Sunday, November 20

Survival of the Fittest or Pathway to Eugenics?

This article from today's New York Times talks about objections to a new test that can detect Down's Syndrome.


The fear, says the article, is that more women will abort if they know the child is going to have some kind of disability. This will in turn lead to less support for people fighting for disability rights, less money for research into Down's Syndrome and other genetic conditions, and so on.

I don't know if I like that argument. It kind of reminds me of people who say that deaf kids shouldn't learn how to read lips because using sign language makes them more identifiably deaf and therefore more able to be Deaf and Proud. I mean, I'm all for supporting disability rights, but not to the extent that we should hamper scientific progress. That's like saying we shouldn't try to improve cancer treatments because we run the risk of putting oncologists out of business.

What does concern me about tests like these, though, is the whole Gattaca element to them. I think we're coming every closer to a world where we're modifying our children's genes as easily as we can edit a web page. Scary stuff.

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