Exterminating Down Syndrome

Russ Rooney’s response to University of MN Professor David Perry’s article in The Nation supporting the killing of babies with Down syndrome.

The purpose, in my opinion, of an article written by David Perry is that he wants people to feel at ease killing cute kids with Down syndrome and other disabled children for eugenic reasons while they are still in the womb. Professor Perry, from the University of Minnesota, doesn’t use those exact words, probably because it sounds harsh and offensive. Abortion is actually more than harsh; it involves sacrificing the life of at least one nascent child.

Perry softens the tone of his article by using terms such as “pro-choice” and “reproductive rights.” He gives the reader the impression that we are helping the disabled by killing them. Perry writes, “The struggle for disability rights begins with the affirmation that no one gets to tell anyone else what to do with their body. That includes abortion.”

Does Perry think that when a neonatologist is performing surgery she is trying to fix the body of the mother? The body of the nascent child exists before birth. There isn’t some mysterious phenomenon that occurs during the birthing process that forms the body of the baby.

The professor seems to think that a woman should have the choice to terminate—or “kill”—her nascent child for any reason and at any time during her pregnancy. Why not allow every human being to have choices in life? Abortion on demand takes away all choices from our youngest brothers and sisters. That doesn’t sound “pro-choice.”

Perry associates “reproductive rights” with allowing one human being to take the life of another human being as long as the weaker human is completely dependent upon the stronger human. Why not be forthright and use the term abortion? My guess, once again, is that the word is too harsh and doesn’t sound as good as some type of right.

What many people don’t realize is that by aborting the mentally disabled, we lose a segment of our society that helps build bridges between people and shows us how we can love someone unconditionally. Research done by Dr. Brian Skotko, at Massachusetts General Hospital, has shown that fear of having a Down syndrome child is unwarranted:

• 99 percent of people with Down syndrome are happy.
• 97 percent of people with Down syndrome like their identity.
• 99 percent of parents love their child with Down syndrome.

To his credit, Professor Perry states correctly “with community and educational supports, people with Down syndrome live happy, inclusive, meaningful lives, and there’s data showing that having a sibling or child with Down syndrome strengthens overall familial bonds.”

What is puzzling to me is when people understand the importance of inclusiveness and then exhibit nasciphobia (fear of the very young). If there isn’t a fear of the youngest humans, then why take such drastic measures to remove them from our society?

If a nascent child isn’t human, then the mother isn’t pregnant. Perry appears to disregard the uniqueness of another human being for the purpose of eugenics. After reflection, I hope that he will reconsider his opinion and agree with one of the greatest humanitarians of the last century. ~ Albert Schweitzer.
Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Minnesota Abortion Statutes:

The principal pre-Roe statutes prohibited performance of an abortion upon a pregnant woman unless the procedure was “necessary to preserve her life, or that of the child with which she [was] pregnant,”1 and made a woman’s participation in her own abortion a criminal offense (subject to the same exception).2  Pursuant to Roe, § 617.18 was declared unconstitutional in a pair of decisions by the Minnesota

Supreme Court.3  Both § 617.18 and § 617.19 were repealed in 1974,4 and neither would be revived by a decision overruling Roe v. Wade.  Abortions could be performed for any reason before viability, and for virtually any reason after viability.5  Regardless of Roe, any attempt to prohibit abortion (at least before viability) in Minnesota, even if Roe were overruled, would be barred by a Minnesota Supreme Court decision recognizing a fundamental right to abortion on state constitutional grounds (privacy).6

1 MINN. STAT. ANN. § 617.18 (West 1971).

2 MINN. STAT. ANN. § 617.19 (West 1971).  No prosecutions were reported under this statute.

3 See State v. Hultgren, 204 N.W.2d 197 (Minn. 1973); State v. Hodgson, 204 N.W.2d 199 (Minn. 1973).  Prior to Roe, a three-judge federal district court dismissed a challenge to the principal pre-Roe statutes for want of a justiciable “case or controversy.”  Doe v. Randall, 314 F.Supp. 32, 34 (D. Minn. 1970).

4 1974 Minn. Laws 265, 268, ch. 177, § 7.

5 Because of its undefined health exception, Minnesota’s post-viability statute, see MINN. STAT. ANN. § 145.412 subd. 3 (West 1998), would not effectively prohibit post-viability abortions.   In interpreting the undefined health exception in the pre-Roe District of Columbia abortion statute, the Supreme Court held that “the general usage and modern understanding of the word ‘health’ . . . includes psychological as well as physical well-being.”  United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62, 72 (1971).  See also Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 192 (1973) (in determining whether an abortion is medically necessary, “all factors– physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant to the well-being of the patient” may be considered).  There would be few, if any, abortions that could not be justified on psychological or emotional grounds.

6 See Women of the State of Minnesota v. Gomez, 542 N.W.2d 17, 27 (Minn. 1995) (“the right of privacy under the Minnesota Constitution encompasses a woman’s right to decide to terminate her pregnancy”) (striking down restrictions on public funding of abortion).

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