by William Reed
As someone who had a sister born with Down Syndrome, there are few things that make me angrier than being told that she, or my parents, or I, would have been better off if she had been snuffed out before being born. And yet that practice is not only common, but expected, encouraged, and tax-funded.
The eugenics movement was definitely a tragic episode in this country as well as in this state. A major part of it was to discourage the “unfit” from reproducing, through denial of marriage licenses and in many cases involuntary sterilization. The unfit consisted of “feeble-minded,” criminals, poor, African Americans, Jews, and anyone else whose heritage or status did not match that of those who were setting the rules.
Much of the early twentieth century culture accepted this as normal. Germany, however, took it further, with obviously disastrous results, using American pseudo-science and prejudice to undergird their Final Solution.
When the logical conclusion of this philosophy became clear, Americans forcefully rejected eugenics. Or at least, they rejected the term. But the concept continues, strengthened by the legalization of abortion. Killing a child in the womb because of an unplanned pregnancy is bad enough, but to selectively abort based on something like a Down Syndrome diagnosis is eugenics writ large.
It is commendable for our legislative leaders to offer a formal apology to those affected by the evil of a century ago. What would be more commendable would be an apology to the thousands of Down Syndrome children who are, each year, denied seeing the light of day, and to the families who are denied the joy of children who are generally happy and loving of life.
What would be MOST commendable, of course, would be for this legislature to reverse the evil of today – its obsession with killing children, which they euphemize as “reproductive health care.”
The author is a retired computer analyst living in Orange.