Abortion and Eugenics

Eugenics still exists. There’s no nice or PC way to say this, but we abort our imperfects now.

JP Morgan, a rich bastard everybody hated and for good reason, was drug up before the Senate for whatever. A flak for the Ringling-Barnum circus stuck a midget in his lap as a PR stunt.

Lya Graf didn’t like the world spotlight, retired back to Germany. She was decreed a “useless person” by the Nazi state, arrested in 1937, sent to Auschwitz in 1941. The rest is obvious.

In the 21st century, we tend to make sure that such persons are never born in the first place. This is progress.


At the request of Christopher Carr and Brother Rufus—and spurred by some of the thought-provoking comments, I did think there was interest in discussing this further.

Eugenics, of course, was one of the first very big and very lousy ideas of post-Darwin modernity. When man came down from his self-built pedestal and became just another animal, there seemed no logical or scientific reason why he couldn’t breed himself into something more perfect: smarter, stronger, more beautiful. This also meant that some individuals or groups were considered better breeding stock than others—and it made sense to breed more of the better and less of the worse.

We look back with disgust on the 1927 Supreme Court forced-sterilization case Buck v. Bell, where Oliver Wendell Holmes infamously ruled that “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” that

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

Nazism took these modern ideas to the absurd extreme, a self-anointed “master race,” and suppression and extermination of the lesser ones. Lya Graf wasn’t only a midget, she was half-Jewish, born Lia Schwartz. She had no chance.

We are properly revolted at Nazi eugenics, and we are agreed, Never Again.

But as Brother Rufus pointed out, in the Western world, we now routinely abort over 90% of Down Syndrome pregnancies. In the UK, where abortions are more restricted than in the US, spina bifida, cleft palate and club feet are still reasonable grounds for abortion.

And in the developing world, in India and particularly China, pregnancies are aborted for gender selection: in China, so much so that among those under 20, there are now 123 boys for every 100 girls [the natural ratio is 106 to 100].

The Western world is largely appalled. However, under our own rightstalk, abortion is a “choice,” but as we see, it’s only a legitimate and allowable choice if “we” agree with the reasons.

An interesting play of some years back was called “Twilight of the Golds.” In some not-distant future the “gay gene” has been identified [it has not been, so far], and a family is faced with the choice whether to abort.

“Choice” was seen as a solution to our legal and moral conundrum, as if it’s the last word on the subject. But all it has done is mask the dilemma—we have not yet begun to think about the question at all, we’ve simply buried it under a single facile word. We remain moral imbeciles.

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past contributor to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.


  1. This post, like the comment that launched it, is both excellent and powerful – and is making me question some deeply held beliefs.

  2. Minor quibble: Midgets aren’t aborted–that condition (actually, multiple conditions causing lack of growth) is usually curable through growth hormone supplements. (I’m open to correction on this, though.) That’s neither here nor there with regard to your actual point, of course.

    The question I’d pose is whether it matters that in the contemporary U.S. the eugenic selection is parental choice rather than public policy? I think the answer would depend on one’s starting assumptions.

    • A fair quibble. I didn’t get into the fine point of whether Lya Graf was a dwarf or a “midget.” [Accounts vary.] Dwarfism is frequently aborted.

      A fascinating small movie called “Tiptoes.” Matthew McConaughey is the only normal-sized person in a family full of dwarves, and his girlfriend is pregnant with his baby, which of course carries the genetic chance of dwarfism. Gary Oldman plays his brother, a dwarf. Many reviewers didn’t buy any of it. I did.

      • Yes, dwarfism is different. I can see people aborting on that basis, although I have no idea what the numbers are.

        And thanks for the movie tip. I rate Gary Oldman as the greatest movie actor ever, bar none. Nobody is as versatile as he; from Sid Vicious to Dracula to Zorg to Sirius Black, no other actor has ever been so much the character and so little himself (contrast, for example, to the unfathomably believed Jack Nicholson, who has played but one character, himself, in countless movies). If Gary Oldman has played a dwarf, he has surely set the standard for real dwarfs.

          • Well Dinklage would steal the movie. In Game of Thrones he achieved what I thought was impossible – making Tyrion even better than he was in the book.

        • “…the unfathomably believed Jack Nicholson, who has played but one character, himself, in countless movies).”

          Dr. Hanley, yes, Yes, YES!!! Those identical and predictable vocal intonations and crescendos are maddening. He is, was, and shall always be, “Wilbur Force” (or maybe, “George Hanson”?)

          I like him, but you always know you’re going to get and what’s coming–he’s a very, very overrated actor, I think.

          • If I may offer one more comment on this subject, I think it can be very strongly argued that genocide against the Jewish race continues to this very day.

            There can be no question that in several, if not all Arab countries, it is taught and believed that Jews are sub-human. Or to use the Nazi term, “Unter-Menschen”-lower than man(kind.)

            Since their first day of independence in 1948, and the war that began the day after, they have were systematically expelled from their homes in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Algeria.

            There remain less than 100 in Egypt, about the same in Iraq. None at all in Libya, Algeria, the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Sudan. Of course in the non-Arab countries, almost no Jews at all live those countries.

            Compare that with over 1,600,000 Arabs living in that tiny sliver of land called, Israel. They have every civil and legal right a Jew has except the right to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

            Funny thing–I hear about Palestinian “refugees” just about every day but I’ve never heard about “Jewish refugees.”

            As I said, Jewish genocide is alive and well in Arab countries if only in their minds. The effect and result is the same.

          • Mr. Heidegger, I’ll let your comments stand, but I do not think that Arab/Muslim hostility to Jews/Israel fits here under the eugenics umbrella atall. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem allied with Hitlerism, but that was a marriage of convenience.

            Any Jew is free to convert to Islam and has always been welcomed with open arms. Such freedom was not accorded to Jews by Nazism.

        • But Nicholson is so great at playing himself in those different roles. I like Oldman. I still think Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are better.

  3. There are a lot of things one might do with a loaded gun, choices one might make. The same is true of a loaded oil tanker.

    Different people might find different choices more or less laudable, understandable, forgivable, morally reprehensible, for different reasons, at different times, and under different circumstance.

    I do not find that abortion shows human beings and the choices they make in an especially bad light, or an especially good light.

  4. Last line of the post along with reference to Buck couldn’t be better. Artful, even.

  5. Eugenics was a movement based on trying to improve the genetic stock of a ethnic group. While individuals certainly choose to abort a child with a serious problem like Down’s, there is no movement to perfect a race or eliminate certain types. Using the term eugenics is inflammatory at least and less then honest. It is so very very easy to smear the deeply personal and painful decision to abort a child who would be born with massive, possibly completely debilitating problems and tar them as practicing something as terrible as eugenics. So very easy to do that, its some other things but i wouldn’t want to be discourteous.

    • Eugenics is also an idea, if not an empirical fact, that the rest of us are better off without some of us. Taken to the extreme, vice versa.

      We take as a given and as common starting ground that we are disgusted and revolted at eugenics per Holmes and Hitler as state policy, per the OP. That’s a start.

      And your demurral was courteous, Mr. Gregniak, for which this little corner of the LoOG is grateful. It is stipulated that Down Syndrome is “debilitating.” When such pregnancies are terminated, however, it must be asked, cui bono.

      • There is no movement in the US to get rid of certain types of people to improve the race. There is no state policy or group pushing to get rid of some people. Abortion is , although you may hate the word and concept, an individual choice. There is no “get rid of your child to make the US a better place.” Take anything to the extreme and you can prove anything. Eugnics is a inflamtory word to push the discussion in the direction you want. You are ascribing motives to people that don’t exist, especially people who have had to make the decision in question.

        • Greg, at least with regards to the subject of this discussion you hardly need the state to achieve the same affect.

          They’re hardly going to make a proclamation that African-American mothers with IQs below 90 will not be allowed to have more than one child, preferably, none.

          If I’m not mistaken, Obama’s Science Czar, John Holdren, was very supportive and advocated for forced sterilization and forced abortions to “save the planet.” I guess that would qualify as environmental eugenics to the extreme. Probably even have Ed Begley Jr. and other envirowackos doing somersaults with joy down the streets. No doubt their concentration camps would be 99% filled with Conservatives!

          • No that would not count as eugenics. Eugenics is what Greg says it is, and the problem that the word is being misused here remains unaddressed. He’s right.

          • The extermination of Lya Graf wasn’t eugenics? Very well, call it what you want; the point remains the same.

