By Wesley J. Smith
July 27, 2012 (First Things) Scientists recently announced that they are perfecting a maternal blood test that will permit technologists to map the entire genome of the developing fetus. Unlike amniocentesis, which requires the insertion of a needle into the womb to obtain amniotic fluid, the test would come earlier in the pregnancy and put the fetus at no risk—unless that is, it reveals unwanted genetic conditions or propensities. In such cases, the fetus’s very life would suddenly be at material and immediate risk.
In a culture in which all people are valued equally regardless of their health or capacities, fetal genetic testing would be a splendid way to reveal the need for prenatal treatments or to allow parents time to prepare for a child with special needs. That’s precisely how Todd and Sarah Palin reacted when the learned their youngest child Trig has Down syndrome. Long before he was born, they absorbed the emotional shock and then joyfully welcomed their son with open arms.
But such unconditional love cuts against the current cultural zeitgeist of our times. Consider: About 90 percent of fetuses testing for genetic conditions such as Down and dwarfism are terminated to the moral support, if not outright cheering, of much of society. It may seem harsh to say, but it is true nonetheless: We are in the midst of a great eugenic cleansing in which diagnosed imperfection often favors abortion. Article continues…