Abortion for boutique eugenics

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The following is an editorial written by one or more Issuepedia contributors. The first section is the editorial itself, written in an attempt to be as persuasive as possible regarding its point-of-view. Comments, rebuttals, and additional information are in subsequent sections.

This editorial originally appeared on the abortion issue page.

Responses are here


Currently there is an in utero test for Down syndrome. That testing, combined with abortion-on-demand, has made people with Down syndrome an endangered population. By some estimates, 90 percent of these people – who, if allowed to live, can live happy and healthy lives – are aborted. What is to stop parents from aborting children who are are a specific sex? As science progresses, there are more and more tests that can be performed in utero. What is the next issue what will provoke abortions? Hair color? Political affiliation?

The next issue appears to be that doctors want to "screen out" all male embryos that may contract autism due to family history. [1]

Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in an attempt to limit the number of "morons" in the population. Sanger wrote "Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying... demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism." in her book, The Pivot of Civilization (page 113). She was on record as stating that sterilization or birth prevention was necessary for those that she felt were unfit, stating "it is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth, children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them."

Since sterilization without consent is illegal, and would be hard if not possible to get people to consent to, she went the other route, killing the unborn children while still in the womb.


  • Perhaps as many as 90% of Down syndrome sufferers can live happy/healthy lives if not aborted.
  • The legal practice of abortion allows parents to abort babies solely to choose for sex (gender); what is to stop parents from making even more arbitrary choices about what constitutes a satisfactory child? (the "boutique child selection" issue)
  • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, apparently saw abortion as the only viable alternative to what she really wanted, which was forced sterilization. (I hope the following explanation isn't a straw man; please feel free to edit for accuracy.) This shows the moral depths from which the practice of abortion emerges, the depths to which it is necessary to go in order to contemplate it, and the true motives of so-called "pro-choice", pro-contraception organizations like Planned Parenthood – and thereby throws serious doubt upon both the "pro-choice" and "pro-contraception" points of view themselves.


  • ...Down syndrome sufferers can live happy/healthy lives if not aborted.:
    • As long as it is the parents making this decision, it is not clear what the harm of aborting Down syndrome children (or children with any other debilitating but screenable condition, regardless of how happy a life they might lead) would be.
    • Just because someone with a screenable condition could live a happy and healthy life doesn't mean that they will, nor does it mean that they might not actually prefer to be aborted so the family can start over and try again (and give birth to a kid who might have a much happier, more fulfilling life). We can't know for sure, because we can't ask them (especially the ones who are born unable to communicate, or born with insufficient mental capacity to be able to grasp the question). We have to use our best judgment; you can't not decide in these cases.
  • boutique child selection:
    • Any tool can be misused: just because a tool can be used for bad things does not mean that it should be outlawed for all uses. You have to weigh the costs and benefits. If a given tool is found to be prone to certain misuses, then the issue to be addressed is how to prevent those specific misuses without losing the overall benefits of the tool.
    • This is also a slippery slope argument: Is there any evidence that parents, having been given the authority to abort, are abusing it in this way? Lest anyone forget, pregnancy is not an easy thing to go through. Please find any abortion case where the potential mother wasn't torn to pieces about the decision. (And if there is such a case, is this a mother you really want raising a child?) Mothers (and most fathers) are simply not going to carelessly abort their potential progeny the way one might reject cars on a dealer's lot.
    • It should also be noted that female infanticide (one form of abortion for sex selection) is practiced in many countries where abortion is not legal. Promoting sex education, family planning, legalizing abortion, and raising the general level of education have been shown to be the best recipe for reducing this sort of abuse.
  • Sanger / Planned Parenthood: I have to confess to a bit of confusion here, despite the attempted summary; here are some points which that section might be making:
    • Various possible criticisms of Planned Parenthood: basically, the activities or attitudes of any particular organization don't have anything to do with the goodness/badness of abortion itself. If there is documentation that PP has actively engaged in promoting genocide, eugenics, or anything else bad, please document it on the Planned Parenthood page (which anyone can create if it hasn't been done yet). Popular support for "a woman's right to choose" does not derive from nefarious propaganda by organizations with world-dominating agendas, no matter how much "pro-lifers" would like to believe it. It derives, rather, from individuals caring about quality (of life) over quantity, and respecting the spirit over the body; see User:Woozle/Position Statement#Life Issues for my (brief) take on the subject.
    • Various possible criticisms of Margaret Sanger: much the same applies. I could defend at least some of her points of view, but it's a separate issue. It's also difficult to discuss much of what she says because it is taken out of context -- what solution, exactly, is she proposing? I think she is suggesting social programs to encourage birth control, selectively targeting the poorer segments of society -- a solution which hardly seems inhumane or unfair, as it reduces the burden on those less able to cope, and does so voluntarily -- but perhaps that's not what she was arguing. Again, find some more details and we can discuss it on a future Margaret Sanger page.
    • People who want abortion really just want forced sterilization, but settle for abortion because forced sterilization is not only illegal but something very few people would consent to. Assuming the writer was actually trying to make this point (my apologies if I erroneously read it into what was written), some responses:
      • This falsely frames the issue as one where childlessness is being imposed on the individual from above. Please show some evidence that this is the case; as far as I am aware, virtually all the support for legal abortion comes from individuals who want to maintain it as a freedom, not as something forced on anyone. Suggesting that pro-choice people want abortion to be forced on anyone is disingenuous at best.
      • Yes, excessive reproduction by those in poverty is an issue -- but it has been shown again and again that the way out of that is to educate the poor. Not only does this have the obvious effect of being a good thing for the country as a whole (an educated population is less likely to make stupid decisions at the voting booth), it also tends to reduce the reproduction rates (as has been shown in country after country). To reduce abortion rates (which is something even pro-lifers want and are working towards!), the solution is education (especially sex education) plus contraceptionnot outlawing or restricting abortion.


Need a source for this quote: "it is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth, children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them." Wikiquote does attribute it to her, but does not have a source – hence it is impossible to find the rest of the context and determine what, exactly, she was proposing.