          • Brett,
            Hallelujah!! I have just come up with a solution to the abortion “problem”. (Yes, obviously, only one half of the interested parties have a “problem” with abortion–I’ll give you a clue: they can’t yet yell, “listen God dammit, I have just as much right to watch a beatific sunrise and sunset as you do. I’m not part of your damn body-I am a full, genetically complete human being as any human being who has existed and you can tell Harry Blackmun to bite it. Now get me the hell out of here so I can meet Robert Bork and thank him for his tireless support. We unborns just LOVE the guy. And for that matter we LOVE LIFE!!”

            Okay here’s the solution. I am going to make the longest movie ever made. I am going to film the life and journey of a zygote from being a one-celled entity until the moment of birth–every second of it–all 6,600 hours of it. And, the challenge of it will rest on, “well he/she is now human. A second ago, not human.” Case closed, gentlemen. Your arguments just evaporated into thin air–just like your “constitutional” right to privately steal the life of an unborn human being. I know Blackmun did his very best with his speech to pretty much say, “okay–I’m giving you all a clean slate now. You can kill the little bastards and still get a good nights sleep. I even invented the phoniest defense of it in the entire history of the Supreme Court. For a 120 years no one ever noticed the 14th Amendment explicitly said “right to privacy” means “right to murder.” Sleep tight.

          • Jeff, you forgot to mention that Rush’s mother was forced to eat dog food because of the meanie Repubs budget that would make seniors have to choose between medicine and Alpo. This cold-hearted, brazen man even had the nerve to rub it in, and bought her a new, electric can opener.

            Oh, they also want to starve children. By the way, does anyone know of one, single child in the United States who has starved to death in the last 30 years.

            And for that matter, does anyone know of one innocent man who has been executed in the United States in the last 70 years? Imagine if the airlines had the same record as the institutional legal apparatus that administers capital punishment. Thousands and thousands of innocent people die in plane crashes–why is there no uproar over innocent people getting killed in planes, but frying ole serial killer Ted Bundy and all hell breaks loose–you get the usual motley, Lefties, nuns, peaceniks, burnt out hippies, yippies, Diggers, washed-up beatniks, all the usual ne’er-do-wells, crying crocodile tears because you can’t bring an executed man back to life once they’ve been executed. Well, no shit—that’s the whole damn point!

            It’s often stated, understandably and justifiably, that just imagine all the Rubinsteins, Mahlers, Einsteins, Bernsteins, Horowitzes, etc. that went up in smoke in those Nazi crematoriums. Why is never postulated that the same thing has happened with 20,000,000 aborted black babies since Roe? Imagine all those lost brains and talents going off into the cosmic ether, as well.

        • greginak – For it to be called eugenics, it does not require the state to implement it. Any segment of the population that suffers 90%+ pre-birth extermination rates due to choice (such as Down Syndrome) is clearly eugenics. Why are Down Syndrome people disappearing from amongst us? Rates of DS abortions are astronomically high, far outstripping abortion rates due to poverty, gender, or every other factor. Increasingly simple and cheap availability of prenatal testing and genetic screening is leading to this “soft eugenics” in all Western nations. What exactly is the “risk” of Down Syndrome constantly referred to in screening of “high-risk” pregnancies? Incorrect information, prejudice, irrational fear spread by medical professionals, and the quiet return of eugenics is not coming, it is here already.

          • Bravo, Brett!

            Well said, sir. A few days ago, the idea of a “gay gene” and what the subsequent consequences would be, came up and I
            said obviously, the people who would be aborting homosexual fetuses, would be liberals and libertarians not the Evangelicals or Conservatives. Pro life is pro-life. I’ve never heard Evangelicals ever express any exceptions to their firmly help beliefs regarding abortion, regardless of the sexual orientation of the fetus. There is something particularly sweet and almost painfully ironic about the idea of Evangelicals welcoming, with open arms, a gay fetus and Liberals making the inevitable decision to abort gay fetuses. Lefties have a congenital tendency to be miserable human beings and think of the human race as somewhat of a plague on Nature. Just look at the Bamster’s choice of science czar–John Holdren–a wacko who strongly supported forced sterilization and forced abortions. He even wrote a book on it–
            “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,”.
            He lays it all out for everyone to see. Pretty much like Hitler in Mein Kampf and his solution to the “Jewish problem”.

            And we don’t even need to get into one of the Lefty gods, Paul Ehrlich. Like those Japanese soldiers still hiding out in remote islands in the Pacific thinking WW2 is still going on, Ehrlich is living in 2 mile deep underground tunnels with his wife and surviving on Tang, dog food, and powdered milk. He’s firmly convinced all six billion of us have already starved to death and the temperature never gets warmer than -25 degrees.

            I really don’t know how anyone could look at left-wing ideology and not hear the Wessel Lied and see goose-stepping totalitarians marching the human race to another one of their failed Utopian isms. Check out the footage below–complete with all the Wagnerian pageantry and pagan symbols, Hitler just had to think he was performing in, and conducting the Ring.


            p.s. One last thing on the abortion/eugenics issue. Everyone of us has begun as a one celled zygote with all the chromosomes necessary to be a complete human being–the only difference between a one-celled zygote and a trillion-celled nine month old fetus is the maturation and full expression of the genetic material-the 22 pairs of chromosomes and the two sex cells–we are all we are going to be at the moment of fertilization. It is a biological impossibility to chop up this species-specific pattern of cell development and division into human and non-human states of existence.

        • In the 1982 case of Turpin v. Sortini, California’s Supreme Court, under Jerry Brown’s appointee to the Chief Justiceship, Rose Bird, held for the first time by any court in the nation that a plaintiff can sue for being born. If a doctor doesn’t spot a genetic defect that, if detected, might have caused the parents to abort the future plaintiff, the doctor may be held liable for “wrongful life.” This decision is a thinly veiled inducement to California’s doctors and hospitals to shift their policies toward recommending aborting unborn babies with disabilities. It also incentivizes doctors to err in favor of making false-positive diagnoses to this end.

          Deny this is part of any “movement,” if you like. It is hardly “inflammatory” to say that it is.

          • Tim, so great to hear you weigh in on this subject! And your story is so head-scratchingly incredible–many thanks. This beats all the crazy lawsuits ever filed. I thought the prison inmate took the cake, but this—“wrongful” life?–I just got off the phone with Geoffrey Fieger and sure enough, he’ll be serving my parents with a $50 million dollar lawsuit for letting me be born. I can also sue them for letting me born under the zodiac sign of Sagittarius as the percentages of children born under that sign have a greater chance of having attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

            Oh, about the prisoner lawsuit. A few years ago a prison inmate, while in the process of stabbing a prison guard, had the most unfortunate luck a would-be murderer/escapee could ever have– the knife broke off from the handle, and the blade ended up going through the palm of his hand causing extensive nerve damage.

            It goes without saying, that I made substantial contributions to his defense fund–as a matter of fact, what I had left after the money I donated to have Mumia freed, I gave to this fellow.

            Where’s Bill Kunstler when you need him? And for that matter, whatever happened to Lynne Stewart?

            I mean, come on, Lynne Stewart? In this “police state” we all live in, if a lawyer can’t give specific, material information to terrorists from one of their clients about future operations that would kill Americans, then what can they do?

            I can only hope that the 72 virgins the terrorist “martyrs” are greeted with in Hell are as grotesquely ugly as Ms. Stewart.

          • Ah, spontaneous order eugenics. Hmm, very interesting, Christopher.

            I’ve always been amazed and perplexed about this concept. On the one hand, I’ve can never recall a situation in which order doesn’t always, eventually, emerge from chaos. Could this be one of those universal constants? Or just part of the yin-yang, quantum nature of everything that exists–a constant and continuing rhythm between order and chaos, where one always and inevitably, replaces the other. Unlike Hawking, I don’t see any big Hoovers out there as in, cosmic vacuums that spin this universe out of nothingness and return it to nothingness. To exist always is greater and more complex than to not exist. Say what you want about God, but He sure ain’t some dullard simpleton. A universe absent God is not within the powers of human imagination. Nothingness always needs and implies an observer. If you want to be an atheist, great–go ahead, make my day. But you’ll have to find another universe. And you, Hawking out there–your nothingness depends on gravity–since when did gravity get shoved to the cosmological back burner of the Four Forces? From a gravitational point of view, is there any difference between being stuck in a runaway elevator heading south or north at 1000mph and the force of gravity?

