NRL News

Ideas do have consequences—see Richard Dawkins

by | Sep 10, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

I suspect there was a time when I believed there was some sort of line—however far down the slippery slope it might be—where the anti-life ethos would hit a wall. Not any more. Likewise for its impact on ordinary people who now, as we wrote about yesterday, ‘want their lives back’ even if that takes the form of starving a baby to death, beginning in the child’s first month.

Chris Selley is a pro-abortion (and then some) columnist for the Canadian newspaper, the National Post. He is adept at uttering the most callous imaginable statements on his own.

So when the daft Richard Dawkins tweeted that “It would be immoral to bring it [a child diagnosed to have Down syndrome] into the world if you have the choice” [that is, “Abort it and try again”], I intended to read Selley’s take.

However, as is so often the case, there was so much news—much of it bad but also much that is good—that it was only this afternoon that I read Selley’s piece, headlined “Richard Dawkins and the Down syndrome delusion.” It is worth your while.

Bear in mind the sad truth that the overwhelming percentage of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

The paragraph that I’m sure received the most attention from readers was Selley’s blunt observation

“As Mr. Dawkins has protested, he was only suggesting parents take a course of action that the vast majority already do. Certainly he invited angry responses by framing it as a question of morality. But it seems odd for mass outrage to attend the notion that parents should abort fetuses, if they have Down syndrome, while the certain knowledge that parents are aborting fetuses because they have Down syndrome goes all but unacknowledged.”

What to say?

At one level, it is only to state the obvious that it makes us uncomfortable to publicly acknowledge that up to 90%+ of babies with Down syndrome are aborted. At some level, we are all grasp the schizophrenic duality of these children living longer, healthier, higher functioning lives—but there being fewer and fewer and fewer of them to live longer, healthier, higher functioning lives.

And Selley is absolutely correct: by stating that it is “immoral” not to abort these children, Dawkins stepped into a minefield. “Choosing” to abort, I suppose, is one thing, an obligation to do so, at least for most people, quite another.

For those who didn’t follow Dawkins’ quasi-retreat closely, Seeley’s column is very helpful. Before tracing Dawkins’ responses on his webpage, I should mention one other thing he said early on.

“There’s a profound moral difference between ‘This fetus should now be aborted’ and ‘This person should have been aborted long ago.’”

Pardon? It would be bad form to say the guy standing in front of Dawkins “should” have been aborted as opposed to the abstraction (“the fetus”) whom it is perfectly okay to say there is a moral obligation to off?

Or, as Seeley put it, “But if that person was diagnosed with Down syndrome as a fetus, Mr. Dawkins considers his birth to have been an immoral act by his parents. That’s a hell of a thing to say.”

Back to what Dawkins did not take back—his central point: “Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort.”

Anyone who has followed Dawkins knows that would be his position. He is locked into cumulative sums of “happiness” and death as the preferred option for babies who have many conditions, not just Down syndrome. Dawkins wrote

“I personally would … say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

People like Dawkins never put the brakes on at abortions “early in the pregnancy.” Indeed, they often offer elaborate rationalizations why it’s perfectly acceptable—indeed obligatory—to kill “imperfect” children after they are born.

The grounds differ, but they include the kid isn’t a real “person” (for a variety of pseudo-reason); the family’s cumulative happiness will be enhanced (just return the damaged goods to the biological junk pile and try again); and, of course, they’re doing this for the child.

One other point. Dawkins, of course, was miffed that critics leveled the self-evident charge that his advice is steeped in eugenics. But those same critics could have (if they didn’t) draw the conclusion that among the many ugly undertows to his thinking is a deep, profound anti-humanism.

Thus it came as no surprise a while back when Dawkins tweeted “With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig” which could have come straight out of the playbook of philosopher Peter Singer, who has made the same grotesque comparison.

These are dangerous people who prove once again the profound wisdom of Richard Weaver: Ideas have consequences.

Categories: Abortion