

    Of course you are more than your DNA pattern, littlepatti, but it is the blueprint for the physical body you have. As Tony pointed out, your DNA is unique enough to identify you for legal purposes.

  25. 25
    jim Says:

    littlepatti – DNA, as I see it not only defines me negatively, if it mutates against my best interests, but it also defines me if someone I care for has had a DNA malfunction. How we make it thru the replication process during our lifetime is really amazing, as during cell division it is prone to error. Luckily, a proofreading enzyme usually corrects the process.
    But DNA and the envirement is totally different. Here a mutation may become a disease, such as skin cancer, which, as we know, is caused by excessive UV radiation. In this case, I defined me all by myself.

  26. 26

    Tony, I’m with Patti on this one. DNA does not define anyone as a person. As for “snuffing out” a unique chemical formula, so what? There are currently already more than seven BILLION unique chemical formulas walking around. Enough, already.

  27. 27
    jim Says:

    Lady J – I see your snorting snuff again.

  28. 28
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Lady J:

    You obviously agree with selective breeding via abortion.

    Tell me: would you have let Bill Gates be born?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7899821/

  29. 29

    Tony, I “obviously” do nothing of the kind. Do stop trying to put an agenda where none exists, there’s a good boy.

  30. 30
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Oh, I’m sorry, Lady Janus, but when you answered Neil’s question “should we preselect our children?” with “I think, as individuals, that such things ought to be left up to the individual” and since Neil’s post’s discussion of selective breeding was within the context of abortion that it was fair to conclude that you are okay with selective breeding through abortion.

    What exactly are you saying then…that you are against it but that it’s okay for others to engage in it?

  31. 31

    RE: “What exactly are you saying then…that you are against it but that it’s okay for others to engage in it?”
    I say “exactly”.
    The “Roe” debate keeps raising it’s ugly head. (frequently spearheaded by men).

    Women need to be encouraged and supported to find alternatives to abortion, but in the final analysis, they should have the LEGAL right to decide.

  32. 32
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Littlepatti:

    It’s quite simple. If you spread your legs and engage in sexual intercourse you knowingly accept the risk that you can get pregnant.

    If you can’t accept the responsibility and consequences don’t engage in such an activity in the first place.

  33. 33

    Tony- I guess you don’t know anything about rape.
    I have to dismiss your opinion, because it so happens you can’t get pregnant, so it follows that you are ignorant and quite arrogant on the subject. It appears so.

  34. 34

    Tony, that’s not what I said. I said that “as ALWAYS, such things ought to be left up to the individual and not society.”

    My answer has nothing to do with what you call “selective breeding.” If, as we should, we leave it up to the individual, you would never know the reason for anyone’s having an abortion, whether it’s because she’s practising selective breeding or it’s for any other reason. It’s none of anyone else’s business.

  35. 35

    “If you spread your legs and engage in sexual intercourse you knowingly accept the risk that you can get pregnant.”

    So, here’s what you do, Tony: keep your own pecker in your own pants and YOU won’t have to worry about women who want a sexual romp without the risk of getting pregnant by you. And nobody else’s sexual life is any of your business, is it?

  36. 36
    Neil McKenty Says:

    My suggestion is that we close comments on this issue.

  37. 37
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    “It’s none of anyone’s business,” if we end up with a society of 30% women, zero Down’s Syndrome, and zero autistics…and that IS what you are saying, Lady Janus.

  38. 38

    Tony, find a dark and moist orifice in which to shove it, willya? I’m saying nothing of the kind and you know it.

  39. 39
    jim Says:

    I believe that there isn’t a woman or man alive who doesn’t agree thay they are totally responsible for their body, and to the use that they render it voluntarily. A big but, BUT not if the woman gets pregnant, at which time she cedes her responsibilities, by way of saying that he did IT to her, and must pay, rather than she allowed herself under her own authority to get pregnant, by not taking the necessary precautions. She mIght even go so far as to tell HIM that she has taken the precautions threefold, and go to it big boy.
    Of course what is passe now, (right?), is that she wants to get pregnant unbeknownst to him, either because she loves him, and/or she is trying to take him prisoner. BUT, now she doesn’t love him anymore, as she has found a new guy (read sucker), but she wants the depositor to pay, for the next 18 years, for her indiscretion of giving up control of
    her body to another person.
    Neil, stay out of this. The commenters are in heat. And unless you have a bucket of water to throw on them…….
    Just before I was born, at 4 pounds, they were calling me a foetus. If I wasn’t feeling any pain as a foetus, why was I bawling my eyes out whilst coming out of the tunnel.
    Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Was it Scott from Marmion?

  40. 40
    Neil McKenty Says:

    COMMENTS ON THIS POLST ARE CLOSED

    Neil

  41. 41
    Chris Says:

    Ciao
    My partner and I love your website and find most of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for you personally? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write concerning here. Once again, awesome web log!

  42. 42
    Neil McKenty Says:

    We do not use quest writers but you are welcome to leave your comments.

  43. 43
    wobblescat Says:

    I think all of society should have a goal of eliminating such genetic defects, I don’t like that the human race has been removed from evolution.


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