            Christopher, you should be warned–conversing with me could constitute guilt by association. I am toxic waste at the League. I am now banned from all sites at this joint–Jaybird, Tod, Ryan, Saunders, even Burt’s threads which really threw me for a loop, Kain, Thompson, Pascal, Elias, I’m probably missing a few but you get the idea. Yes, I’m at the bottom of the Libertarian Totem Pole, the Libertarian Caste System. That’s what happens if you stray too far away from the Libertarian Reservation, which makes me even more grateful to Tom and Tim for letting me participate in their threads and conversations. Thanks, gentlemen.

            And what a beautiful, beautiful post of yours! Truly an inspiring, courageous story. I didn’t mean to suggest that 90% of Down Syndrome babies would need around the clock care. There were severe cardiac complications–reversed arteries among them and they said he’d never be able to walk, talk, feed himself-he would be for the most part a vegetatively retarded child. And they were being generous with the 90% certainty of his need for around the clock care.

            Dammit, I have a big mouth. Last thing, just yesterday, I reserved 25 deluxe penthouse suites for everyone at the League, high class hookers and “masseuses” included. My dime, too. And guess what happened? I get served an order from the Nevada State Police that if I’m within 100 miles of Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend they orders to shoot-to kill–and who do you think signed off on this restraining order?–Professor James Hanley!!

            All the best, Christopher H.

            p.s. I do hope you can take a joke, Professor.


  6. There’s an extreme at each end of this.

    Take choice far enough, and you end up with designer children in wealthy countries & the glut of boys documented in poorer countries. That much is obvious. Take the opposite tack far enough though, and you get babies born with severe enough defects as to amount to being born to suffer and die. It could take years of not being able to function beyond breathing, or it could be a few weeks or days imposing the pain of witnessing helpless suffering in place of what is supposed to be happiness of new life.

    The choice extreme takes cold rational calculation — or in the case of the wealthier, frivolous cosmetic preference — and literally weighs life and death by it. The life extreme, on the other hand, elevates birth above what it means to live, no matter how cruel the individual experience. I can’t help but question the psychological health of a society that embraces either.

    • Fascinating post, particularly your comment about elevating birth above what it means to live… Profound.

      I don’t think comparing something like Judaism and Downs is really apples-to-apples. Can anyone really say that it is objectively better or worse to be Jewish or Christian or Atheist or Muslim or Pastafarian? Can anyone make a reasonable case that it is NOT objectively worsmto have Downs than not to have Downs? Trying to eradicate the worldof Downs is far different than trying to eradicate the world of Judaism. Now, trying to eradicate Downs is very different than trying to eliminate peoplem with Downs. Few (no one?) would object to a cure for Down syndrome that had zero side effects. Many would rightfully object to an “eradication method” (I struggle to call this a “cure”) that involved killing everyone with Downs. (Please note that this line of thinking works better with a genetic, hereditary disease, which I believe Downs is not; but I’m no expert on this stuff and I’m working off an iPad which I am woefully bad at so make whatever adjustments necessary to make this line of thought mean what I want it to mean.)

      I’m not really offering any answers or rebuttals here… Just some more thoughts to throw into the mix. I suppose I would agree with an above poster and say I think it is prett clear that the methods of abortin being described here do not fit any definition of eugenics commonly held. That being said, that also does not mean that the moral outrage of what is actually happening ought to be less.

      One last question: should our consideration of the morality of the act be dependent on circumstance? Must we consider the poor Indian woman with little ability to provide for a healthy child let alone a child with needs in the same way that we consider a wealthy American selecting for hair color? I hope not, but does that strayntoo far into relatavism?

  7. Greg, as if they need Down’s Syndrome as an excuse–they’ll suck the brains out of a perfectly healthy baby FIVE MINUTES before birth. “there is no movement to perfect a race or eliminate certain types.” Ha Ha. How about an entire gender, like females in China. I never hear you or the other “pro-choicers” or the bellicose NOW herd raise a peep about that.

    By the way, read about what they did to completely healthy retarded adults at the Fernald State School in Massachusetts.

    The docs told my pregnant sister that the chances were over 90% that her son would be severely, vegetatively, retarded and need 24-hour a day care for his entire life. He is now a structural engineer with 0ne of the biggest construction companies in the US and in the process of building one of the largest hydroelectric facilities in the US.

    • Tom, I forgot to applaud you for a terrifically and thoughtfully written post. It’s very well done especially with such a difficult subject as this.


    • “Of course in the non-Arab countries, almost no Jews at all live those countries.”

      In the above comments I obviously meant, non-Arab MUSLIM countries-Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran.


      • Mr. Heidegger, the more troublesome idea is that if the “gay gene” were discovered—per “Twilight of the Golds”—that “choice” would be OK with terminating such a pregnancy.

        This discussion isn’t about the Jews except in passing re Nazism, and not atall about the Muslim world and the current situation. And based on my own studies of Islam, I think you’re completely wrong that a Jew converting to Islam would not be welcomed. As an evangelical religion, converting a Jew would justify the entire point of Islam, that the other two Abrahamic religions are good, but in error.

        But enough about Jews and Muslims, OK? This ain’t about that, not in the least. Pls discontinue this line. I’ve already nuked a couple of yr comments, and the thread reads smoothly without them, as if they were never there in the first place.

        • Fine, Tom. It’s a New Year. We have a disagreement and I truly wish you were correct.

          My resolution for 2012—STAY ON TOPIC! And HARMONY!

          All the best to ya, my friend. Heidegger

          p.s. Hope I get to hear your band sometime in 2012–it would a pleasure and honor!

          • Tom and Tim, sorry, this is a bit off-topic, but was wondering if you’d like to join me another sub-blog at the joint–sketched a bit over there, but naturally my subversive thoughts got shredded in the cosmic dumpster–here’s my brief outline:

            Gentlemen, I am inexpressibly overjoyed at the honor you have bestowed upon me allowing me to create my own sub-blog, “Music and the necessity of madness/insanity as an evolutionary instrument to grow the human brain.”

            As you all know, several brain structures have been identified as playing important roles in processing sounds, harmony, pitch, timbre, and rhythm. Although their exists no “Grand Central Musical Station” in the brain, it is clear that the right side of the cortex is responsible for the processing of rhythm, melody, harmony, and timbre.

            The left side of the brain is mostly involved in processing lightening fast changes in frequency and musical intensity in both speech an music.

            However, when it comes to rhythm–“wipe out”, both brain hemispheres are intensely involved in the total perception of rhythm. Believe me, that saying, “be careful–one slip of the scalpel, and there goes 10 years of piano lessons” could not be more on the mark.

            It is becoming more evident that the prefrontal cortex is also important in regards to the perception of rhythm but more importantly, is hugely involved in the perception of melody and the concomitant emotional response to all aspects of music.

            The interaction of both hemispheres of the brain are vital to the perception music, both emotional and motor, which explains why it’s almost impossible to sit still when music is playing. I have provided two examples of pianists who strongly demonstrate this very point.

            I posit that absent music and dance and the extraordinary evolution of the human hand, we’d still be living in caves and mud huts watching QVC 24 hours a day buying Flinstone cars, bowling balls, and clothing with murder being the number one cause of all human death.

            I invite all of you to leave your cramped, Terra firma, prosaic, three-dimensional universe and enter the true Kingdom of God. The Zone of the timeless now wherein lies all that exists, ever has existed and shall for evermore exist. It’s all here. No one has gone away…remember, the same human eye that sees God, is the same eye that God sees man. REJOICE!!

            Verzweiflung, Wut und Schrecken
            Begleiten ihren Sturz,
            Und eine neue Welt
            Entspringt auf Gottes Wort.



        • the more troublesome idea is that if the “gay gene” were discovered—per “Twilight of the Golds”—that “choice” would be OK with terminating such a pregnancy.

          That’d be quite the conundrum for the religiously fundamentalist mother, no?

          • It has always been something I and my compatriots in gay circles have agreed. There is a race of sorts between gays and science. If homosexuals can reduce their status in the collective ID of society to nothing more objectionable than red headedness or left handedness before a gay gene or prenatal indicator is identified then we survive. If science beats us to the punch and identifies the “gay gene” before society has changed than all indications are we may well go the way of downs syndrome babies.

            Though I take considerable pride in my own experience that whatever the forum or group I’ve discussed it with no one has suggested that we should ban abortion over it. That jives with my own opinions, I’ll not be enslaving my Mother, sisters, aunts and nieces just because I might disagree with what they do with their freedom in the future.

          • Your last statement sums up my general view on things: tolerating folks using their freedom in a way I find objectionable is the cost of doing business in a free society.

