Whereas previously, a Down’s child could be born without the prior knowledge of the mother, going forward, a parent with a Down’s child will likely (at least in the developed world) have made a conscious choice to have that child.
Which is what makes the choice of the Palin clan so commendable. They knew in advance that they are bringing a “special needs child” into the world, and yet they were prepared to do what’s necessary to care for that child.
As prenatal testing for trisomy 21 becomes ubiquitous, Down’s children (and eventually those with other genetic disorders) will increasingly become symbols of faith – a freak show meant to communicate the “family values” of their parents. The children will become public sacrifices made by their parents for their faith. They will be a symbol of religious reverence in the same way as the scarred backs of Catholics who flagellate themselves, or Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire, or Sunni Muslims who mutilate their girl’s genitals or Shiites who bloody their children’s heads with swords.
That’s an argument from analogy minus the argument. Why should we concede that giving birth to a child with Down syndrome is analogous to your deliberately invidious comparisons?
Genuine moral virtues – such as integrity, honesty, and productivity are not useful as evidence of religious virtue. To the extent that their practical benefit is visible to everyone, they do not represent the special domain of religion.
You need to show, from the standpoint of secular ethics, why integrity, honesty, and productivity are genuine moral virtues. Given your devaluation of human life, why should a “genuine moral virtue” be practical or beneficial to human beings?
To demonstrate religious virtue, it is necessary to sacrifice authentic moral values in favor of “religious” values.
As a Christian, I don’t care about generic “religious” values. I only care about Christian values. And, in Christian theology, we are justified by faith, not by works.
The particular object of the sacrifice is not important – there is nothing particularly “biblical” about being prolife (the Christian bible just as easily supports the opposite position.)
That’s an assertion, not an argument.
If Christian fundamentalists decided that cutting of one’s hand sufficed as proof of moral virtue, they would be wrong to do so, but not much more so than the numerous other ways that people find to be self-destructive.
That’s another assertion without an argument. For someone who prides himself on being a rationalist, you’re short on reasons.
What is really vicious about fundamentalists in America is that the prey on the most vulnerable –poor pregnant young girls and women, those dying from painful terminal illnesses, the loved ones of brain-dead patients, — and children afflicted with terrible genetic illnesses.
You indulge in lots of emotive, moralistic rhetoric. You have yet to justify your value-judgments.
To make it look good, you try to camouflage your position in humanitarian verbiage, but there’s nothing intrinsically humanitarian about secular ethics. For example, Julian Savulescu, a secular bioethicist at Oxford, takes a ruthlessly utilitarian view of human life:
“One objection to embryonic stem (ES) cell research is that it 'cannibalizes' human beings, that is, kills some human beings to benefit others. I grant for argument's sake that the embryo is a person. Nonetheless, killing it may be justified. I show this through the Embryonic Stem Cell Lottery. Whether killing a person is justified depends on: (1) whether innocent people at risk of being killed for ES cell research also stand to benefit from the research and (2) whether their overall chances of living are higher in a world in which killing and ES cell research is conducted. I call this kind of killing 'risk reductive’.”
David Veksler is expendible. If you interfere with the common good, then we have a right to kill you.
Likewise, eugenics doesn’t stop with the elimination of genetic disorders. For example, another secular bioethicist by the name of James Hughes envisions a world in which “Technologically assisted birth, eventually involving artificial wombs, will free women from being necessary, vulnerable vessels for the next generation. Morphological freedom, the ability to change one’s body, including one’s abilities, weight, gender and racial characteristics, will reduce body-based oppressions (disability, fat, gender and race) to aesthetic prejudices.”
By eugenic standards, David Veksler is a throwback to the dark ages of the genetic lottery. But thanks to prenatal testing and genetic engineering, we can weed out the David Vekslers of the world and replace them with a genetically enhanced master race.
One can at least grasp the moral indifference with which a fundamentalist can force a single young mother to abandon her goals and dreams and condemn her and her child to poverty.
i) To begin with, you have a very sexist view of women. Don’t women know where babies come from? Wasn’t the woman in question engaged in consensual reproductive behavior?
And it won’t do to bring up cases of rape and incest since I hardly think that’s where you draw the line.
ii) You imply that the children of poor parents are condemned to a life of poverty. That’s an odd inference coming from the likes of you.
Didn’t your parents conceive you back in the bad old days when Ukraine was part of the Soviet empire? Why did they come to American? Because it’s the land of opportunity?
So, by your yardstick, it was immoral for your parents to conceive you. They didn’t’ know that they’d be able to immigrate to America and give you a better life. So, by your yardstick, they were condemning you to a life of poverty. By your yardstick, no one in the Soviet Union should have had any children—except for a few high-placed party-members in the Politburo. No parent, under that oppressive, communist regime, had a right to conceive a child. For that would ipso facto condemn the child to a life of poverty.
iii) Eugenics is no solution to poverty. It just transposes class warfare to a higher plane. It would create a two-tiered society of "GenRich" and "GenPoor,” genetically-enhanced "haves" and "have nots."
You could try to avert that scenario by universal access to genetic engineering, but that would require one of those socialist utopias that turns into the sort of socialist dystopia from which your parents escaped.
But what can we say about a parent that chooses a life of suffering upon their child?
Like millions of parents under Stalin or Brezhnev? You say you believe in individual rights, but you have a very selective view of individual rights. You say you believe in the “unconditional right to life,” but you, in fact, impose a quality of life condition on the “unconditional” right to life.
If we are morally outraged by child rapists, how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child?
What makes you think that Down syndrome entails a lifetime of suffering? Not from what I’ve read. The same medical science that makes prenatal testing possible can also enhance the lives of men and women with genetic disorders like Down syndrome:
“Today, individuals with Down syndrome are active participants in the educational, vocational, social and recreational aspects of our communities. In fact, there are more opportunities than ever before for individuals with Down syndrome to develop their abilities, discover their talents and realize their dreams. For example, more teens and adults with Down syndrome each year are graduating from high school, going to college, finding employment and living independently.”
“It is important to remember that while children and adults with Down syndrome experience developmental delays, they also have many talents and gifts and should be given the opportunity and encouragement to develop them.”
“Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate impairments but it is important to note that they are more like other children than they are different. Early Intervention services should be provided shortly after birth. These services should include physical, speech and developmental therapies. Most children attend their neighborhood schools, some in regular classes and others in special education classes. Some children have more significant needs and require a more specialized program.”
“Some high school graduates with Down syndrome participate in post-secondary education. Many adults with Down syndrome are capable of working in the community, but some require a more structured environment.”
“Most people with Down syndrome have IQ's that fall in the mild to moderate range of retardation. Some are so mildly affected that they live independently and are gainfully employed.”
“The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased substantially. In 1929, the average life span of a person with Down syndrome was nine years. Today, it is common for a person with Down syndrome to live to age fifty and beyond. In addition to living longer, people with Down syndrome are now living fuller, richer lives than ever before as family members and contributors to their community. Many people with Down syndrome form meaningful relationships and eventually marry. Now that people with Down syndrome are living longer, the needs of adults with Down syndrome are receiving greater attention. With assistance from family and caretakers, many adults with Down syndrome have developed the skills required to hold jobs and to live semi-independently.”
“While there is an increased risk for certain medical conditions compared to the general population, advances in medicine have rendered most of these health problems treatable and the majority of people born with Down syndrome today have a life expectancy of approximately 56 years.”
“Many children with Down syndrome have health complications beyond the usual childhood illnesses...However, with appropriate medical care most children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives. The average life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 55 years, with many living into their sixties and seventies.”