Eugenics

SurrogacyEugenics Is…

…the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population, by encouraging the reproduction of people with “good” genes and discouraging those with “bad” genes.

IVF & Abortion; Specific Areas of RTL NSW Interest

In the case of abortion, prenatal testing of an unborn baby will sometimes lead to the destruction of a foetus.  In other words, abortion is used “eugenically” to take the life of an unborn baby who testing shows may be disabled or mentally challenged. The same can be said for destroying an unused embryo in the IVF process, where test results may show a risk of a child having a genetic condition.

RTL NSW Stance

Right to Life NSW believes it is wrong in any way to put to put less value on someone because of race, or on the grounds of a physical, mental or social condition.  That includes the life of an unborn baby.

DOWN SYNDROME

DOWN SYNDROME: A REAL-LIFE CASE OF THE EUGENICS DEBATE

What if we could eliminate Down Syndrome (DS)?  There many people who believe this is within our grasp as a society.  On the surface, it may sound good.  But is it?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.

What that would require is eliminating an entire group of people just because of their physical and mental disabilities.  In other words, the perception that they are of less value than someone living a normal life.

Secondly, there is no cure for DS.  To eliminate DS, you would have to abort every baby with DS before he or she is born.

That may sound drastic and unthinkable.  But thanks to new, less-invasive prenatal testing, parents have a lot more information on their unborn baby.  That includes, whether he or she has DS.   While governments don’t keep numbers on how many DS babies are aborted, it’s clear from all the information out there that, when given the knowledge of their baby having DS, more parents than not will abort that baby.

So is this eugenics?  Many will argue it isn’t, because governments aren’t forcing parents to make the decision on whether to keep or abort their DS baby.  They also argue using the term consent.  They say the parents of the unborn baby consented to the abortion because they believed it was best for them and/or the baby. However, the unborn baby has no choice. He or she hasn’t given their consent.

Also, ask yourself this:  if more parents than not choose to abort a baby because he or she has DS, doesn’t it sound like society has decided that someone with Down syndrome isn’t worth as much?

Quick Facts Supporting Our Position

Termination Rate in United States for Pregnancies where there was a definitive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. 24 studies were accepted:

  • 67% for 7 population-based studies
  • 85% for 9 hospital-based studies
  • 50% for 8 anomaly-based studies [1]

QUALITY OF LIFE?

“QUALITY OF LIFE” VS “SANCTITY OF LIFE”

Parents who are expecting a baby now have access to more information than ever before.  In addition to being able to just find out the sex of their unborn baby, they can also find out if he or she has a genetic disorder.

For many parents, hearing the news that their baby has a disorder like Down syndrome is too much.   They worry about the life that child will live.  They worry about the life they’ll live raising that child.  In other words, they worry about the “quality of life.”

HISTORY

WHAT IS EUGENICS?

The term “Eugenics” came into being in the 19th century, and exploded in the first half of the 20th century. The goal, to make societies better by weeding out the “bad” genes. Countries all over the world had eugenics policies, including Australia. At its worst, we saw the genocide carried out by Nazi Germany. Since then, many countries abandoned those social policies.

PREVALENCE

THIS ISN’T STILL GOING ON, IS IT?

Despite the absence of state-sponsored eugenics programs, you might say the movement is still very much alive and well.  At issue are two questions:

  • “Who gets to live?”
  • “Who gets to give life?”

By “who gets to live,” are the beliefs by many people around the world that if their unborn baby has a genetic disorder, they should be aborted.  While this is a very personal decision for the parents, the reality is that a majority of parents, when faced with that decision, will do just that.  They are being influenced by others who believe that that baby has less value than a healthy baby. They are being influenced by societal beliefs that it’s wrong to bring such a baby into the world.

By “who gets to give life,” are the beliefs that disabled people, or people with a certain genetic or mental disposition, should not be allowed to have children.  There are places where there are even the forced sterilisations of disabled or mentally challenged mothers, so they won’t have any babies.

And it all comes back to this: the “quality of life.”  Namely, the quality of life for a baby, his or her parents, the families, and society.  While that may sound like a noble cause or phrase, it fails to take into account one major thing: the “sanctity of life.”

Through the manipulation of human reproduction, eugenic beliefs deprive millions of babies who might be born with a disability a chance at life.  These are babies who grow up to live happy and productive lives.  These babies have parents who grow stronger through their adversity and the love they have for those children.

FUTURE

WHAT’S NEXT?

Already, we’re seeing cases where a couple will abort a foetus because the baby isn’t the desired sex they were hoping for.  Or there are concerns over some physical deformity.  As parents are given more and more information about a baby that hasn’t even been born yet, they will have more and more reasons not to keep that baby.  In other words, the Sanctity of Life is given less value when it comes to the life of that unborn baby.

IMPACT

WHAT EUGENICS MEANS FOR:

  • FOR THE UNBORN – Eugenic beliefs place a value on life, that some are worth more than others. If prenatal screening shows an unborn baby has a genetic disorder, he or she faces a real possibility of not having a chance to live – that he or she is of less value than a healthy baby, and therefore should be aborted.
  • FOR THE PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY CHALLENGED – Eugenic beliefs paint a picture that certain people shouldn’t be allowed to have children. At its worst, eugenics leads to the forced sterilisations of women in some countries, although most countries have turned away from the practice.
  • FOR SOCIETY – The belief that some unborn babies should be allowed to live while others aren’t, leads to a dangerous, slippery slope. Practices like In Vitro Fertilisation where unused embryos are discarded because of genetic testing, or the abortions of foetuses who test positive for a genetic disorder, are already “weeding out” millions of lives because of the belief they are of less value.

[1] Prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome: a systematic review of termination rates (1995-2011), Jaime Natoli, Deborah Ackerman, Suzanne McDermott and Janice Edwards

[2] UN Human Rights Council, Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development: Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, 15 January 2008, A/HRC/7/3,[paras.38, 39].