          • Mr. Hanley – My common thought on this subject of abortion by religiously fundamentalist mother following prenatal diagnosis of a “gay gene”:

            There is no conundrum here, and hints at the main issue that many of us in pro-life camp have with many those in the pro-choice camp: lack of sincere, deep, abiding, humble belief in God as creator is literally destroying our society from within (forget about the Muslims). Pro-life is not one of the issues in any political campaign and ongoing discourse, it is very nearly the only issue.

            Tax me, regulate me, search me, stare at my buttocks before allowing me to board a plane, even call two men committing to each the same as what my wife and I did, etc. etc. etc. I will find a way to feed my family, and get along with my homosexual neighbors just fine. But kill millions of unborn babies each year (the “normal” ones and the “unwanteds”), and we have indeed got a real, lasting problem.

            You see, religiously fundamental mothers value LIFE of the innocent, unborn child – created in His image – over all else (and certainly over the rapist murderers on death row). No conundrum here – not even an iota of a drop of a thought of one.

          • Brett,
            Thanks for your honest and genuine accounting of the fundamentalist perspective. My question to you is what do you make of fundamentalists who legitimately believe tha homsexuality is a sin worthy of death? They may not represent the norm, but such people do exist. Would you consider them to not to be true fundamentalists, in which case we run into a No True Scotsman situation?

          • Being a Scotsman is pretty cool. I wish I were a Scotsman. Kilts and scotch and nice, cold weather, and delicious Belhaven Ale. In fact, I would gather there are lots of people out there who pretend to be Scotsmen even though they aren’t. Like this wedding I worked at. Everyone wore kilts. This was in Boston, so there had to have been a whole lot of people pretending to be Scotsmen who definitely weren’t Scotsmen.

          • BSK,
            I didn’t intend to represent the fundamentalist viewpoint here, as I don’t consider myself one, but re-reading my comment, it was a little overly bombastic and perhaps “fundamentalish” sounding.

            Re fundamentalists who truly believe that homosexuality is a sin worthy of death – other than the Taliban, I can’t think of any, certainly not any Christians or other groups in the Western world that I’m aware of. If there are some out there, they can be easily discounted and ignored because they are miniscule and without voice or support, as opposed to entire Western governments that are now requiring early prenatal screening for DS (and other genetic abnormalities). There is only one reason for requiring early genetic screening – it starts with “Eu” and ends with “ics.”

  8. And may I wish all of you, friend and foe alike (no foes from these eyes!) a most healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year!

    All of ya, Chris, Dr. Saunders, Tom, yes, Blaise!, the inestimable and always Zenfully funny, Jaybird (I laughed for days over the “braindroppings quip!), Rufus, Jason, MarkT, Mark Boggs, the irrepressible Robert Cheeks, BSK, Dr. Hanley–a truly great teacher!, Triumph Bonneville, Greg, Matty, Pat, Tod, a great and kind gentleman, Elias, and Burt–you are such a beautiful writer–how I love to read your words–the Cases are just brilliant and your recent, timeless, meanderings were wonderfully poetic!—sorry if I’m forgetting anyone–I know I’m way past forgiveness or redemption, probably banned from 99% of this site, and I know I go off on occasional incoherent tangents and tirades and for that, my apologies. I’ve taken one philosophy class in my life and the most important thing I learned was that everything one can and needs to learn about Life and Love and Beauty is contained in its entirety in Nature and Music. My sincere thanks–you’ve all been great teachers–thanks for your patience and gentlemanly graciousness. May you and your families and loved ones all have long, healthy and happy lives! You’re the greatest! H

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

    To see a world in a grain of sand
    And a heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
    And eternity in an hour.

    For Mercy has a human heart;
    Pity, a human face;
    And Love, the human form divine:
    And Peace the human dress.

    Then every man, of every clime,
    That prays in his distress,
    Prays to the human form divine:
    Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

    And all must love the human form,
    In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
    Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
    There God is dwelling too.

    William Blake


  9. I hope you don’t consider this too much of a tangent. If so, I humbly apologize, but…

    It seems to me that the primary difference between eugenics as popularly conceived (an attempt by society to rid itself of the “undesirables”) and the eugenics you refer to (an attempt by a mother or a family not to take on the responsibility for an undesirable) is not insignificant.

    It does raise a question, though. If we increasingly take on children and everybody, including the least among us, as a social responsibility born by all, does that therefore justify societal intrusion into what might otherwise be family choices.

    I mean, it’s great that Sarah Palin chose to keep the child, but the state of Alaska will be footing the bill for a lot of her education. And we will be (or should be) devoting resources to making sure that the baby lives as respectable a life as possible. So, when you think about it a slightly different way, was it perhaps selfish of her to have that child? You know, at our expense and all?

    This isn’t a particularly convincing anti-abortion argument (unless we’re arguing against forced abortions, which nobody is seriously arguing for). But it does, in my opinion, raise some uncomfortable questions. The notion of society looking at those who choose not to abort as having made a selfish decision at our expense because the child isn’t the sort that we think society needs more of.

    • A similar argument is made against assisted suicide — does the availability of the option lead to pressure to exercise it? It’s plausible in either case, but re abortion, that prospect seems pretty distant. Abortion has been legal for decades and I don’t recall having ever heard anyone express such an idea (though no doubt some people think it). If I had that opinion, I wouldn’t feel comfortable voicing it to anyone I didn’t know really well.

      • I don’t know if it will or would or could happen or not, but I don’t know if it will or would or could happen or not, but while abortion certainly isn’t something new, but our ability to more easily and accurately predict disorders is more new.

    • Will,

      I saw asimolar phenomenon play out in a school I worked in. While we were not a special needs school, we were more accepting of kids with learning needs ansd differences than most privates. My division headin particular had a certain softmspot for certain types of kids and families. Where this came from, I won’t venture to guess, but I’m confident it came from an admirable place of wanting to help those who would likely be turned away elsewhere. The problem was she often extended this too far, resulting in students attending the school that teachers weren’t qualified to teach. As a result, these kids got less than they needed AND there classmates often suffered because the teacher was stretched too thin and not set up to succeed. I had one such student in my class and expressed my concerns. She responded that we couldn’t give up on the child and that we were his last hope and blah blah blah. It was clear that the situation has become more about the school’s ego and perception of itself as the last great hope and not about helping kids. In effect, adminstrators were making selfish decisions to placate their own desire to “help” and were ultimately causing harm tomthose they intended to help and others collaterally.

      Of course, this analogy is less than perfect because the problem could be addressed by getting those kids into schools prepared to best meet their needs (which absolutely exist) instead of aborting them. But, yea, I’m sure som folks act selfishy in such situatins, usually under the guise of being normal and/or being a savior.

      • Maybe to flip Will’s question around then, if society made available more and better resources to parents with disabled children, would less of them be aborted?

        • I think so, though how many less is an open question. Even if you volunteer to take care of the kid entirely, a lot of people don’t like the idea of their stray DNA being out there or attached to a less desirable person.

          That being said, I think societal support for the disabled is the right thing to do for other reasons.

        • if society made available more and better resources

          Man, is this a loaded sentence. Especially in terms of the recent debates about social spending.

          • Sure it is. I’m suggesting that pro-lifers might be able to reduce the number of abortions in other ways than trying to change the laws, which might only change what happens after an abortion anyway. How do pro-lifers come down on social spending for mothers of special needs kids anyway? (I’m asking in all seriousness. I don’t know.)

          • Yeah, I said it in all seriousness, too. It is where the rubber meets the road in terms of putting money where mouths are when it comes to people who are anti-abortion and also loathe public assistance. And I’m not saying one necessarily correlates with the other, but it often does. How amenable to that kind of assistance would they be (and in many instances, we are talking cradle to the grave assistance) if it meant that fewer abortions occured?

          • A common knock on pro-lifers is that they care about thelife of the child up until itis born. Probably not a fair generalization, but also not entirey false.

          • Not relevant to the question, tho. What our ideological enemies do or think does not address our own moral predicament.

          • True. But it is worth considering one’s positions in their entirety. They do nit exist in vacuums. Is aborting a baby with Downs much worse than refusing public assistance to people/babies with Downs who would otherwise be unprovided for andwhose parents would have opted to abort?

          • Rufus – This is far more of an indicator than a statistic, but here in Oregon every 2 years there are budgetary battles where one side argues for additional resources for special needs children and adults, and the other for lesser (or discontinued) funding. These sides line up party-wise as you might expect, with moderate Rs being more likely to agree to fund than social conservative Rs.

            That being said, I am not sure this is a conscious decision amongst most social-cons. I thank where it stands they put it as pure taxation/govt spending question and they react accordingly. It might be that if you put it in the way you or Will are suggesting that they might take to that funding differently.

