The Washington Post deserves credit for running this thoughtful piece by Patricia E. Bauer, a journalist and mother of a disabled child who worries that we are seeking to eliminate the disabled by never permitting them to be born–all in the name of preventing suffering, of course. Bauer writes: “What I don’t understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value…And here’s one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what’s driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby; it’s also about a woman’s right to choose which baby she wants to have.”
I have noticed these attitudes increasing, too. As we tout the Special Olympics, we are wiping people with Down’s syndrome off the face of the planet, not only through eugenic abortion, but even including infanticide in the Netherlands and medical neglect of Down’s babies here in the States. Meanwhile, our futurists sigh in ecstasy at the thought “seizing control of human evolution” and making “better” babies enhanced for increased intelligence, beauty, or longevity. Yet, developmentally disabled people are some of the most “human” people I have ever met, most merely wanting to belong, contribute, love, and be loved. Somehow that point is lost on the Brave New Worlders, as is the very concept of unconditional love for children regardless of “characteristics.”
We are told by “transhumanists” and others that the future will be an individualist’s paradise, with all of us able to remake ourselves and our children into whatever form of life we choose. But the reverse seems true. As we claim to believe in diversity, in many ways we are actually well down the path to destroying it.