November 26, 2002
A HAZARD OF MISFORTUNES:Geneticist: Abort the blind and disabled (Julie Novak November 20, 2002, Narragansett Times)
Society might be better off if it prevents the birth of blind and severely disabled children, said biomedical ethicist Dan W. Brock [a former professor of philosophy and biomedical ethics at Brown University who now works for the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland] at the University of Rhode Island's tenth Honors Colloquium lecture last Tuesday night.
In a world where genetic screening has become not only common, but also proficient and covered by health insurance in some cases, new parents may be facing more thought-provoking decisions as they prepare for the birth of a child. And Brock thinks such decisions should be left to parents, not the government, because of their complexity.
A supporter of pre-birth screening and procedures like abortion to prevent disabled children from being born, Brock said his thoughts should not be perceived as a judgment of severely disabled people.
"I want to define genetic testing in a strictly reproductive context. It's uncontroversial that serious disabilities should be prevented in born persons," Brock asserted. "It's considered a misfortune to be born blind or with a serious cognitive disability, but if it's a bad thing for a born person, then why not prevent these conditions in someone who will be born?"
This guy's an ethicist? And we pay his freakin' salary? It is undoubtedly true that we might save our society much time, money, and aggravation if we killed babies who were going to be inconvenient to raise and care for, but that isn't ethical reasoning, it's expedience. And having decided that the circumstances of someone's life would represent a "misfortune" which justifies our killing them, what other misfortunes might we not add to the list? Posted by Orrin Judd at November 26, 2002 5:45 PM