          • And the answer is??? I sure hope you know because I sure don’t. My gut says we ought to look bigger pcture and avoid doing so. My head says that will lead to nothing ever getting done. Oy…

          • To clarify, I was not calling you out, TVD. Rather, I was throing my hands up as I’ve reached a point where I know not where to proceed to. I would take issue with you having as few answers as I, if that be the case.

            [Thx, BSK. This post was about questions, not answers.—TVD]

    • Will, I’d opine that the judgment you hypothesize in your comment is counteracted by the personal cost borne by the parents. Indeed a disabled child is a burden of sorts on society but such a child is massively more a burden upon his or her parents and family. So any judgment of the costs such parents are imposing on society is pretty ameliorated by the knowledge that they’re imposing enormous costs directly on themselves. I’d propose that the costs they take upon themselves will continue to cause us to view them as having made a considerable self sacrifice rather than viewing them as having imposed a cost on us as a whole.

  10. It’s worth noting that while the abortion debate in the U.S. is a relatively modern construction, parents have been exercising choice as long as our species has existed. The only real difference is that in the dozens of millenia prior to the development of safe abortion procedures the method was infanticide. An argument can be made that humans are going to get rid of unsatisfactory babies, so instead of attempting an unsuccessful prohibition approach, perhaps our policy should be geared toward making the elimination of those unwanteds as humane as possible.

      • I take this comment to be tinted with sarcasm. But it is at least infinitesimal progress, isn’t it? Perhaps the nuance of “pain” versus “no pain” is lost in the moral gravity well of killing in the first place, but to kill while inflicting pain is, all other things being equal, at least a tiny bit more culpable than to kill painlessly.

        • Along the lines of painless methods of execution, then? Progress, but only of a sort?

          Yes, it beats drawing & quartering, certainly.

          • Yes, this is what I was thinking. It’s an argument that’s subject to reasonable critique. Or even mockery, along the lines of, “so you think the guillotine was a moral advance?” But then, perhaps it really was. (See above, my statement about my own moral imbecility.)

          • Katherine made a similar point on the mainpage: My first reply was eaten by the Ghost in the Machine, but it wondered whether the “humaneness” and relative unmessiness of the guillotine made it easier to use more freely.

            The data certainly exists that in making abortion safe and legal, we have made it far far less rare, indeed on a scale that even Roe‘s proponents could not have imagined.

          • wondered whether the “humaneness” and relative unmessiness of the guillotine made it easier to use more freely.

            Yeah, that’s a reasonable question, too. Then it becomes a messy question of trying to calculate which system has greater social/moral costs. Not an easy calculation, I don’t think.

            It’s unfortunate that the universe doesn’t always reward improvements in specific details with improvements in general outcomes.

        • The contra to this is that instead of facing the moral question on our policies toward the “unwanteds,” we can tuck it into the sofa cushions of endless philosophizing about moral grey areas. We’re all pretty sure it’s not cool to kill three-month-olds (Peter Singer notwithstanding, perhaps). So long as we can call it mom’s choice, we don’t have to make use of vulgar sounding consequentialist arguments about the public good. If choice gets edged out by life in their deontological title bout, vulgar consequentialism is about all that’s left to make the case against unwanteds.

          • Tim, I want you seated on the on the Supreme Court!
            Tomorrow, if possible. And I’ll come out and say it right now–Judge Robert Bork would have been one one of the greatest Supreme Court Justices in its entire history.

            I seriously think my 6,600 hour long movie would work. Who or how could anyone watch a movie about the journey of a one-celled human zygote to a trillioned-cell fetus at birth–there are not separable moments from non-human to human.

            I would compare it to emptying a human brain of its 100 billion neurons and then proceeding to return each neuron, one by one, back into the brain. Does consciousness come at neuron 456,308–what happened beforehand that led to emergence of consciousness? What specific neuronal activity leads to consciousness? These exact same questions can be asked about the development of a zygote–from its conception, to its birth, 9 months later. Where is that magic line when a fetus crosses over and becomes human? And where is that moment when 100 billion brain neurons express themselves through consciousness?

            Professor Hanley–what conundrum? In your comments above, you suggested in your response to the hypothetical discovery of a “gay gene”, that it would present a real conundrum for a Fundamentalist mother. How so? Their position on abortion is quite firm and rock solid. It’s the Choicers who would be in a real quandary here. And can we PLEASE not trot out that dead horse argument that a woman has a right to do with her body as she so pleases. The moment that zygote exists, the entire genetic book is written. It then becomes a full-fledged member of the human race and is no longer “owned” by anyone.

            What we have here is irony at its best. The same philosophy that champions gay rights and same-sex marriage, would also be the same philosophy that would deny them the most important right of all–the right to exist. Eugenics and abortion are inseparable-at least in our hypothetical.

            Consider it a 9-month rental whose landlord is the Creator. If she wants to evict her tenant at least make her see who she’s evicting through ultrasound.


          • H-

            I’ve never felt it was a serious argument, this notion that a mass of cells is not a “person” one moment and is the next. At bottom, we’re dealing with conscience, not science or even philosophy. We don’t feel that badly about letting a nameless faceless thing die or even be stabbed or bludgeoned to death by a doctor, particularly if its mother doesn’t even want it. All the lofty arguments are just cover for this sentiment that had already determined our position ln the matter.

    • James-

      I generally abhor such thinking… the idea that folks are going to do something regardless of prohibition so make it legal/easier. People are going to murder; ought we make that legal? However, abortion is one area where I am somewhat sympathetic to that line of thought because of the ramifications of people doing it illegally and unsafely. Of course, there are a multitude of other reasons to argue in favor of abortion (and an equal number of reasons against it), so fortunately we are not left with only that as a defense of the practice.

  11. Good post TVD. Lots to ponder here and the Court decisions and empirical evidence of abortion practices are definitely part of the pondering. But I think this:

    We remain moral imbeciles.

    Might be a bit too strong. Suppose that the premise presented in Roe is actually valid: that pregnancy is a prima facie case of competing rights. How is that conflict resolved? One way is to deny that the mother has any rights which trump the right to life of the fetus. Another way is to deny that the fetus has any right to life until it achieves some admittedly arbitrary level of development. But neither of these solutions is prima facie acceptable since it resolves a real (to my mind) conflict by stipulation rather than argument.

    So that means we arrive at something like an arbitrary compromise on how that conflict is resolved. And when I say ‘we’, I don’t necessarily mean government or judges or ‘society’. Just people out there like you and me. So how do I resolve the conflict? On the face of it, at least to me, a blastocyst has only a very minimal right to life – on the level of a fungi or spore. In contrast, the mother – being a moral agent and possessing a full spectrum of applicable rights – has rights which trump those of a blastocyst (just as her rights trump those of a fungi or a spore). As I said, in my mind, that much is clear.

    Does this constitute a slippery slope situation in which people could choose to abort blastocysts for trivial reasons – like eye color or height or sexual orientation or gender (supposing this types of characteristics could be determined)? Probably. But insofar as that slippery slope constitutes a moral problem, it’s not a problem with respect to the initial claim: that a blasocyst doesn’t have rights above those of the mother. If it’s morally wrong to abort blastocysts because of eye color, it’s because there’s an additional moral property in play justified by a different moral argument.

    The idea that a limited set of moral principles can provide answers to all our moral questions, or that an extensive set of moral principles is consistent, is incorrect, in my view. So we do the best we can to arrive at sound arguments given the complexity of the world we live in, rather than viewing the world as simpler than it in fact is. That we don’t have all the answers to moral dilemmas doesn’t make us moral imbeciles. I think it shows that some moral problems are really hard.

    • Mr. Still, those gathered in this little corner of the LoOG to discuss this are surely not moral imbeciles. To substitute the Roe majority’s moral judgment for one’s own through the convenient trapdoor of “choice” is moral irresponsibility, yes, imbecility.

      Thx to all for this principled discussion. There is much to sort through, and we as a people have mostly declined to do it.

      • TVD, I want to push back on this, but without it sounding like just pushback. It seems to me that the Roe decision is actually the liberal argument here – liberals don’t adopt it because the SC ruled that way, the SC ruled the way liberals view things. So when you say adopting the view expressed in the ruling is a sign of imbecility, you’re pretty close to saying that the liberal view is an instance of imbecility.

        The issue of conflicting rights is central to the abortion debate. And resolving that conflict via assertion isn’t furthering the debate whatsoever. Or, of course, maybe I don’t understand the argument you’re making here.

