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From Darwin to Iceland: The Eugenic Solution to the ‘Undesirable’

Last August, there was a flurry of news and commentary over reports that “Iceland is close to becoming the first country where no-one gives birth to a child with [Down] syndrome.” We were told that “on average, just one or two children with [the] syndrome are born in Iceland each year.”

As it turns out, the main reason these one or two children are born at all is that the procedures for identifying Down syndrome in utero aren’t perfect. As the head of prenatal diagnosis at an Icelandic hospital told CBS, “Some of them were low risk in our screening test, so we didn’t find them in our screening.”

“Find them.” It makes it sound as if the children were hiding. Actually, if they knew what was going on outside of Mommy’s womb, they would have hidden. As a “counselor” told reporters, “We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication … preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”

Now, let’s cut the cant right now: I’ve known plenty of people with Down syndrome. It helps that my son is autistic and these folks are his schoolmates and co-workers. While their lives are often challenging and, in some instances, tragic, none of them appeared to be “suffering.”

As George Will wrote about his then-10-year-old-son, Jonathan, “He does not ‘suffer from’ Down syndrome. He suffers from nothing, except anxiety from the Orioles’ lousy start.”

No, what’s at work here isn’t “preventing suffering.” It’s eugenics.

 

Read more at The Stream. 

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