Because world-changing ideas have to be brand new, they often come from people you wouldn’t peg as ‘world-changers.’ These new ideas aren’t going to be what most people think, so the person who comes up with them has to be a little outside the realm of most people – they have to be a little abnormal, just like their idea. If it was normal, then it wouldn’t alter the world. And if the person was completely normal, they would not have cause to question what’s commonly accepted.
Even if someone has an earth-shattering idea, the strength of majority opinion makes implementing it difficult; not only did Galileo have to conceive a new way of understanding the universe, but he also had to find a way to surmount the Italian Inquisition.
What’s worse is when the world-changer is written off even before they have a chance to speak simply because society considers them useless. Even after escaping slavery and developing himself into a literary genius, Frederick Douglass still needed to defeat the common assumption that the color of his skin made him inherently valueless.
The measures society accepts to rid itself of “undesirables” are truly disturbing.
Danish public opinion, for instance, considers Down syndrome a sign of worthlessness and 60% of Danes look forward to eliminating Down syndrome in 2030 through subsidized abortions. Twelve years ago, the Danish government introduced free prenatal screenings. A year after the policy was enacted, the number of Danish babies born with Down syndrome halved. The Copenhagen Post now reports that “[i]f current health policies and trends continue, Denmark could be a country without a single citizen with Down syndrome in the not too distant future.”
As the Copenhagen Post observes, this is not an uncommon opinion in the US or the UK where 92% of all fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. In fact, there are whole groups dedicated to eliminating this and similar disorders in vivo. For example, the California Prenatal Screening Program’s primary goal is “to reduce the occurrence of birth defects and disability by offering prenatal screening and follow-up services to pregnant women in California.”
A similar practice is running rampant in India, where female babies are considered less valuable than males. Even after gender testing was outlawed, up to 4 million girls were aborted between 1991 and 2001, and a further 6 million by 2011, vastly outpacing the abortion of male fetuses. The ban is poorly enforced, and legal abortions make it possible for families to have sex-selective abortions. As in the case of Denmark, India is hardly alone in their behavior. According to Scientific American, sex-selective abortions were being considered as early as 1950. Other societies which value women lower than men suffer from abortion-fed gender imbalances. In China, it has led to a spike in sex trafficking, notably of young girls.
All these nations fall into a larger pattern. There has never been a society in history without prejudices. So when it is legal to choose who deserves to live, society seems to inevitably target the marginalized and unwanted. This is why abortion has long been tied to eugenics in one form or another. Planned Parenthood was founded by a leading advocate of eugenics, Margaret Sanger, who believed it would be an integral part of the eradication of the “unfit,” and observed that, “Eugenics without Birth Control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit.”
And she was right that eugenics relies on birth control. Frederick Douglass faced terrible odds at birth, but he had a slim chance to prove mass opinion wrong. Through his perseverance, he was ultimately able to argue against the society that had devalued him and lived as irrefutable proof that they were wrong about his unworthiness. Aborted children have no such opportunity. If nearly every disabled child is aborted, they have no chance to prove their equal value and the incorrect assumption that they don’t deserve to exist endures.
Regardless of whether one thinks a fetus is human, the fact that abortion supports the elimination of the oppressed and helpless before they can even draw breath is sickening. Enacting such eugenics will prove detrimental to society—such a society won’t have many world changers. It will not include men like John Nash or Albert Einstein. No, their respective mental disorders would have cut their lives terribly short.
As genetic testing becomes more precise, where might this end? It is not difficult to imagine fetuses with ADD, dyslexia, anxiety, or bipolar disorder being systematically aborted. Even queer children could fall to the march of progress; scientists have long suggested that homosexuality can be linked to certain genetic markers. If these genetic markers can be identified before birth, might families choose to abort their queer or trans pregnancies before the child is born?
Surely, the resulting society would be a cold and callous one: one in which a person’s right to life depends on their social utility. Once put into place, it will likely stay that way.
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