The Post had a well-intentioned but wrong-headed piece on pregnant women screening for Down syndrome. My first objection was that the author, the mother of an adult daughter with the condition, seems to be arguing that people should still be able to kill babies with Down syndrome, but shouldn’t want to — kind of like feminists now squirming because women in India and China are using their “right to choose” and choosing to kill girl babies.
But what really caught my attention was made explicit at the end, where the author says she’ll “keep hoping for genetic diversity.” Maybe she didn’t mean it this way, but this sounds an awful lot like what you hear from deaf activists about there being nothing wrong with the inability to hear, or fat rights militants claiming that obesity is just another lifestyle choice. Framing Down syndrome as simply a matter of “genetic diversity” makes it sound as innocuous as red hair, when in fact it (like deafness or obesity) is a bad thing, a disorder which in this case results in cognitive impairment, illness, infertility, and an early death. As Christians, we must hold all those created in God’s image as equal, and I would even endorse a preferential option for the disabled, especially the cognitively disabled. But as our knowledge of Creation continues to advance, we must seek to eliminate this disorder, not celebrate it.
I have a very tiny relation to this general issue. I can only see out of one eye, and while that hasn’t prevented me from doing anything except joining the service, it’s still a defect of sorts. There are even attempts to glorify that; Baruyr Sevag, a Soviet Armenian poet who also had only one eye, wrote a short poem called “The One-Eyed Man”:
I view life with one eye.
(My other eye is blind).
And with this one eye I see much,
But with the other I see more,
With the healthy eye I see,
But with the blind one … I am always dreaming …
Now, the guy was a poet, so he had an excuse, but really, two eyes are better than one, hearing is better than deafness, not having Down syndrome is better than having it.