Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable. –G. K. Chesterton 1909
Each year in America fewer and fewer disabled infants are born. The reason is eugenic abortion. Doctors and their patients use prenatal technology to screen unborn children for disabilities, then they use that information to abort a high percentage of them. Without much scrutiny or debate, a eugenics designed to weed out the disabled has become commonplace.
Not wishing to publicize a practice most doctors prefer to keep secret, the medical community releases only sketchy information on the frequency of eugenic abortion against the disabled. But to the extent that the numbers are known, they indicate that the vast majority of unborn children prenatally diagnosed as disabled are killed.
Medical researchers estimate that 80% or more of babies now prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. (They estimate that since 1989, 70% of Down-syndrome fetuses have been aborted.) A high percentage of fetuses with cystic fibrosis are aborted, as evident in Kaiser Permanente’s admission to the New York Times that 95 percent of its patients in Northern California choose abortion after they find out through prenatal screening that their fetus will have the disease.
The frequent use of eugenic abortion can also be measured in dwindling populations with certain disabilities. Since the 1960s, the number of Americans with spina bifida has markedly declined. This dropping trend line corresponds to the rise of prenatal screening. Owing to prenatal technology and eugenic abortion, some rare conditions, such as the genetic disorder Tay-Sachs, are even vanishing in America, according to doctors.
“There really isn’t any entity that is charged with monitoring what has been happening,” says Andrew Imparato, head of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), “A lot of people prefer that that data not be collected. But we’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg. This is a new eugenics, and I don’t know where it is going to end.”
“I think of it as commercial eugenics,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the International Center for Technology Assessment. “Whenever anybody thinks of eugenics, they think of Adolf Hitler. This is a commercial eugenics. But the result is the same, an intolerance for those who don’t fit the norm. It is less open and more subtle. Try to get any numbers on reproductive issues. Try to get actual numbers on sex-selection abortions. They are always difficult to get. If you are involved in that commerce, do you really want people to go: So you aborted how many disabled children? That’s the last piece of information people want out there.”
Indeed, intellectual arguments in favor of eugenic abortion often generate great public outcry. Princeton professor Peter Singer drew fire for saying, “It does not seem quite wise to increase any further draining of limited resources by increasing the number of children with impairments.” Bob Edwards, the embryologist who created the first test-tube baby through in vitro fertilization, has also drawn protests for predicting that “soon it will be a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease. We are entering a world where we have to consider the quality of our children.”
But these comments, far from being unthinkable, reflect unspoken mainstream attitudes and practice. Only through political gaffes (and occasional news stories) is eugenic abortion ever mentioned, such as the time in 2003 when a blundering Hillary Clinton objected to a ban on partial-birth abortion because it didn’t contain an exemption for late-term abortions aimed at the disabled. Women should not be “forced” to carry a “child with severe abnormalities,” she said.
In an interview with TAS, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania recalled his 2003 exchange with Hillary Clinton on the Senate floor in which she endorsed eugenic abortion. “It was pretty revealing. She was saying there had to be an exemption for disabled children being aborted as opposed to healthy children being aborted,” he says. “When she realized what she was advocating for, she had to put in the general niceties. But I don’t think you can read her comments and come to any other conclusion than that the children with disabilities should have less constitutional protection than children who are healthy.”
He added that “the principal reason the Democrats defended the partial-birth abortion procedure was for pregnancies that have ‘gone awry,’ which is not about something bad happening to the life of the mother but about their finding out the child is not in the condition that they expected, that it was somehow less than wanted and what they had hoped for.”
What Hillary Clinton blurted out is spoken more softly, though no less coldly, in the privacy of doctors’ offices. Charles Strom, medical director of Quest Diagnostics, which specializes in prenatal screening, told the New York Times last year that “People are going to the doctor and saying, ‘I don’t want to have a handicapped child, what can you do for me?'” This attitude is shared by doctors who now view disabled infants and children as puzzling accidents that somehow slipped through the system. University of Chicago professor Leon Kass, in his book Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity, writes that “at my own university, a physician making rounds with medical students stood over the bed of an intelligent, otherwise normal ten-year-old boy with spina bifida. ‘Were he to have been conceived today,’ the physician casually informed his entourage, ‘he would have been aborted.'”
