Search and Destroy. Cleaning the gene pool via abortion. It is a recurring theme discussed openly in news articles and journals. Here is the latest ugly installment.
New research published in “Science Translational Medicine” is based on the unborn baby’s DNA circulating in the mother’s blood which can be analyzed for genetic disorders. The lead scientist, Dr. Jay Shendure, said, “This work opens up the possibility that we will be able to scan the whole genome of the fetus for more than 3,000 single-gene disorders through a single-non-invasive test.” The test involves taking blood from the mother and saliva from the father.
According to National Public Radio’s Rob Stein, there is already something on the market to detect genetic anomalies. “They don’t analyze the entire genome,. They don’t spell out every single letter in the genetic code. They look for specific variations, usually things like Down syndrome and conditions related to that,” says Stein. In response to questioning from another NPR reporter, Stein replied, “The tests that have come on the market in the last year or two, they’re now considered pretty reliable, but they still need to be confirmed by followup tests if there’s a positive result. The concern there is that maybe some people would get frightened and act prematurely and terminate the pregnancy without getting that confirmatory result.” So, the real tragedy here would be aborting the “perfect” child.
But it gets worse. Just last week, the chief medical editor on NBC Today, Nancy Snyderman, told viewers that it’s really good science to abort an unborn child with a genetic disorder. “I think the future will be such that you’ll find out that your child may have a genetic hit. You can fix that genetic problem, and improve your chance, a child’s chance…,” says Snyderman. When asked about the ethics of aborting a child under those circumstances, Snyderman replied: “Well, I’m pro-science, so I believe that this is a great way to prevent diseases.” A genetic hit. Pro-science. Preventing disease, not the child.
Chiming in is New York Times columnist Ross Douthat who raises the concern that, “it is hard to imagine that more expansive knowledge won’t lead to similar forms of prenatal selection on an ever-more-significant scale. “ Then Douthat ends with reference to our capacity to rationalize such actions, and an attempt to distance ourselves from the eugenicists of the past. “From a rigorously pro-choice perspective, the in utero phase is a space in human development where disease and disability can be eradicated, and our impulse toward perfection given ever-freer rein, without necessarily doing any violence to human dignity and human rights. But this is a convenient perspective for our civilization to take…..it’s easy for us to look back and pass judgement on yesterday’s eugenicists. It’s harder to acknowledge what we have in common with them.” Mr. Douthat — we have a lot in common with them.