        • The rubric of “choice” abandons even the asking of the moral questions. That’s first and foremost what this is about. Abandoning the consideration of the questions is moral imbecility.

          We are appalled at forced sterilization and Nazism. That’s a start. We have substituted abortion for infanticide, and privatized the morality of ridding ourselves of the “imperfects.” This is stipulated, albeit sardonically, as progress.

          We in the civilized West are revolted at gender-selection abortion, and likely would be if and when the “gay gene” is discovered. Right now, our revulsion rises to the level of tut-tut on the first, and declining to consider the implications of the second.

          I’m speaking here of not law and competing rights, but of what we do with our imperfects. The implication for the not-imperfects would come much much later if we were to do our ethical homework, which we have not.

          • Choice is the key factor here. If you don’t want to leave it to the parents then you are taking choice away from individuals and giving it to governments. The question is who gets to choose. Who gets to decide the morality of what happens inside a woman’s body. Using the charged language of Nazism or eugenics or whatever is, as you clearly state you are doing, is an attempt to avoid at least one of the vital choices you want to make. Who should tell a woman to do with things inside her body.

            But i’m sure we can at least agree health care should be universal so that all the imperfects ( since all of us are going to have a wonky gene or three) can always get care. What do we do with our “imperfects”: we care for them.

          • The rubric of “choice” abandons even the asking of the moral questions. That’s first and foremost what this is about. Abandoning the consideration of the questions is moral imbecility.

            Tom, I think this begs all the important questions. I don’t really care what rubric you or others choose to call a situation where women have a justified right to terminate pregnancies. If you, for whatever reasons, want to reduce the issue to a non-starter because the terminology is offensive to you, then adopt better terminology which isn’t so contentious.

            As I said above, there’s a substantive issue here, but you’re fixation on language reveals your unwillingness to address those issues. Either it is, or isn’t, the case that pregnancy constitutes a conflict of rights. All the other rights-based arguments you might want to make depend on an answer to this fundamental question. If you answer the question negatively, then there’s nothing left to even discuss about eugenics, since abortion is categorically wrong in any event. If you answer it affirmatively, then other moral considerations come into play.

            On the other side of things, pragmatic considerations don’t particularly care about that conflict one way or the other.

          • Mr. Still, neutral language is my first concern here: I have studiously avoided the word “baby.” [I slipped up once, when I digressed into talking about the “Tiptoes” movie.] “Baby” rather begs the question, and that’s the last thing I want to do. I want to re-examine our premises from scratch, and have attempted to trot out a new light, rather than replay the script of slogans from both sides.

            There was something about the story of Lya Graf that touched something in me, and several others who suggested I make a post of it. I was initially loath to do so, as it would be quite predictable that it would turn into the usual grenade toss. Fortunately, the sub-blogs do attract gentlepersons of good faith like those here gathered, and tend to be shunned by the moral imbeciles.

            Neither am I speaking of law here. “Choice” is perhaps the best political philosophy for these things, but it is not morality. In fact, the point is, by dragging in Roe as morality, all we do is preempt the moral questions that I thought we might address together.

            The privatization of morality is idiosyncratic, and in the end probably ad hoc, the result of sentiment and not moral reasoning. “Choice” as such can make no distinction between “good” reasons for abortion or “bad” ones like gender selection or the “gay gene.”

            Yet we do make such distinctions, eh? This was to re-examine how and why we make them, and to illustrate that no matter how much we abjure “morality,” in the end we’re still stuck with it.

          • The rubric of “choice” abandons even the asking of the moral questions.

            I disagree. The asking of moral questions remains relevant, at two levels. One the one level, focusing on choice involves a moral judgement that the interests of the mother outweigh the interests of the fetus. Wherever one comes down on that issue, that is very much an on-going moral question that is current in public debate.

            At the other level, because advocates of the mothers’ interests are advocating that she have the choice, not a duty, to abort, they keep open the space for the mother to engage in moral consideration.

          • Several commenters have spoken of “choice” and went no further. This I would call abandoning the asking of moral questions. The idea would be to start with gender selection [or eye color] or the mythical “gay gene” and work backwards.

            If one says that the latter examples are morally unobjectionable, then they’re in the clear.

          • Oh, I was just mocking my own discomfort with moral theorizing. From the perspective of a real moral theorist, I am a moral imbecile because in general I don’t get it and tend to reject its significance.

  12. I doubt this adds anything, but…My brother, four years older than me, was born in 1967 with Prader-Willi Syndrome. As my mother tells it, at that time not much was known about PW and not many resources were in place for support. Mom describes how she had to manually feed my brother since he had none of the rooting, grasping, or sucking reflexes “normal” babies are born with. Couple this with the responsibilities of caring for a four-year-old daughter, working, and being a wife you can imagine how difficult this time was for her. I consider it nothing short of heroic on the part of Mom and Dad that my brother is alive, healthy, and happy today (he lives with my parents, who are both in their seventies, and we have began discussing his care once my parents are no longer able to provide for him). I couldn’t imagine forcing anyone to endure what my parents went through in raising him.

  13. I agree with Tom on this: if we say that abortion of a healthy fetus on the grounds that a person is “not ready to be a parent” is a not-immoral choice (and I do), then we can’t, as far as I can see, say abortion for the purpose of sex selection is morally repugnant (and I don’t think it is). If the fetus has a right not to be killed, then it has that right, and the interest of the parents or of other humans have to be morally profound (life or “health” (as John McCain would put it)) to supercede it. But I don’t believe it has such a right, at least until some quite late stage in pregnancy.

    • The funniest, most hilarious line in the history of the United States Supreme Court has to be, “Abortion is safer than childbirth.” It can’t be topped. Maybe Burt can come up with something better. I’m sure the little tyke on his way to the Promised Land might have a thing or two to say about the “safety” issue.

      It is funny that a century went by without the Supreme Court ever finding a Constitutional “right to privacy” in the 14th Amendment to terminate a pregnancy.
      There were already 36 different laws on the books when the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 and a hundred years went by before a Barnum & Bailey circus magician, Harry Houdini Blackmun, pulled out of thin air, a constitutional right to abortion that no one had ever seen. Abracadabra, now you see it (a fetus), now you (sound of vacuum cleaner in the background) don’t!!

      Now, about this “right to privacy” nonsense (even several liberal legal scholars have said the legal “logic” is hideous and downright laughable) if the “right to privacy gives a woman a Constitutional right to abort a baby, er, fetus, why can’t she shoot-up all the heroin she wants or smoke all the crack she wants, or knock off a couple quarts of Popov a day? Let’s not forget now, women can and have been prosecuted for “fetal abuse” for such behavior. I guess it’s worse for the little guy or gal–sorry, I mean, fetus, to be stoned or drunk than dead.

      Curious logic, indeed.

      • I doubt, Hei, that you’ll find many people here that are in favor of the Drug War or the Prohibition that you’re referencing. So the whole thing kindof falls down.
        I, at least, would say a woman should be permitted to shoot up all the heroine, smoke all the crack and down all the quarts of Popov that she wants (*note* I think it’s a bad idea for her to generally do so but I think it’s worse for us collectively to be trying to prohibit such stuff since historical evidence so far indicates that it just makes the hypothetical her smoke more poisonous crack, more toxic heroine and more blindness inducing Popov). So for me there’s no conflict on privacy concerns there.

        • Mr. North, he’s speaking of “fetal abuse,” i.e., doing those things while pregnant, and which is punishable by law. It’s not a bad point.

          • Yes I understand, and since I and most pro-choicers are adamantly opposed to “fetal abuse” laws there remains no contradiction.

      • Tom, regarding the mythical, “gay gene”, it seems impossible to imagine such a thing existing without taking into consideration the role one’s environment also plays in shaping sexuality–I think a tandem effect certainly exists. An absent father, either because of death or abandonment, can play a role in a child developing homosexual proclivities. Sexual molestation by an adult of the same sex on a child has also statistically shown to be a factor in the development of homosexual behavior. I have no doubt biology and genetics play a role, as well.

        But for the sake of this discussion, let’s say that, indeed, they could say with 100% certainty, that this fetus would be homosexual. What then?

        Certainly, the way the laws are structured today, there is nothing preventing a woman from terminating a pregnancy for any reason she chooses. Sex–gender, intelligence, unemployment, loss of interest, change of mind–from a moral perspective, why would it be any worse to abort a fetus for those reasons than for the reason of a fetus’s sexuality? You understand of course, who is going to be aborting gay fetuses–it won’t be the pro-lifers or the Evangelicals or the Right-Wingers. No, it will be the liberals and the libertarians and the pro-choicers. How do you like that for irony? I challenge any of you to prove my logic wrong.

