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Heretical Thoughts on Abortion & Eugenics

1,435 words

Hugo Simbert, The Wounded Angel, 1903 [1]

Hugo Simbert, The Wounded Angel, 1903

Once I saw an interview with a woman whose child had cystic fibrosis. The child was forced to endure long medical treatments every day just to stay alive. Tests showed early in the pregnancy that her baby would be afflicted with cystic fibrosis, but the woman decided not to abort because, she said, “I figured that I’d rather have a life with health problems than no life at all.” 

Strangely enough, I’d heard this exact same statement once before from another woman who gave birth to a child with a genetic defect. But what does it mean? You and I are conscious beings, and as such, we certainly recoil at the prospect of having no life at all. That would definitely be a loss. But if we had died before we were conscious beings, was there anyone there to suffer “having no life at all”?

I do have a problem with late-term abortions, and I was appalled to learn some of the excuses women give for waiting so long, such as, “I kept meaning to do something about it, but I just kept putting it off.” It seems monstrous to take a viable fetus from a woman’s womb and then kill it, so I am personally sympathetic to the idea that there’s a point at which abortion is no longer an option. The timing is problematic, of course, because the fetus matures very gradually, and it doesn’t achieve viability and consciousness on any particular date.

Numerous embryos develop naturally in the womb and then spontaneously abort (the woman’s period is “late”). In fact, geneticists believe that perhaps the majority of conceptions spontaneously abort. It would be interesting to hear what Pro-Lifers have to say about that. According to their own dubious reasoning, everything that happens “naturally” is God’s will. Wouldn’t this mean that God aborts vast numbers of embryos and fetuses? It’s an inescapable conclusion. And if God commits abortion, then how could it be a terrible sin against God? I see no way out of this contradiction. Embryos and fetuses that spontaneously abort are usually defective, often with chromosomal abnormalities, so maybe this gives us a clue into God’s intention. Maybe God doesn’t want defective fetuses coming to term and becoming defective children. And if God is a eugenicist, would it be so wrong for us to follow God’s lead and only deliver healthy babies?

Suppose a woman learns early in her pregnancy that her potential child, if she carries it to term, will suffer from severe mental retardation. I believe that to knowingly give birth to a baby with any serious defect is cruel, immoral, and a crime against that being. Some pro-lifers are concerned with life to the exclusion of all other considerations – such as quality of life. Do they care at all about suffering? No woman should let herself be frightened or made to feel guilty if she decides to have an abortion in such a situation. She might not want to sacrifice her life in order to spend decades changing the diapers of a severely retarded child, and she surely need not apologize for that. But would she be “righteous” if she carried it to term and became its unpaid, unappreciated, round-the-clock, lifetime slave? No. In my opinion, she’d be a fool. The mother’s life matters plenty, and there are other people to be concerned about, in addition to the mother – such as the father, the other children, and the potential child itself should be considered when there’s little chance it would lead a normal life. What about the potential healthy children that the mother might forego bearing because of the time and expense of taking care of a severely handicapped or retarded child? Often it’s an act of courage and compassion to abort and to try again to have a healthy baby.

Typically, a severely retarded child (or any other child with serious genetic impairment) requires an extraordinary amount of care, more than any one person can provide, and the state (a.k.a. “the taxpayer”) virtually always ends up paying for it. Fairness would seem to require that the state should therefore have some input if it pays the bills, but, of course, it doesn’t. A strong case can be made that parents have no right to impose a huge financial burden on the rest of society if they can possibly avoid it.

If the parents sign a legally-binding contract that they will assume the entire life-time cost of the child themselves, that would be different, but few people have that much money. Parents who knowingly give birth to seriously defective children are also evading their responsibility to the larger society unless they accept full financial responsibility for them.

Some would maintain that evading responsibility in this way is both immoral and un-Christian, and unfortunately, this is the rule rather than the exception. Almost invariably, the larger society is burdened with the enormous expense. It’s my understanding that even parents with very substantial incomes still obtain social services for these children. If all such parents were required to take full responsibility, a few might very well change their minds regarding their total and unconditional opposition to abortion. When taking full responsibility means financial ruin and life-long slavery, my guess is that at least some Pro-Lifers will find their unwavering principles beginning to waver.

Ideally, eugenicists want Western countries to have nation-wide eugenics programs of incentives and disincentives, much like the eugenics program that exists today in Israel. (Isn’t that the very height of irony?) But sadly, we are nowhere near “ideally.” Political oppression has made this impossible for the time being because a tiny ethnic minority controls our world, and they want eugenics for themselves, and dysgenics for everyone else [2].

While we continue to promote eugenics generally, as we have always done, and work to free ourselves from this oppression, we can also engage politically in ways that advance eugenics without even having to mention the word. In the United States, for example, Republicans have taken control of many state governments recently, and they have dramatically reduced the number of women’s clinics, sometimes cutting the number by more than 50%. Limiting access to contraception and abortion is horribly dysgenic. Smart, responsible women with initiative and drive will find ways to get them, whereas less-capable women often will not, so closing clinics only makes a bad situation worse.

Just to clarify one point: there’s exactly zero chance that we will ever return to the days in which there was no contraception. People already know all about it, clearly they want it, and there are numerous companies that make and sell it. We will never stuff that genie back in the bottle.

Planned Parenthood is a “natural ally” of eugenics. Margaret Sanger (1883-1966) founded Planned Parenthood, she pioneered the use of contraception, and she was an outspoken eugenicist. She’s most frequently quoted as having said, “When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become a new race.” This is why nearly all eugenicists are pro-choice, and support “reproductive rights.” Sometimes I wonder how many of Planned Parenthood’s present-day leaders are “closet eugenicists.”

Recall that the major cause of dysgenics (genetic deterioration) is that low-IQ women have far more accidental pregnancies than higher-IQ women have, and the end result is that they typically have many more children than they intended to have. These children are unplanned, and often unwanted, and they have disadvantages in terms of both heredity and environment. If we could somehow halt that trend, we could eliminate dysgenics. Then at least we would “break even” genetically.

Eugenics is not an “all or nothing” proposition. Rather, every miniscule bit of progress we make helps real people in the immediate future. Regardless of where things stand today – whether we live in a eugenic utopia, or a dysgenic hell hole, or somewhere in between – we can always improve the lives of those who follow us. Even if we can only reduce the severity of dysgenics, that’s a totally worthwhile endeavor because many lives can be improved, and soon. Keeping one more women’s clinic open is worth the fight.

Eugenicists must vigorously oppose all so-called “pro-life” candidates, and the utterly outrageous “personhood” amendments. “Pro-life” is a superficially attractive term that conceals a sinister interior, because what it really means is unequal access to contraception and abortion, which invariably causes genetic deterioration. Just as the idea of Communism sounded appealing in the beginning, the reality was untold misery. It is the same with pro-life.