Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who Belongs with us?

Reflections on Faith and Culture: Just Testing ...

Gil Bailie raises the question of whether the Canadian covenant is soon to exclude children with Down's syndrome:
In my post on Tuesday of this week, I said: "Evil overtakes us in small, seeming innocuous ways, each incremental development merely the logical extension of a state of affairs to which everyone has previously grown accustomed."

Here is one of the little baby steps (if you'll pardon the irony) toward the Brave New World of 21st century Eugenics -- so seemingly kinder and gentler and incremental than the old-fashioned Nazi sort, but, for that reason, far less likely to provoke a moral reaction. Reported by Lifesite:
In the same month, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) are recommending that all pregnant women, not just those over 35, should be screened, including with invasive procedures such as amniocentesis, to discover whether they have a risk of bearing a child with Down’s Syndrome.
What precisely is the reason for the test? What can be done with the information the test provides? Only two things: nothing and abortion. Since the former option (nothing) is what will happen without the test, the test only exists to favor the latter option. Anyone who thinks that this is merely science is not paying attention.
While the ACOG media release does not directly mention abortion as the usual fate of the “screened” babies, a SOGC official readily admits that the Canadian recommendation was specifically intended to give women the option to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome.
“Yes, it's going to lead to more termination, but it's going to be fair to these women who are 24 who say, 'How come I have to raise an infant with Down's syndrome, whereas my cousin who was 35 didn't have to?’” Dr. Andre Lalonde, the executive vice president of the SOGC, told the National Post.
The Canadian society of obstetricians and gynaecologists recommends that all women be "given" amniocentesis, and that women over 40 should "automatically be given" amniocentesis. One wonders what the word "automatically" means here. Is there a distinction between being given amniocentesis and being automatically given amniocentesis? If so, what is it? Whatever it is, you can be sure of the direction in which the eugenic screws are turning.

A few years after this regime is in place, a parent walking down the street with a Down's syndrome child will not only be a rare sight, but it will no longer invite the sympathy and even admiration of onlookers. Rather, we will have learned to regard the bringing of Down's syndrome children into the world as an act of social irresponsibility. Eventually, social disincentives will be deemed necessary to discourage this from happening: the withdrawal of social services for those reckless enough ("heartlessness" will no doubt be the catch-phrase) to allow a Down's syndrome child to be born, and so on.
Have a look at that link above to Gil's Tuesday post; it returns to an issue Dag earlier raised - the creation of embryos in fertility clinics to "parental" specs. Blonde and blue eyed, for some; sperm from a Ph.D. for others; deafness or dwarfism for deaf and short "parents". To my mind, this is not the spirit of true covenanting, in which anyone can take the place of anyone else. (However much we know that some people will not be up to certain tasks as they grow, it is not our role to determine, by eugenic or other design, the birth attributes that make for a suitable member of our covenantal reciprocity.) It is selfish self-absorption and a refusal to join with others in mutual recognition of, and a humble sharing in, this world's uncertainties.

Sorry I have not had time to write much lately. But I will be at the Covenant Zone/Blue Scarf meeting tonight in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, central branch, in front of Blenz Coffee. Hope to see you there, where the meaning of the covenant that can renew all that is best in our nation will be given voice, 7-9 pm (every Thursday).

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