If I understand her position correctly, fair dos to ethicist Dr Wendy Savage for suggesting today that persons in the womb should be able to be aborted if they are of the wrong sex.
Like or loathe this suggestion there’s no doubt that it is logical and consistent with the dogs’ dinners that are law and ethics in this regard.
If social policy, law, and ethics alike (and yes, I include YOU Nuffield) can so ignore or manipulate evidence as to assert that foetuses with Down Syndrome or disabilities may be aborted up to birth, then we should all prepare ourselves for this next step. Savage is as Savage does and we should admire her honesty.
To date, too many clinicians’ ‘line to take’ has been that foetuses with DS are either not worthy of life, or not contributory enough to justify resources being spent on them. Doc Savage has cut through the crap: any and all foetuses should be abortable for most reasons even, perhaps, up to birth – as indeed foetuses with DS currently may be.
It’s what ‘Pro-Choice’ means after all.
“Alternatively?”, I hear you say. Ah yes, an alternative? It’s called ‘No choice’. And we’ve been there. It led to back street abortionists. Taken to its reductio ad absurdum it would mean women who wanted an abortion (in a brave new world of abortion being illegal) being intercepted on their way to an illegal clinic by agents of the State, drugged, intravenously fed and hydrated, and strapped to a gurney until Term, when a forced Caesar would be committed upon them and the baby removed.
I’ve no solution to this old and seemingly intractable dilemma. A “woman’s choice” is tied in to so much more than abortion rights. It’s a phrase that also covers empowerment and freedom from religious patriarchy and other forms of second-class citizenship; from stuff that, surely, women ought to be free from?
But to ensure that women have that choice we see Iceland and Denmark celebrating being totally or nearly ‘Down Syndrome-free’; we see the Netherlands and the UK considering rolling out non invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) on a population basis; we see clinicians and politicians justifying this as, simply, an opportunity for prospective parents to gather more information.
Whereas the reality is that many of the obgyns and other clinicians involved have financial stakes in the roll out of the new testing regimen. And the ‘medical model’, seeking social and human perfectibility, is not one that willingly welcomes argument.
It has seemingly been decided that Down Syndrome is the battleground on which these ignorant armies shall fight their battle. That means that my daughter and her ilk have been made pawns in someone’s game, arguments in someone’s debate, casualties in someone’s war.
Noone asked their, her, permission or took notice of their, her, opinion.
So if you are so pro-abortion that you think abortion up to birth on grounds of DS or disability is ok, or abortion on grounds of sex, or on grounds of any other genetic determinism, well **** you. You are wrong.
And if you are so anti abortion that you cannot even posit a scenario where there may be some legitimate role for a decision that falls under the rubric of ‘choice’ then I guess you are wrong also, so **** you too.
We all have to work harder to seek solutions and not demonise those who disagree with us.
But I do know this, as we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on 21st March: Doc Savage is so incontestably right that she is totally wrong; Iceland is wrong; the abortive uses that NIPT will lead to in the UK and the Netherlands are wrong.
What’s right? My daughter, The Girl, who has Down Syndrome is right. Her peers with DS are ALL right. They are the finest people I know and any world without her, without them, any world without Down’s is not one worth our calling ‘home’.