By Guy Page
The same two legislators who will offer a public apology for the Vermont Legislature’s shameful eugenics legislation are pushing a bill to enshrine a form of eugenic abortion in the Vermont Constitution.
According to a press release, “Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint…. will make a public apology on behalf of the legislature for Vermont’s state-sanctioned eugenics program on Saturday, October 16 at 3 pm on the State House steps in Montpelier.”
The press release demonstrates Krowinski and Balint feel terrible about a past Legislature’s support for eugenics:
“This past session we passed J.R.H.2, a resolution formally and sincerely apologizing to all individual Vermonters, their families, descendants, and communities who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices. It was a first step in the process of recognizing and holding ourselves accountable for the harmful practices that impacted and traumatized targeted groups during one of the darkest chapters in Vermont’s history.
“As we continue the work to address the impact of these eugenics policies, we believe it is critical that we meet publicly, inviting all Vermonters who wish to attend, and publicly apologize for the role that the legislature had in eugenics practices. It is important that we reflect and acknowledge the impact this had on so many individuals and families, and work to address the continuing impact of these policies on the communities that have historically been marginalized, discriminated against, and displaced in Vermont.”
Both Krowinski and Balint are driving forces behind Prop 5, the proposed “reproductive liberty” amendment to the Vermont Constitution. If approved by the Vermont Legislature next session and by Vermont voters at the November mid-term election, Prop 5 would almost certainly, barring some ill-defined “compelling state interest.” guarantee the constitutional right to terminate any pregnancy at any time for any reason.
Including mid- and late-term abortions of Down Syndrome children. About 90% of unborn children with Down Syndrome are aborted.
Prop 5 “means absolutely no limits whatsoever” on abortion, going far beyond what’s supported by Vermonters in general and the U.S. Supreme Court, law professor Helen Alvare said at the Life Symposium in South Burlington Oct. 2. “At the very least it would be extraordinarily difficult to have the slightest child protection, women protection intervention. To say that you are leaving the woman alone is not hyperbole.”
The case for Down Syndrome abortion was strongly and bluntly made by author Ruth Marcus in a March 9, 2018 Washington Post op-ed headlined “I would have aborted a Down Syndrome fetus”:
“Certainly, to be a parent is to take the risks that accompany parenting; you love your child for who she is, not what you want her to be. Accepting that essential truth is different from compelling a woman to give birth to a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised. Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate cognitive impairment, meaning an IQ between 55 and 70 (mild) or between 35 and 55 (moderate). This means limited capacity for independent living and financial security; Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family. I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted. That was not the choice I would have made.”
Just like Vermont’s eugenics advocates from a century ago, for whom Balint and Krowinski now apologize so profusely, supporters of Down Syndrome abortions argue the benefits of “public health.”
In his recently published book, “The Long Slide,”Tucker Carlson reports that in 1990, then-Arkansas state health director Jocelyn Elders testified before Congress: “Abortion has had an important, and positive, public health effect,” in that it has reduced “the number of children afflicted with severe defects.” She cited the following stat: The number of Down’s Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion.”
Elders’ remark went virtually unreported by the press. She was later appointed as Surgeon General under Bill Clinton.
Down Syndrome is not terminal. Children born with it are not non-functioning. In fact, medical advances have made it a comparatively mild condition. Carlson reports there is no lack of families waiting to adopt them.
And yet, he says, the public health system and insurance companies have been pushing pre-natal testing largely in the ‘hope’ that if Down Syndrome is found, the mother will abort. There’s plenty of encouragement from the Establishment to do so.
Unborn Down Syndrome children today are what one 1920’a German eugenicist called “life unworthy of life.” The added financial, health and family burdens they bring with them into the world will either be accepted, or terminally rejected.
The phrase “compelling state interest” in Proposal 5 is intended to PREVENT State regulation, not allow it.
Proposal 5, if passed would prevent ANY legal protection for unborn human lives throughout all nine months of pregnancy in Vermont.
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.”