The impulse behind prenatal screening in the 1970s was eugenic. After the Roe v. Wade decision, which pumped energy into the eugenics movement, doctors scrambled to advance prenatal technology in response to consumer demand, mainly from parents who didn’t want the burdens of raising children with Down syndrome. Now prenatal screening can identify hundreds of conditions. This has made it possible for doctors to abort children not only with chronic disabilities but common disabilities and minor ones. Among the aborted are children screened for deafness, blindness, dwarfism, cleft palates, and defective limbs.
In some cases the aborted children aren’t disabled at all but are mere carriers of a disease or stand a chance of getting one later in life. Prenatal screening has made it possible to abort children on guesses and probabilities. A doctor speaking to the New York Times cited a defect for a eugenic abortion that was at once minor and speculative: a women suffering from a condition that gave her an extra finger asked doctors to abort two of her children on the grounds that they had a 50-50 chance of inheriting that condition.
The law and its indulgence of every conceivable form of litigation has also advanced the new eugenics against the disabled. Working under “liability alerts” from their companies, doctors feel pressure to provide extensive prenatal screening for every disability, lest parents or even disabled children hit them with “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life” suits. In a wrongful birth suit, parents can sue doctors for not informing them of their child’s disability and seek compensation from them for all the costs, financial and otherwise, stemming from a life they would have aborted had they received that prenatal information. Wrongful life suits are brought by children (through their parents) against doctors for all the “damages” they’ve suffered from being born. (Most states recognize wrongful birth suits, but for many states, California and New Jersey among the exceptions, wrongful life suits are still too ridiculous to entertain.)
In 2003, Ob-Gyn Savita Khosla of Hackensack, New Jersey, agreed to pay $1.2 million to a couple and child after she failed to flag Fragile X syndrome, a form of mental retardation caused by a defective gene on the X chromosome. The mother felt entitled to sue Khosla because she indicated on a questionnaire that her sibling was mentally retarded and autistic, and hence Khosla should have known to perform prenatal screening for Fragile X so that she could abort the boy. Khosla settled, giving $475,000 to the parents and $750,000 to the child they wished that they had aborted.
Had the case gone to court, Khosla would have probably lost the suit. New Jersey has been notoriously welcoming to wrongful birth suits ever since the Roe v. Wade decision, after which New Jersey’s Supreme Court announced that it would not “immunize from liability those in the medical field providing inadequate guidance to persons who would choose to exercise their constitutional right to abort fetuses which, if born, would suffer from genetic defects.”
According to the publication Medical Malpractice Law & Strategy, “court rulings across the country are showing that the increased use of genetic testing has substantially exposed physicians’ liability for failure to counsel patients about hereditary disorders.” The publication revealed that many wrongful birth cases “are settled confidentially.” And it predicted that doctors who don’t give their patients the information with which to consider the eugenic option against disabled children will face more lawsuits as prenatal screening becomes the norm. “The human genome has been completely mapped,” it quotes Stephen Winnick, a lawyer who handled one of the first wrongful birth cases. “It’s almost inevitable that there will be an increase in these cases.”
The combination of doctors seeking to avoid lawsuits and parents seeking burden-free children means that once prenatal screening identifies a problem in a child the temptation to eugenic abortion becomes unstoppable. In an atmosphere of expected eugenics, even queasy, vaguely pro-life parents gravitate towards aborting a disabled child. These parents get pressure from doctors who, without even bothering to ask, automatically provide abortion options to them once the prenatal screening has diagnosed a disability (one parent, in a 1999 study, complained of a doctor showing her a video depicting the rigors of raising an afflicted child as a way of convincing her to choose abortion), and they feel pressure from society at large which having accepted eugenic abortion looks askance at parents with disabled children.
The right to abort a disabled child, in other words, is approaching the status of a duty to abort a disabled child. Parents who abort their disabled children won’t be asked to justify their decision. Rather, it is the parents with disabled children who must justify themselves to a society that tacitly asks: Why did you bring into the world a child you knew was disabled or might become disabled?
Andrew Kimbrell points out that many parents are given the complicated information prenatal screening yields with little to no guidance from doctors. “We’re leaving parents with complete confusion. Numerous parents are told by doctors, ‘We think there is some fault on the 50th chromosome of your child.’ A number of polls have shown that people don’t understand those odds.”
