abortion, discrimination, & eugenics

Topics: Abortion
15 Apr 1993


I was watching a show on PBS (perish the thought ;-) Monday night about
selective abortions based on various genetic tests for fatal or seriously
debilitating diseases. Some woman (who works with handicapped people)
from the German Green party said that such tests should be banned
because they are de facto discrimination against the handicapped,
i.e. to permit these tests is to agree that handicapped babies are less
desirable and therefore that handicapped adults are less equal.
There was some attempt to justify this point of view by showing some
of the old eugenicist propoganda tapes (both German and American)
and invoking the slippery slope argument.

Any comments? I'm asking this in particular to you two (R&N) because
the ghost of eugenics seems to haunt German thinking. Nobody in the
U.S. ever gives it much thought any more. I would hope you agree
with me that the woman from the Green's is being ridiculous. But
does she really believe it or is it just an overreaction in an attempt
to exorcise historical demons? I don't mean to address the abortion
question here. Let's just go with the assumption that it's legal.

For me, this is easy. Selective abortions are based on parental
choice. Eugenics is based on government coercion. The first,
though sometimes repugnant (e.g. sex selective), is tolerable.
The latter is outrageous regardless of the details. I realize that
most people don't share this point of view.