        Imagine, God forbid, they ever found a “Conservative” gene! Good heavens.

        Incidentally, they actually DID find a “liberal” gene. Yes, scientists at UCSD and Harvard have identified a gene called, DRD4, a dopamine receptor gene.

        They mapped the social networks of 2,000 adolescents with certain genetic information and determined that a variation in this gene would make them much more likely to be liberals when they were adults.

        So there you have it–and it’s not even mythical. To date, only one woman has aborted a fetus because of the recent discovery of this Liberal gene—Ann Coulter!! A news conference is planned for tomorrow….stay tuned.

          • Tom, I can’t begin to thank you enough for letting me participate in this most interesting discussion on your thread. (It appears you’ve started a firestorm!) I’ve enjoyed it tremendously.

            Your post quite artfully crafted the abortion/eugenics subject in a way that I’ve never even considered or seriously thought about and for that, I applaud you, mightily!

            I also have to give you special thanks because it appears you are the last person in this locale where my comments will be accepted.

            I have a hard time seeing or understanding why they’re considered that offensive or outrageous or insensitive or “trollish” but considering the consent is almost unanimous, I have no choice but to accept this verdict. I did sincerely try, in my New Year’s wishes, to extend my hand in friendship and peace, but that obviously fell on deaf ears–speaking of
            “deaf ears”, even summoned my very dearest friend, Ludwig van Beethoven, to add his miraculous and magical touch with the 2nd movt. of the Emperor–a piece of music I hold very dearly in my heart because I had the greatest pleasure and opportunity I’ve ever had in my life when I got to play the 1st movement with my high school orchestra.

            Again Tom, thanks a million–you’re one helluva of fine gentleman, writer, scholar, provocateur (in the very best sense of the word) and, well, just a damn good guy! H

            p.s. I should get you a present like maybe a book, or a CD or a gift certificate to your favorite pizza joint (Jets?).

          • Brother Heidegger, just stay on topic here and everywhere else @ LoOG and you’ll have no problems, I assure you. Focus, man, focus. You can say whatever you want if you can just keep the ADD under control. You are not banned for your right-wing opinions, I assure you.

            Management has accorded me this sub-blog along with Tim, and also front-page posting privileges, and I’m clearly a gentleman of the Right. It ain’t about that.

            I realize you have so much to say and nowhere to say it. What, do you think I have carte blanche to say whatever comes into my mind here? Or anywhere? Welcome to the human condition.

            I have another groupblog, and at this moment I’m working to ban those who use the comments section to mouth off on every subject under the sun. All they do is clog the discussion. I have never opposed your banning @ LoOG. I thought you had it coming. And I realize BlaiseP is only a little less psychotic and irrelevant and boring than you are, but he at least keeps a handle on what the actual topic is, no matter how tenuous. Read, and learn.

            Of course you can give me presents! Why would I object to that??? Everybody else just gives me shit.

        • Uh-oh. Just re-read these comments. Time for the goalie mask and Kevlar vest.

          I did NOT mean to suggest ALL homosexual behavior is the result of a psychiatric illness or pathology. What I was trying to say was that, in some, maybe many instances, environmental factors can play a substantial role in the development of homosexual tendencies.

          I hope this takes the fuel out of this potential fire.

          And Tom, yes–I certainly meant, “pregnant” women when I asked, “why can’t she shoot-up all the heroin she wants or smoke all the crack she wants, or knock off a couple quarts of Popov a day”. Thanks for the clarification.

          North, hey, thanks for the reply! I was convinced the cold shoulder from the gentlemen at this august site was unanimous and site-wide. (With the exception of Tom, of course.)

          I really don’t understand the relevance though, of whether or not we institute capital punishment for doctors who perform them–abortions– and women who seek them–in addressing the question at hand which is the old slippery slope moral consequences of aborting a fetus for reasons of gender, sexuality, political persuasions, racial purity, poverty, intelligence, etc.

          For eugenics to succeed, you have to raise and enhance–indeed- amplify the racial/genetic characteristics and attributes of one group at the expense of another. It can’t happen any other way. The Nazis, in their mad pursuit to perfect their vision of the Aryan race had to “purify” the genetic pool by exterminating gypsies, Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, any birth defects whatsoever, because only in doing so, could it be “genetically” guaranteed that the Aryan represented the genetically purified ideal Super Man and not polluted with the inferior and defective genes of the “Untermenschen”.

          Goodness, they had their own hidden little enclaves in the Black Forest to churn out blond-haired, blue-eyed little Aryan darlings–one German male for 7 blond beauties (usually Scandinavian)–made Caligula look like the Sound Of Music!

          • BLAISE WRITES: “I’m pretty sure all the states are obliged to pay wrongly convicted persons…” You seem to conflate “wrongly convicted” with being put to death. Who are all of these “innocent” people you’re talking about being put to death? There aren’t any. The “Innocence Project” hasn’t acquitted any dead people that I’ve heard about. The very fact that the IP has, through genetic evidence, been able to gain the release of those wrongly convicted of murder only means the system WORKS not that people are indiscriminately being given the “needle and the coffin”. You better brush up on your logic, Blaise. You are unsuccessfully trying to say the state executes innocent people because on certain occasions evidence later shows some death row inmates have been wrongfully convicted. These convictions HAVE NEVER resulted in an wrongful executions. To be on death row and later acquitted does not equal execution. Name one innocent person whom you maintain has been wrongfully executed. Just one. The silence will be deafening. It would not be humanely possible for the state to do more or invest more money to assure that NO innocent person ever be executed. Accidents and mistakes happen in every walk of life. That they don’t happen frequently in the justifiable administration of the death penalty speaks volumes of the care, precision, and seriousness the state exercises in implementing this ultimate penalty, capital punishment.

          • Another connection. Baseball/steroids/personal liberty/eugenics.

            Speaking of…Speaking of….So Ty Cobb had to go in for a physical one day and after completion, the doctor said, “Mr. Cobb, you are in robust health, sir. Everything checks very well for you, but I should alert you to one problem. I found urine in your whiskey…”

            Poor doc pummeled. See what the truth brings!

      • Mike writes: “Where do you think they intend to get the low-cost slave labor to clean their houses?”

        William Shockley lives! The rich want wage slaves! This statement categorically supports eugenics and abortion of minorities living in the United States.

        Okay, you’re saying those evil rich folks are against abortion because where would they find the “Help” to be maids, butlers, swimming pool cleaners, chauffeurs, landscapers, etc. Implicit in your comments is that abortions are largely performed on minorities, thus enacting laws to criminalize abortion, would reduce the labor force to perform menial jobs for Rich Whitey!

        Do you realize what you’ve just stepped into? It’s not Rich Whitey having all those abortions but poor blacks. Great Society, my ass. Are the revered, Social Scientists ,EVER right about anything?

        Again, it’s Liberals who end up exterminating homosexuals and minorities! Don’t forget your mantra, CHOICE. CHOICE.CHOICE. That’s all that matters. It’s the Libs who need a growing population of minorities because to the Libs, minorities mean one thing and one thing only: Votes and power.
        You don’t really think Liberals give a damn about African Americans and other minorities, do you? They LOATHE the filthy, unwashed, rabble, and can’t distance themselves fast enough, once election day passes. They are a permanent voting base. Period. And affirmative action decrees just continue to sustain the status quo and dumb down the whole the culture. Liberals make damn sure minorities have as little possibility of “social mobility” as possible. You lose that voting base, and they’d be the ones picking oranges and cutting lawns.

        A few stats to throw into the discussion: minorities make up about 13% of the population in the United States yet 42% of all abortions performed, are performed on minorities.

        On an average basis, approximately 1,900 black babies are aborted every day. Since Roe, 1973, African-American women have had about 16,000,000 abortions–that’s not a typo, yes, thirteen million.

        • “that’s not a typo, yes, thirteen million.”

          Yes, it is a typo–it should be “sixteen million” not thirteen million.

          • BSK WRITES: “what do you make of Fundamentalists who legitimately believe that homosexuality is a sin worthy of death?”

            Who is saying that? I’m not aware of any Fundamentalist who thinks homosexuality should be punishable by death.

            You learn something new every day, so, at your convenience, please send me a link that would corroborate such extraordinary accusation.

            An please don’t bring in the contemptible, vile, Fred Phelps, a certifiable loon who has been unequivocally condemned by every Baptist and Calvinist church, preacher, spokesman, parishioners, theologian—he has NO SANE followers.

          • BSK, not sure, but maybe you were thinking of Islamic countries who punish homosexuals to death.

