GenEn/Nietzsche : LUSENET : U of C General Studies 500 : One Thread

The following article is on a Catholic news service to which I belong. Obviously the report is from the Catholic viewpoint, but the article fits well into conversations about GenEn with the last line literally leaping off the screen at me and screaming "Nietzsche!!!!""


PARIS, NOV. 25, 2000 ( The highest French appeal court has endorsed the idea of selective abortion for handicapped children.

The BBC reported Nov. 17 the case of Nicolas Perruche, who was born deaf, partially blind and mentally disabled in 1983 after a doctor and a medical laboratory failed to realize that his mother had caught German measles during her pregnancy.

His parents, Josette and Christian Perruche, said the failure to diagnose the disease damaged their child in the womb and stopped them from opting for abortion. The courts had already decided doctors were at fault; medical staff incorrectly believed that she had already been immunized against rubella.

Now, the parents have won a fresh appeal for compensation on the grounds that doctors and the medical laboratory should have prevented the birth. The BBC quoted the boy's mother as saying: "Would my son really have wanted to live if he'd known he had all these disabilities?"

Among those who have expressed concern about the decision is Segolene Ayme, a geneticist who works closely with couples with congenital illnesses. "This will push my colleagues to decide more often to terminate pregnancies when they are unsure about the health status of the child," she said. "And this is a very common situation."

The ruling was denounced by France's main anti-abortion group as a dangerous precedent that created "institutional eugenics." The court was "implying to all handicapped people that their life is worth less than their death," the Alliance for the Right to Life said, The Times reported Nov. 18.

Planned Parenthood's founder The term eugenics is used to describe the movement that seeks to improve the human race by encouraging the healthy and materially well-off to have children, while at the same time pressuring others to have few or no offspring. The term was coined by the English scientist Francis Galton toward the end of the 19th century and the eugenics ideology quickly spread.

From the start, racial bias formed an integral part of the eugenics mentality. It also was a key element in the programs of those who pioneered family planning and legalized abortion, such as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.

Although the reaction against Hitler temporarily discredited eugenics, it has enjoyed a comeback in recent times. A demonstration of this came in a recent declaration by Dan Wilder, an ethicist with the World Health Organization. Wilder was quoted Oct. 13 by The Age newspaper of Australia as saying that the state of a nation's gene pool should be subject to government policies rather than left to the whim of individuals.

It is not only poorer countries that are at risk. The development of test-tube babies and genetic testing have made it possible in Western nations to eliminate those unborn children who are seen as "inferior."

A case in point is a French woman who recently gave birth to the nation's first genetically screened baby, after she lost two other children to a deadly genetic disease. Associated Press reported Nov. 15 that the baby boy, known only by his first name, Valentin, was born two days earlier at Antoine-Beclere Hospital in Clamart, outside Paris.

The couple, who have no trouble conceiving naturally, underwent in vitro fertilization and a process called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, in an effort to ensure their baby would not have the gene defect. Using this method doctors implant only those fertilized ova that are healthy, while the others are destroyed.

"Superhuman" Britain is also practicing these methods, BBC reported Nov. 18. A recent BBC television series, "Superhuman," highlighted the use of PGD in the case of Susan and Chris Paget. Their first son died from cystic fibrosis at the age of four months.

Cystic fibrosis is the most common genetic defect in northern Europe, and the gene is carried by one-in-20 of the population. The odds rise to one-in-four if both parents carry the gene.

The BBC program explained that at London's Hammersmith Hospital pre-implantation genetic diagnosis allows doctors to select a healthy embryo to implant in the womb of the mother. Although the BBC noted that new treatments mean that many people with cystic fibrosis live into adulthood, it seems that doctors are now concentrating on means to eliminate those embryos diagnosed with this defect.

The report explained how a large number of eggs are needed for fertilization for PGD; consequently, Susan's ovaries were stimulated with a drug. Afterward, 15 eggs were collected in the operating room before being fertilized with sperm from her husband and placed in an incubator for three days.

Six embryos were produced and, from the embryos, one cell was removed for testing. On the second attempt, the doctors determined that there were two healthy embryos free from cystic fibrosis. The embryos were placed in Susan's uterus, although only one baby was eventually born (the report does not explain what happened to the other embryo).

Condoms for poorer people Eugenics is not limited to abortion and PGD. Reports have surfaced of a campaign by Planned Parenthood in the U.S. state of Ohio to give away condoms to people living in poor areas. Planned Parenthood was offering a coupon redeemable at its offices in three Ohio counties for a dozen condoms and a $5 McDonald's gift certificate, according to a July 31 report in The Washington Times.

An associate of the pro-life group Human Life International, Malia Blom, found the promotional bag with a bright yellow coupon while visiting friends in a poor black neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, in June.

Aided by a grant from Planned Parenthood headquarters in New York, the Akron affiliate bought the certificates and held them for redemption at their local offices. Each bag came with literature on sexually transmitted disease prevention, gynecology exams and contraception, a pen, mirror, notepad and condom-case key chain containing a bright green condom. All the items printed with Planned Parenthood phone numbers.

Pope's warning In his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" (No. 14) Pope John Paul II warns that techniques of artificial reproduction open the door to new threats against life. Apart from other moral objections, the Pope noted that embryos are placed at a high risk of death and that so-called spare embryos are then destroyed or used for research. In this way human life is reduced "to the level of simple 'biological material' to be freely disposed of," he wrote.

Eugenic abortions, the encyclical continues, are justified on the basis of a mentality "which accepts life only under certain conditions "and rejects it when it is affected by any limitation, handicap or illness."

John Paul II explains that one of the sources of this reasoning is a notion of freedom which "gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them" (No. 19). The encyclical notes that this attitude, while it can have elements of altruism or human compassion, when taken as a whole "betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of 'the strong' against the weak who have no choice but to submit." ZE00112520

-- Anonymous, November 27, 2000

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