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Disposable babies

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 07, 2012

Doctors may soon be able to screen unborn children for 3,500 different genetic disorders, London’s Daily Telegraph reports. The testing won’t even be invasive: a blood test from the mother, a cheek-swab from the father.

If the tests were done for the benefit of the babies—if there were some way to treat genetic disorders in utero--this might be wonderful news. But that’s not the reality, as the Telegraph acknowledges:

At the moment the only genetic disorder routinely tested for on the NHS is Down’s syndrome.

Why do doctors screen for Down Syndrome? In the United Kingdom, where the NHS routinely does that testing, more than 90% of the babies diagnosed as having Down Syndrome are aborted. Does that answer the question?

Down Syndrome children can be beautiful, and extraordinarily capable of both giving and receiving love. But most parents, given a choice, evidently prefer to abort and try again, hoping for a “normal” child.

And why stop there? Wouldn’t you be more comfortable knowing that your baby wouldn’t suffer from the childhood bouts of asthma that might keep you awake at night? All things being equal, wouldn’t you prefer a son who would retain his hair, rather than one who would be visibly balding in his teens? And nobody wants a color-blind child…

In the Brave New World, a lot of guys like me will never be born.

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