Bioethicist Jacob M. Appel, who has written that mentally ill people should not be denied the “opportunities” to commit assisted suicide, now pushes mandatory pre-implatation genetic testing in all IVF fertility treatments in order to weed out the unfit (my term) and for whom care would be expensive. But don’t call it eugenics! From his column:
The most obvious advantage of mandatory screening is that it will reduce the long-term suffering of the children who are spared disease. At the same time, preventing future cancers will certainly save tax dollars. These savings could be redirected toward researching new therapies and providing quality care for current patients. The money might also help to defer the enormous public costs of fertility therapy, coverage for which a growing number of states now require of private insurance plans…While similar screening cannot realistically be imposed upon individuals conceiving “the old-fashioned way,” for obvious reasons of logistics and privacy, these invasive aspects of screening do not apply to IVF.
Opponents of mandatory screening will likely point out that such a rule significantly limits the reproductive autonomy of parents. This is certainly true. However, Western societies have long acknowledged that parental authority cannot undermine the medical interests of a child. Jehovah’s Witnesses may not deny their children blood transfusions; Christian Scientists cannot substitute prayer for life-saving antibiotics. As United States Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge wrote in the landmark case of Prince v. Massachusetts, “Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves, but it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children.”…
Such crass utilitarian utopianism is precisely what eugenics was all about. And its message is insidious: Those with expensive disabling conditions and diseases are a burden on society and you should not be allowed to be born–as a favor to you!
Then Appel makes a huge gaffe:
The fear expressed by many opponents of genetic screening, both elective and mandatory, is that our civilization is sliding down a slope toward selecting embryos for their skin complexion or their eye-color.
No, the won’t do that in the future. No way. They are doing it today!
If IVF can be coupled with mandatory PGD, then every pregnancy can be coupled with mandatory prenatal testing to be sure we weed out all children who are not optimal to the new eugenicists via abortion. Indeed, such mandatory pre natal testing is already being pushed.
And if all else fails, there is always infanticide, as is happening in the Netherlands, with support from some mainstream bioethicists.
Appel is a mainstream bioethicist who is a university professor and has been published in the Hastings Center Report with his call for assisted suicide for the mentally ill. And some bioethicists wonder why I am so worried about the direction in which the bioethics movement seems intent on taking us.
HT: Alice Hatch