Pushing Eugenics as “Smart Science”
Wesley Smith - March 06, 2009
Bioethicist Jacob M. Appel, who has written that mentally ill people should not be denied the “opportunities” to commit assisted suicide, now pushes mandatory pre-implatation genetic testing in all IVF fertility treatments in order to weed out the unfit (my term) and for whom care would be expensive. But don’t call it eugenics! From his column:
The most obvious advantage of mandatory screening is that it will reduce the long-term suffering of the children who are spared disease. At the same time, preventing future cancers will certainly save tax dollars. These savings could be redirected toward researching new therapies and providing quality care for current patients. The money might also help to defer the enormous public costs of fertility therapy, coverage for which a growing number of states now require of private insurance plans…While similar screening cannot realistically be imposed upon individuals conceiving “the old-fashioned way,” for obvious reasons of logistics and privacy, these invasive aspects of screening do not apply to IVF.
Opponents of mandatory screening will likely point out that such a rule significantly limits the reproductive autonomy of parents. This is certainly true. However, Western societies have long acknowledged that parental authority cannot undermine the medical interests of a child. Jehovah’s Witnesses may not deny their children blood transfusions; Christian Scientists cannot substitute prayer for life-saving antibiotics. As United States Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge wrote in the landmark case of Prince v. Massachusetts, “Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves, but it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children.”…
Such crass utilitarian utopianism is precisely what eugenics was all about. And its message is insidious: Those with expensive disabling conditions and diseases are a burden on society and you should not be allowed to be born–as a favor to you!