“There is enormous confusion out there and nobody is out there to help them,” he says. “This is a huge tangle. And it leads people to abort out of confusion: ‘I guess I better abort, because I don’t know. It sounds really bad and I don’t know what the percentages mean.'”
The New Eugenics isn’t slowing down but speeding up. Not content to wait to see if a child is fit for life, doctors are exploring the more proactive eugenics of germline genetic engineering (which tries to create desirable traits in an embryo) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), which is used to select the most desirable embryos after extensive genetic testing has been done before they are implanted in mothers’ wombs.
“The next stage is to actually start tinkering genetically with these embryos to create advantages such as height,” says Kimbrell. PGD is a “gateway technology” that will advance the new eugenics to the point “where children are literally selected and eventually designed according to a parent’s desires and fears,” he says. (Meanwhile, doctors are simultaneously reporting that children born through in vitro fertilization are experiencing higher rates of birth defects than the average population, suggesting that for every problem scientists try to solve through dubious means they create multiple new ones.)
Many countries have banned PGD. But American fertility clinics are offering it. Two-thirds of fertility clinics using PGD in the world are in the U.S., says Kimbrell. “Reproductive technology is an unregulated Wild West scenario where people can do pretty much anything they want and how they want it,” he says.
Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, coined the term eugenics in the 1880s. Sparking off his cousin’s theory of evolution, he proposed improving the human race through eugenics, arguing that “what nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly.” As eugenics passes through each of its stages — from sterilizing the enfeebled at the beginning of the 20th century to aborting the disabled at the end of it and the beginning of the 21st — man is indeed playing God but without any of his providence or care.
Andrew Imparato of AAPD wonders how progressives got to this point. The new eugenics aimed at the disabled unborn tell the disabled who are alive, “disability is a fate worse than death,” he says. “What kind of message does this send to people living with spina bifida and other disabilities? It is not a progressive value to think that a disabled person is better off dead.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky, the great Russian writer of the 19th century, warned that the denial of sin and hell in education and religion would end in a world Socialism where men would surrender freedom for a false security. He pictured anti-Christ returning to the world and speaking to Christ, thus:
“Dost thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? And men will come crawling to our feet, saying to us: ‘Give us bread! Take our freedom.” – The Grand Inquisitor
In this sobering talk, Archbishop Fulton Sheen examines our death-oriented society, from the advent of abortion to the midnight of our headlong rush to self-extinction.
Margaret Higgins Sanger was a radical feminist, eugenicist, Marxist, and the founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She talks to Mike Wallace about why she became an advocate for birth control, over-population, and against the Catholic Church and morality.
Margaret Higgins Sanger was a radical feminist, eugenicist, Marxist, and the founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Sanger was born Margaret Higgins in 1879 in Corning, New York. Her parents, Michael Hennessy Higgins and Anne Purcell Higgins, were socialists and early activists in the women’s suffrage movement.
In 1902 Miss Higgins (i.e., Margaret Sanger) earned a degree as a registered nurse and married architect William Sanger; the following year she gave birth to her first child. Later acknowledging that she had neglected her children (one of whom died of pneumonia at age four), Sanger declared that she was not a “fit person for love or home or children or anything which needs attention or consideration.”
In 1912 Sanger and her family settled in New York City. She became a member of both the Women’s Committee and the Marxist Committee of the New York Socialist Party. “Our living-room,” she would write in her 1938 autobiography, “became a gathering place where liberals, anarchists, Socialists and I.W.W.’s [Industrial Workers of the World members] could meet.”
Also in 1912, Sanger began writing a women’s-rights column for the New York Call entitled, “What Every Girl Should Know.” In addition, she wrote and distributed a pamphlet titled Family Limitation, which provided details about contraception methods and devices. By publishing this pamphlet, Sanger ran afoul of the Comstock Law of 1873, which classified such material as obscene and barred its dissemination via the U.S. mail.
After separating from her husband in 1913, Sanger began writing an eight-page monthly feminist-socialist newsletter called The Woman Rebel, which often promoted contraceptive use and sex education. Using the slogan “No Gods and No Masters,” The Woman Rebel was distributed through the mail, and once again Sanger came under fire for violation of the Comstock Law. In 1914 she was indicted on criminal charges but promptly fled to England.
