Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins has gotten himself into some hot water with tweets recommending fetuses with Down’s syndrome should be aborted, the Standard reported.
The professional atheist was debating on twitter that it would be “immoral” to give birth to a Down’s syndrome child “if you have the choice”.
During a Tweeter discussion of Ireland’s abortion laws, Dawkins received a tweet that read: “I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down’s syndrome. Real ethical dilemma.”
Dawkins responded: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
Needless to say, his comment brought on some anger, with one tweet calling him an “appalling, soulless man”.
One response tweet brought on the stats: “994 human beings with Down’s Syndrome deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012 – is that civilized?”
Dawkins replied: “Yes, it is very civilized. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings.”
He was specific about not advocating the murder of living Down’s syndrome children, only those who have been identified in utero.
“There’s a profound moral difference between ‘This foetus should now be aborted’ and ‘This person should have been aborted years ago’, ” he posted.
In clinical murder, as in comedy, timing is everything.
Dawkins then added: “Apparently I’m a horrid monster for recommending what actually happens to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted.”
He’s probably right. Which, nevertheless, didn’t get him off the hook. Does it ever?
The Down’s Syndrome Association had this to say:
“People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society. At the Down’s Syndrome Association, we do not believe Down’s syndrome in itself should be a reason for termination, however, we realize that families must make their own choice. The DSA strives to ensure that all prospective parents are given accurate and up to date information about the condition and what life might be like today for someone with Down’s syndrome.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, a combined test, done in two steps, is used to identify the possibility of a fetus having the Down’s syndrome. One is a blood test to measures the levels of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A and the pregnancy hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin. Abnormal levels indicate a possible problem with the baby.
The blood test is combined with ultrasound, used in the first trimester to measure a specific area on the back of the fetus’ neck. This is known as a nuchal translucency screening test. When abnormalities are present, more fluid than usual tends to collect in this neck tissue.
If your screening test results are positive or worrisome, or you’re at high risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, you might consider more testing to confirm the diagnosis. Your health care provider can help you weigh the pros and cons of these tests.
Diagnostic tests that can identify Down syndrome include Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), where cells are taken from the placenta and used to analyze the fetal chromosomes, after 10 weeks of pregnancy; Amniocentesis, where sample of the amniotic fluid is used to analyze the chromosomes of the fetus, usually after 15 weeks of pregnancy; and Cordocentesis, where fetal blood is taken from a vein in the umbilical cord and examined for chromosomal defects, between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy.