The following was a letter I submitted to the LA Times:
In the Times’ Thursday, November 10, 2005 article headlined “Down Syndrome Seen Earlier With New Test”, I was dismayed to read the bland recitation of “facial features” on which diagnosticians rely to identify and target for extermination a certain class of unborn children whose intelligence may not meet parental expectations. I was reminded of the frequency with which racists have stereotyped African American facial features while insulting the intelligence of a race which has long been victimized by genocide. Facial features were also used to identify Jews in Nazi Germany and the countries occupied by National Socialists. The Website at www.shoaheducation.com explains that the architects of the Final Solution “… were essentially looking at the ‘phenotype’, or outward[ly] visible manifestations of ‘jewishness’, [an often fatal “disorder” during the Thousand-Year-Reich] ….”
Without a hint of ironic awareness, the Times’ article uncritically describes “physician training and quality control for the [Down Syndrome targeting] procedure.” Can the writer and his editors recall nothing of the reign of terror waged by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who personally examined and classified Jewish inmates at the infamous Auschwitz death camp? Like today’s disability-cleansing sonographers, Mengele sent to work projects those who met his diagnostic standards and to the gas chambers those whom he determined to be “unfit.”
Down Syndrome is indeed a leading cause of mental retardation but why does the Times’ story only quote physicians who, to remediate this “problem,” assert that “every pregnant woman should have … [Down Syndrome screening]? The Nazi eugenics program also made a priority of euthanizing the mentally retarded. Better mass murder than to corrupt the bloodlines of so narcissistic a “Master Race.”
And how disingenuous for the article to justify these tests, even in part, by declaring that they allow “more time [for mothers] to prepare themselves should they carry the [Down Syndrome] pregnancy to term.” The writer surely knew or should have known that more than 90% of the women whose babies test positive for Down Syndrome will kill the child. In fact, in many large hospitals the kill rate is virtually 100%. Why not report the fact that there is a waiting list of prospective adoptive parents who are eager to raise these children as their own? Why not interview the medical experts who will admit that killing them is more about vanity than charity.
Who will become the next diagnostic victim class? Those likely to “suffer” baldness? Shortness of stature? Flatness of chest? Why not? Many such “deformities” have become so stigmatized that substantial industries have emerged to “cure” these “afflictions.” As the human genome is mapped and studied, every “disorder” with a genetic component will eventually be testable in utero. Clinicians who place science in the service of eugenics are setting in motion forces they can not control and don’t begin to understand.
If, for instance, gay and lesbian political activists are correct in arguing that homosexuality is more genetically determined than volitionally chosen, then a predisposition toward this “condition” will eventually be measurable in the womb. At least one national news organization has already published the results of a survey concluding that were such a test available, a large majority of parents would elect it and abort unborn children who tested “positive.” Will gays and lesbians one day be as rare as Down Syndrome children have now become? We hope not but the Nazis would have hoped so. As the world now knows, they also exterminated homosexuals.
Not the least unsettling aspect of the Times’ one-sided coverage of this Down Syndrome story is the matter-of-fact tone in which the tale is told. Not the slightest intimation that people of conscience might quibble with the systematic eradication of an entire class of human beings. Or are the beings at issue even human? Does the Times believe that it is the child’s unborn-ness which renders it subhuman or is it the child’sintellectual deficiency? Perhaps it is both. The Nazis also found it convenient to designate burdensome beings subhuman. Experience teaches that allegations of subhumanity are almost invariably invoked to rationalize mass murder.
It would be tempting to dismiss this eugenic puff piece as a product of sloppy reporting were it not so typical of the propaganda which pervades news coverage of nearly every abortion related topic. The distinction between straight news and editorial comment has become the first casualty on the abortion front of the culture wars. Pius platitudes about journalistic integrity flow freely from the Fourth Estate but historically, it is the political corruption of the press which almost always informs the process by which genocide becomes normative behavior.
The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform