Two weeks ago Pastor John pointed to the horrific consequences of preference for boy babies combined with diagnostic tools in areas of the world with broad access to abortion and little regard for unborn girls. The term that is emerging to describe this destruction of unborn girls is gendercide.
On Tuesday the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released their study, Noninvasive Fetal Sex Determination Using Cell-Free Fetal DNA.
To summarize, JAMA determined there is a high degree of accuracy with few risks in tests that allow women to know the sex of their child very early in their pregnancies.
Generally, people of all convictions on abortion see the ethical (and occasionally moral) problems with such tests. Some who support abortion rights for any reason say this is an unfortunate consequence of that ‘right,’ but that right trumps the problem of sex selection. Others who support abortion find the idea of abortion for reasons of sex selection to be as repugnant as any pro-life supporter.
For some reason, when disability is part of the discussion, those ethical and moral problems seem to diminish.
“In an ideal world, if there’s a serious or life-threatening genetic problem with the fetus, I understand people will want to end this pregnancy and try again,” says Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “But when you’re talking about picking a baby’s sex, doctors shouldn’t offer the test, companies shouldn’t offer it, and we should tell people that’s not a good reason to have an abortion.” Bonnie Rochman, A Blood Test Determines a Baby’s Sex Earlier than Ever. But at What Cost? Time Magazine, August 10, 2011.
Dr. Caplan could so easily understand ‘ending a pregnancy’ (or, more precisely, killing a baby) with a genetic problem, but believes doctors shouldn’t even offer the test for purposes of sex selection.
But how long will that be the case? Our culture currently finds it abhorrent, but we’ve seen other issues change over time.
If we have one reason for the strong to determine who lives and who doesn’t, why not have several reasons? How is the choice to have all boys or all girls or one of each morally different than choosing not to allow an unborn baby with disabilities to live?
Yes, I know there are people who argue that disability has its own set of inherent problems that uniquely justify abortion – suffering, diminished quality of life, etc. The reduced ‘quality of life’ argument just falls to pieces when we actually ask people about how they perceive the quality of their lives – and individuals with disabilities and their families report it is often a very good life indeed. And can any parent guarantee their child without disabilities won’t suffer?
Again I will emphasize that the tests are not the problem. There are couples who know they are carriers of certain kinds of genetic abnormalities related to the sex of the child. In some cases there are prenatal treatments for those conditions. That is a really good reason to get the test – to help the baby get a good start in life.
All life is valuable. When tests are used appropriately, children and their parents benefit. Let us prepare the next generation right now for how to live in this complex soup of possibilities – that God is always good, he is always right, he is sovereign over all things, and he will help you do hard things for his glory and for your joy. Even the hard things the world and your own flesh tell you to avoid, he will help you persevere.