December 14, 2020 | Jerry Bergman

The New Eugenics: Eliminating Down Syndrome

Eugenics is being reborn in Socialist countries;
Hitler would be proud: Did we fight WWII for nothing?

by Jerry R. Bergman, PhD

After almost a half-century after the Supreme Court ruling, abortion remains one of the most contentious issues in America today. This issue was a major reason for the aggressive opposition to the confirmations of Catholic Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Catholic Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The critics realized that Kavanaugh and Barrett, if appointed, would wield enormous power, especially in negating the infamous Roe v. Wade abortion case (410 U.S. 113 (1973) that legalized abortion.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that the American Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without government restriction. It struck down many U.S. federal and state abortion laws, and has prompted the ongoing national debate in the United States about whether and to what extent abortion should be legal. It also questions the role of religious and moral views influencing the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped American politics, dividing the United States about 50/50 into abortion rights (“pro-choice”) and anti-abortion (“pro-life”) movements.

Eugenics

The horrors of the Nazi goal to produce a superior race are still raw, even today. In publishing reviews of books about the Nazis, I discovered that some book review sites will not post a review that contains the word Nazi in the review, even in reviews of books about the Nazis. I have learned that to be able to post reviews about Nazi books I had to use the full name of the Nazi party, specifically The National Socialist German Workers’ Party. In German, the party was named the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei which the authoritative Encyclopedia Britannica notes “is the political party of the mass movement known as National Socialism.”[1]

Figure 1. Down syndrome is trisomy 21, meaning an extra 21 chromosome (as shown in the red rectangle) ends up in the zygote. Other trisomy’s occur but all are lethal. Edwards’ syndrome (trisomy 18) and Patau’s syndrome (trisomy 13) can sometimes survive but less than 10% live past their first birthday. (Wiki Commons)

The most infamous act of the Nazis was to euthanize those persons deemed mentally ill, such as those born with Down syndrome, or persons who were severally deformed. It is thus not too surprising that, in 2004, the Socialist-leaning country of

Denmark became one of the first countries in the world to offer prenatal Down syndrome screening to every pregnant woman, regardless of age or other risk factors. Nearly all expecting mothers choose to take the test; of those who get a Down syndrome diagnosis, more than 95 percent choose to abort.[2]

A major concern of these women is the perceived cost of properly caring for a Down syndrome child. Ironically, in Denmark, people with Down syndrome

are entitled to free health care, education, even money for the special shoes that fit their wider, more flexible feet. Yet a gulf separates the publicly expressed attitudes and private decisions. Since universal screening was introduced, the number of children born with Down syndrome has fallen sharply. In 2019, only 18 were born in the entire country. (About 6,000 children with Down syndrome are born in the U.S. each year.)[3]

Suddenly, “a new power was thrust into the hands of ordinary people—the power to decide what kind of life is worth bringing into the world.

The decisions parents make after prenatal testing are private and individual ones. But when the decisions so overwhelmingly swing one way—to abort—it does seem to reflect something more: an entire society’s judgment about the lives of people with Down syndrome.”[4]

Now that the extra expense is picked up by the state, it would seem that there must be other reasons for aborting children with Down syndrome. There are actually several other reasons, namely judgments about the lives of people considered not worth living.

Abortion and Eugenics

Most nations of the world are today not openly euthanizing the mental patients in special care facilities as the Nazis did. Instead, eugenics supporters today are using abortion to ensure that less-fit children are never born. Using abortion in this way is the new eugenics.

Evolution Support for Abortion

In the 1970s, University of Michigan professor Dr. James Neel argued in Supreme Court briefs that evolutionists have proven the human embryo passes “through the stages in the evolutionary history of our species … [A]t about 30 days after conception, the developing embryo has … the gill slits and gill arches of fish and a caudal appendage labeled ‘tail’.”[5]

These embryology claims argued for the belief that, when an abortion usually occurs, the child is not a human but rather a fish or even a lump of tissue. This argument was, and still is, a major plank of the pro-abortion position.[6] The fish claim was based on the drawings of Ernst Haeckel made in the late 1800s and reprinted in most high school biology textbooks — until recently exposed as a fraud. Haeckel‘s ideas had earlier inspired many German scientists that influenced Hitler.[7]

Haeckel’s drawings have now been proven to be forgeries by photographs of the actual embryonic stages that Haeckel had claimed to base his drawings on. The fish-argument claims also turned out to be wrong on all counts. A human embryo does not have either gills or gill slits. Photographs by St. George’s Hospital Medical School professor Michael Richardson published in the journal Anatomy and Embryology exposed the fraud.[8] If the Supreme Court had medically and scientifically accurate information about the status of the embryo at the 1973 trial, the ruling could well have been very different. If the case is heard again before the U.S. Supreme Court, the outcome may well also be very different.