            As in, Iran, Yemen, North Sudan,Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Somalia. And in Cuba, Hollywood’s favorite country and dictator, homosexuality is illegal and if convicted, you’re going to be spending lots, and lots of time in one of those lovely re-education camps to get your mind “right”. Hey, they even tested an AIDS vaccine on hundreds of perfectly healthy “volunteers”. Big surprise, 98% of them suffered a horrible, horrible death.

            And for all of you T-shirt wearing, Che idolaters and apologists, Che personally put the pistol to the heads of hundreds of homosexuals. Does anyone know why Hollywood Liberals are such borderline cretins? And if you’re not, you can damn well be certain, your career will be ruined.

            In case you didn’t know it, The Red menace has just turned Blue.

          • Depends on your definition of “fundamentalist” I guess. Does that Nebraska pastor that endorsed Ron Paul before the IA caucuses not count?

  14. Infanticide induces a degree of intuitive moral shock that at least early-term abortions do not. I think it’s worthwhile for purposes of this question to understand delve at the source of that moral shock; perhaps it is not a reasonable dichotomy but it exists nevertheless.

    • Not for the Dutch it seems. In 2005 the Dutch Groningen Protocol was published in the New England Journal of Medicine giving Dutch doctors the possibility to actively end the life of a newborn child with a ‘severe’ impairment. The protocol is based on 22 cases all concerning Spina Bifida.

      From IFGlobal:http://www.ifglobal.org/images/stories/groningen-d.pdf

      “the Groningen Protocol most clearly expounds a
      practice where parents are counseled that their babies’ impairments will result in a life not worth living, and should die. Stereotypes about the lives of people with disabilities drive these recommendations. These practices are perhaps the most serious instances of disability discrimination.”

      Yes, eugenics still exists.

  15. Thankyou for raising this issue. New Zealand-based Savingdowns certainly see that eugenics is at play with the Down syndrome community.

    The only purpose of early routine antenatal screening for Down syndrome is to enable the birth of these people to be prevented, based on their biological identification and a discriminatory view that people with Down syndrome are somehow less human than others and will financially cost society more. Other positive reasons for prenatal diagnosis, such as hospital selection and delivery management, do not require first trimester testing.

    Choice doesn’t stop the act being eugenic – preventing births due to a view that these people, were they to be born, would be biologically inferior.

    Savingdowns has a case lodged with the International Criminal Court on this very issue, for the reasons outlined in this blog. Our web site covers the issues in more detail.

  16. For many of us, it is entirely experiential. Whereas we were blind, now we see.

    Unfortunately, it not entirely unbelievable to me that some here may post (and as I take, sincerely believe), that DS (and other “unwanteds”) babies/children/adults are “objectively” inferior. But why so? Because they cost more? In education, in public or private health insurance premiums, in speech or cognitive therapy? If society at large felt this was too high a cost to bear, we would decide not to bear it – yet we do bear it. But… if we catch the little buggers BEFORE they are born, then best to not bear the cost as to save a buck or two? Please examine the logic and your own motives here. If we are willing (and we are) to spend a few shekels extra on our needful fellows, then why are they “objectively” inferior? They obviously are not. Spend some time with the “unwanteds” and you will quickly and shortly know that you gain more than you give. Life is full of important lessons, and this is one of them.

  17. Heidegger:

    The moment that zygote exists, the entire genetic book is written. It then becomes a full-fledged member of the human race and is no longer “owned” by anyone.

    …except for that whole must-siphon-off-of-another-person-from-the-inside-for-several-months thing.

  18. Tom, I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while now, and I’m glad you wrote this post on it. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get to it. I was sick for a few days after the holiday – yes, too sick to watch TV or use the Internet.

    My wife and I are expecting our third child now. We found out late, and this seemed to cause great concern to the doctors vis-a-vis the requisite prenatal Down Syndrome screening – the cause of the concern was something to do with eleven weeks being the abortion cut-off and us being on public insurance and all the eccentricities of medical law in the U.S. and whatnot. I’m not sure of the details. Anyways, it seemed the expectation was that if the test came back positive, we would have trouble aborting (It turns out the fetus is negative for all tested congenital disorders, which means we won’t have to face any difficult decisions.)

    Anyways, this experience has changed my attitude towards abortion in a way I haven’t really had the time to work out. While we were waiting for test results to come back, my wife and I discussed how we felt about aborting a fetus that had tested positive for Down Syndrome.

    When I was in high school, I volunteered with several other residents of my town for a charity that helped repair broken or poorly-constructed homes in Appalachia. One of the other volunteers was a thirty-year-old man with Down Syndrome, who also happened to be a power lifter in the Special Olympics. (You can imagine how important he was to our construction crew.) Anyways, this man held a full-time job in the local supermarket, he was happy and pleasant to talk to, and he came from a wonderful family. By all indications, and I’m not a medical doctor so I can’t say this with much certainty, his disorder was not as burdensome as that 90% figure suggests.

    Anyways, this was an interesting post and an interesting discussion, so thanks for that.

    • I did volunteer work at Agnew State (formerly The Great Asylum for the Insane – no I’m not making that up) Hospital as a senior in high school.

      Downs, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome babies, Kleinfelter, the whole nine yards. Downs kids are great kids, extremely high functioning by comparison to some developmental disorders.

      When Kitty was pregnant with Hannah, being over 35, she was offered an amnio, and we both shrugged and said, “we don’t need it, however it comes back we’d be having the baby”. She has cousins with severe developmental disabilities, so she knew the score.

  19. In 2010 the American eugenics society renamed itself “The Society of Biodemography and Social Biology Inc.” according to its IRS return. So to understand eugenics now we have to understand this term “biodemography.” It means understanding evolution through demography. For example, there is a huge world-wide birth crash going on. Those countries in which births permanently fall below replacement level as shown by demography are unfit by definition in terms of evolution. This concerns eugenicists since these countries include most European countries. The post war eugenicists caused this birth crash by pushing contraception but they did not expect such a major crash and they are in denial that it is a lasting social reality. The biodemographers say the crash will be lasting reality unless we act to change it so they are pushing to rebuild the family (positive eugenics) – in Europe. There is a good introduction to biodemography online which is called “The Past Present and Future of Biodemography” http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol9/4/.

      • CCarr, KScott’s argument here is devastating:

        “Those countries in which births permanently fall below replacement level as shown by demography are unfit by definition in terms of evolution.”

        His argument is playing by the rules of “science.”

        • I get that. But I still want to know whether or not they believe Europeans are superior.

  20. As an opponent of capital punishment, I’ll happily go on record as saying that if(!) methods for execution have in fact advanced in a way to make them much less painful (and we must say if: Have you ever been executed? Have you been executed multiple times so as to compare the pain levels you experienced when executed by different methods?), then this is indeed progress even if this has caused an increase in the number of executions (of what size versus what amount of pain mitigation, that I cannot estimate, but my gut tells me that the improvement are real, and that impressions of humaneness are not a significant driver of the number of executions).

    However if all we have done is developed methods that we believe based on design or research ought to make execution less painful, but in fact does not do so or does not do so to any significant degree (perhaps because, plausibly, it turns out that the overwhelming majority of the pain involved in being executed is the mental anguish of knowing that is your fate), and this causes an increase in the number of executions, then obviously we have made no progress.

    We cannot know what is the reality of the situation in this regard, so it is hard to know which way this cuts for the purpose of policy: this one of the reasons I oppose the death penalty. (Also because jury convictions are unreliable.) But my gut says that we ought to recognize that for now capital punishment is a reality of American public opinion, and, while working to change that, also do our best to make executions more humane in fact.

    • This looks random here; it was meant as a reply in a thread between Tom and Professor Hanley above.

    • Who cares about pain? I’d rather get shot in the face or beheaded than intoxicated in some room with a bunch of people I’ve never met and then just cease to exist. I think, if we’re going to have capital punishment, we shouldn’t sugarcoat or whitewash it. We should have public gladiatorial competition or hangings with children in attendance. If we’re going to be barbarians, let’s at least be barbarians with balls. There’s a real deterrent right there.

  21. Thanks for an unbelievable put up, would see one’s others reviews. i appreciate your thoughts with this, I felt a trifle strike by this article. Thanks again again! You wanna make a good time. Portrays natures best by the wonderful info here. I feel that in case a greater number of people thought of it like that, they’d have a better moment in time receive the hold ofing the difficulty.

  22. Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who usess it, including yours truly :). Keep doing what you are doing – i will definitely read more posts.

Comments are closed.