Is the abortion argument changing?

boy with downs syndromeBy Marissa Poulson, Senior Web Writer

Suffering is not pleasant—most of us can agree on that. Suffering though, no matter how unpleasant, is something we all share. We all have moments of pain and sorrow to different degrees. One might say it’s a part of what makes us human and able to identify and sympathize with each other.

When I read recent comments by Richard Dawkins, vice president of the British Humanist Association, about the need to abort unborn children with Down syndrome to save them from suffering, I was stunned.

“The question is not ‘is it ‘human?’” Dawkins tweeted, “But ‘can it SUFFER?”

That’s a new one. If suffering is worthy of death, there must be quite a few people out there fearing for their lives right about now.

To his credit, Dawkins did highlight a very important point—that most Down syndrome babies are aborted by their parents. Back in 1997, Newsweek reported that approximately 90% of children with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are aborted. The writer called Down syndrome “completely preventable [in theory]” because the pregnancy could be terminated.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the whole idea of prenatal screening about providing life-saving options for mothers and their unborn children?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about her stressful experience with prenatal screening. Instead of celebrating her pregnancy, she was faced with statistics about genetic disorders and questions about what test results should lead her to consider an abortion. She was quite literally overwhelmed.

As prenatal screening becomes more powerful, refined, and part of routine prenatal care, and as gene therapy becomes more advanced, it may be time to start thinking about how far we as a society are willing to go. Do we really want a society of designer babies where everyone is the same and the world is completely empty of any differently-abled people (have you seen The Giver)?

Thankfully, the majority of responses to Dawkins’ reasoning are a combination of outrage and incredulity, but there are those who share his views. One Twitter user said “I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down syndrome. Real ethical dilemma.”

Dawkins advice?


To that I ask, how is it immoral to give life? Dawkins has certainly never experienced what it’s like to be a person with Down syndrome. How is he qualified to say they deserve death over having the chance to live their lives? What makes any of us qualified to assume someone isn’t worthy of life because of their perceived suffering?

Jerome Lejuene, a Downs researcher also known as the father of modern genetics once wrote,

“People say, ‘The price of genetic diseases is high. If these individuals could be eliminated early on, the savings would be enormous!’ It cannot be denied that the price of these diseases is high—in suffering for the individual and in burdens for society. Not to mention what parents suffer! But we can assign a value to that price: It is precisely what a society must pay to remain fully human.”

Too often, we as a society do not consider the consequences of our actions. We attempt to “reason” our way into justifying taking a life, but reasoning does not change reality.

In 2011, the American Journal of Medical Genetics published results of a study that showed that 99% of individuals with Down syndrome are happy with their lives. Are these happy individuals suffering? Are their lives not worth living?

I can only imagine which disease or different abilities we’ll start “preventing” next.

Take Action

As of January 2014, approximately 56,662,169 lives have been ended since Roe v. Wade.  Abortion isn’t healthcare and it’s definitely not preventative medicine. You can help us restore the culture in America to one that values life, that protects the innocent, and that respects that we are all created differently, by sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter, and educating others about the realities of abortion.  

Author: Alliance Defending Freedom