Figure 2. Michael Richardson of St. George’s Hospital Medical School (London) proves Haeckel’s drawings, shown in the top photo, are fake, as evidenced by the actual photographs below the pictures. The differences are not of minor details but, as is obvious from the above comparisons, indicate outright falsehoods.

Fält-Hansen leads a Danish organization on Down syndrome that is likely to have fewer and fewer new members as time goes by. Her goal, she says, is not to turn women carrying Down syndrome babies against abortion. She “fully supports a woman’s right to choose” but she works to help them deal with a Down syndrome child if they chose to carry it to full term.[9] Very few do.

Just as the Nazis did, supporters of eugenics by abortion have what sound like good reasons for their position. For example, they argue that the litany of possible symptoms of Down syndrome children include “intellectual disability, low muscle tone, heart defects, gastrointestinal defects, immune disorders, arthritis, obesity, leukemia, [and] dementia.”[10] The Nazis called these people “useless eaters,” a drain on hard working Germans and “parasites that must be eliminated like bacteria.”

The other side is often ignored. Even Zhang admits that “Down syndrome was one of the first genetic conditions that was routinely screened for in utero, and it remains the most morally troubling because it is among the least severe genetic issues. Many [Down syndrome children] now can have a long, happy life.” One reviewer for a book I published on C.S. Lewis, Professor Ellen Myers (who is also the author of its Foreword), has a Down syndrome daughter and states that this daughter has given her the most blessings, by far, of any of her 5 children.[11]

Author Sarah Zhang described one Down syndrome boy cited in her review, “Karl Emil can read. His notebooks are full of poetry written in his careful, sturdy handwriting. He needed physical and speech therapy when he was young. He loves music—his gold-rimmed glasses are modeled after his favorite Danish pop stars. He gets cranky sometimes, like all teens do.”[12] A personal note: My granddaughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome concerns when in the womb. She graduated from college in 3.5 years and is now very successful in her work. False positives are not rare. Zhang writes,

Denmark is unusual for the universality of its screening program and the comprehensiveness of its data, but the pattern of high abortion rates after a Down syndrome diagnosis holds true across Western Europe and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in the United States. In wealthy countries, it seems to be at once the best and the worst time for Down syndrome. Better health care has more than doubled life expectancy. Better access to education means most children with Down syndrome will learn to read and write. Few people speak publicly about wanting to “eliminate” Down syndrome. Yet individual choices are adding up to something very close to that…. Suddenly, a new power was thrust into the hands of ordinary people—the power to decide what kind of life is worth bringing into the world.[13]

Eugenics has not died; it just has put on a new face – a kinder, friendlier face.

Summary

It looks like it could be Nazi-style eugenics thinking all over again, at least for some conditions. To be continued in my next post.

Figure 3. A one-year-old child with Down syndrome. Note the very distinct occidental facial features which is why the condition was once called Mongolism, a name dropped due to its racist implications. (Wiki Commons)

References

[1] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nazi-Party

[2] Zhang, Sarah. “The Last Children of Down Syndrome.” Prenatal testing is changing who gets born and who doesn’t. This is just the beginning. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/the-last-children-of-down-syndrome/616928/ In the print edition, December 2020.

[3] Zhang, 2020.

[4] Zhang, 2020.

[5] Neel, James. Testimony in The Human Life Bill: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-Seventh Congress, First Session, on S. 158, a Bill to Provide that Human Life Shall be Deemed to Exist from Conception, April 23, 24; May 20, 21; June 1, 10, 12 and 18,. Serial No. J-97-16, 1981. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1982.

[6] Bergman, Jerry. “Darwinism Used to Justify Abortion.” The Human Life Review41(2):53-65, Spring 2015.

[7] Hopwood, Nick. Haeckel’s Embryos: Images, Evolution, and Fraud, The University of Chicago Press, Chicaho, IL, 2015.

[8] Pennisi, Elizabeth. Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered, Science, 277(5331):1435, 5 September 1997.

[9] Zhang, 2020.

[10] Zhang, 2020.

[11] Bergman, Jerry. C. S. Lewis: Anti-Darwinist: A Careful Examination of the Development of His Views on Darwinism, Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR, 2016.

[12] Zhang, 2020

[13] Zhang, 2020.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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