Are we in the midst of a real “Brave New World?” A news story in the Contra Costa Times should convince you.
The headline on Sept. 11, 2011, was benign enough: “Blood test detects Down syndrome in unborn babies.”
But then I read the article by Lisa M. Krieger, writing for the San Jose Mercury News. I felt as though I’d fallen headlong into Aldous Huxley’s worst predictions.
It was one of the most chilling “news stories” I’ve read and made more so by Krieger’s apparently deliberate choice not to clarify some of the claims of her “experts.”
If she and the people she interviewed had planned it, they couldn’t have done better if they were laying the groundwork for the Nazi super race.
Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look.
Remember, the core of the news story is that it won’t be long before a “simple” blood test will be able to tell “newly pregnant women” if they are carrying a child with Down syndrome.
According to Krieger, even though there are already tests to show such genetic defects, the new tests will make it “easier and earlier” to get the results “to help us decide the delicate question of what kind of babies we want.”
What kind of babies we want?!? Whoa.
Krieger quotes Stanford law professor Hank Greely – a specialist in the legal and ethical implication of emerging technologies – who says such tests “could lead to a greater reduction in the number of children born with genetic disease.”
Not only Down syndrome, he’s talking about potentially “hundreds of other congenital disorders.”
According to Krieger, experts say the day may come “when parents are spared the trauma of a baby who perishes at birth – or faces a life filled with pain or profound disability.”
Interesting, isn’t it, the concern is for the trauma to the parents and not for the trauma the unborn will suffer?
And, she opens the door to the possibility of prenatal tests for cancer, Alzheimer’s and even depression.
Krieger quotes Sharon Terry, director of the D.C. based nonprofit Generic Alliance.
“And there are many women who want to make their choices early in a pregnancy if there is a potential problem.”
Pity, the child has no choice at all.
She then quotes Martha Hogan, who counsels women at the Down Syndrome Connection, in Danville, Calif.
After Hogan, who has a Down syndrome son, waxes poetic about “these adorable people,” she says this:
“Some women, carrying a piece of tissue that they haven’t bonded with yet, might let the baby go. It looks like just a blip on a screen. In that case, an earlier test is good, because you’re not killing a live baby with a heartbeat and limbs.”
In what world does this woman live?
Note her choice of words – “carrying a piece of tissue,” “let the baby go,” “blip on a screen,” “not killing a live baby with a heartbeat and limbs.”
I thought we stopped calling the developing fetus a “piece of tissue” decades ago, because we know it’s much more than that.
Just how long does it take to “bond” with that “tissue”?
What does she mean, “let the baby go”? I thought she just said it was a piece of tissue? But if it’s a baby. How do you let it go?
Guess. But she never says the “A” word.
As for the “blip on the screen,” any doctor worth his salt knows exactly what that blip is. For Martha Hogan to so cavalierly dismiss it, is not only shameful, it’s deceitful.
“Not killing a live baby with a heartbeat and limbs” – really? What is it, killing a dead baby? Or, killing that piece of tissue?
Why doesn’t she tell her clients that early blood circulation begins less than two weeks after conception, the heart begins beating 18-21 days after conception and fingers are present at eight weeks?
This woman counsels others about life-changing decisions with no mention of the woman’s actual “choice”: abortion, the forcible removal of a developing fetus from the mother’s womb, which effectively stops the development – in other words, killing it.
Then there’s the money angle. Biotech companies are developing the tests, and the number of maladies they’ll detect will continue to increase.
It’s said the potential market for such tests is huge – 4.5 million births a year in this country, three-quarter million are “high risk.” If more and more women are convinced to use such genetic testing, the decisions to “let the baby go” will become more frequent.
Dr. Brian Skotko, with the Down Syndrome Program at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, says nearly all pregnant women will use the new test, fewer will seek counseling, likely there’ll be more elective abortions and this may be the last generation of Down syndrome.
Dr. Skotko is the only person in the report to use the A-word.
What happens if insurance companies refuse to cover handicapped children? Or, what if public support for such children is cut? Or, there’s no push for development of cures? Who knows?
But the most chilling statements were from Sharon Terry:
“Now is the time to ask. Are there certain conditions that should be selected out of the mainstream of humanity? What kind of diversity and disability are we comfortable with?”
Ah yes, let’s consider our “comfort.”
Hitler, Goering, Himmler, Mengele, Eichmann and the boys couldn’t have said it better.