The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Momentous Issue

On the homepage, we have a piece by Alexandra DeSanctis about Down syndrome and abortion. I read it with a mixture of admiration and disgust: admiration for the piece; disgust at the casually eliminationist approach to babies (thus people) with Down syndrome.

If you don’t like “eliminationist,” “eugenic” will do.

Xan’s piece gave me a memory: of a long, searching, powerful piece on the same subject by Tucker Carlson, written when we both worked at The Weekly Standard. Here it is, from December 1996: “Eugenics, American Style.”

Tucker begins by quoting Joycelyn Elders, one of President Clinton’s surgeons general (and notorious). Dr. Elders spoke of abortion as a public-health boon, given that babies with Down syndrome and other defects were being aborted. Further, Tucker reports on the pressure faced by parents of unborn children who have been determined to have Down syndrome. The pressure is to abort.

I read the piece at the time of publication, of course, and did so with admiration and disgust. I have re-read it — and feel the same.

So, I commend to you these two pieces: Xan’s written on Wednesday, Tucker’s written more than 20 years ago. Each of them addresses a momentous issue, one that goes to the heart, really, of what it means to be human.

P.S. Earlier this year, I visited Down Home Ranch, in Texas. It was founded by friends of mine, and friends of National Review: Jerry and Judy Horton. It is a ranch for adults with Down syndrome, and one of the residents is their daughter Kelly. To read about the Hortons and the ranch, go here.