Sanger returned to the U.S. in October 1915, and the following year she opened a women’s “birth-control” (a phrase she coined) clinic in Brooklyn, the first of its kind in the United States. The government deemed the clinic illegal, however, and shut it down nine days later; Sanger spent a month in jail for her transgression.
In 1917 Sanger founded the Birth Control Review, a publication favoring contraception as a means of limiting society’s birth rate.
In 1921 she created the American Birth Control League, which eventually would evolve into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
Also in 1921, Sanger established both the Clinical Research Bureau (which was the first legal birth-control clinic in the U.S.) and the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control.
In 1930 Sanger was elected President of the Birth Control International Information Center; from 1939 to 1942 she was an honorary delegate of the Birth Control Federation of America; and from 1952 to 1959 she served as President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Sanger’s reasons for advocating birth control stemmed, in part, from her views on race and heredity. She was a devoted eugenicist who advocated forced sterilization — of the poor and the mentally deficient, in particular, who she believed were likely to produce “subnormal” offspring — for the purpose of improving society’s overall gene pool. Examples of her ideas on selective breeding are found throughout her columns and newsletters. For instance, she wrote:
“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. Herein lies the key of civilization. For upon the foundation of an enlightened and voluntary motherhood shall a future civilization emerge.”
“The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind,” Sanger elaborated.
The eugenic theme figured prominently in Sanger’s Birth Control Review, wherein she published such articles as “Some Moral Aspects of Eugenics” (June 1920); “The Eugenic Conscience” (February 1921); “The Purpose of Eugenics” (December 1924); “Birth Control and Positive Eugenics” (July 1925); “Birth Control: The True Eugenics” (August 1928); and many others.
At a March 1925 international birth-control event in New York City, Sanger advocated — for the “salvation of American civilization” — the sterilization of those “unfit” to procreate. In addition, she condemned the “irresponsible and reckless” rates of procreation among those “whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers.” She was referring specifically to Catholics who rejected the use of contraception. “There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people,” she added, “that the procreation of this group should be stopped.”
In her quest to engineer a civilization devoid of “subnormal children,” Sanger often worked jointly with groups and individuals whose goals vis a vis eugenics overlapped with her own, even if their larger agendas differed from hers. In 1926, for instance, she presented a lecture on birth control to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. In September 1930 she invited Nazi anthropologist Eugen Fischer (whose ideas were cited by the Nazis to legitimize the extermination of Jews) to meet with her at her home.
Sanger’s commitment to eugenic “sexual science” dovetailed seamlessly with her Marxist vision. While she had been heartened by the success of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, she doubted that a revolution for a new communist order in the U.S. could be carried out by a proletariat class of limited intellectual capacity. Thus she sought to elevate the quality of the overall gene pool by means of eugenics. “In pointing out the limitations and fallacies of the orthodox Marxian opinion,” Sanger wrote in The Pivot of Civilization, “my purpose is not to depreciate the efforts of Socialists aiming to create a new society, but rather to emphasize what seems to me to be the greatest and most neglected truth of our day: unless sexual science is incorporated … and the pivotal importance of birth control is recognized in any program of reconstruction, all efforts to create a new world and a new civilization are foredoomed to failure.”
In January 1939 two of Sanger’s organizations, the Clinical Research Bureau and the American Birth Control League (ABCL), merged to form the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA).
At this point, Sanger turned her attention specifically to the reproductive practices of black Americans. She selected former ABCL director Clarence J. Gamble (of the Procter and Gamble company) to become BCFA’s southern regional director. That November, Gamble drew up a memorandum titled “Suggestion for Negro Project,” whose ultimate aim was to decrease the black birth rate significantly. Anticipating that black leaders would be suspicious of anyone exhorting African Americans to have fewer children, Gamble suggested that BCFA place black leaders in high positions within the organization, so as to give the appearance that they were in charge of the group’s agendas. BCFA presented birth control as a vehicle for the upward economic mobility of blacks.
Sanger authored several books during her lifetime, including: What Every Mother Should Know (1917); Woman and the New Race (1920); Happiness in Marriage (1926); Motherhood in Bondage (1928); My Fight For Birth Control (1931); and Autobiography (1938). Another book, The Pivot of Civilization, was published posthumously in 2006.
Sanger today is considered an icon of the feminist Left. Former Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt once said, “I stand by Margaret Sanger’s side,” leading “the organization that carries on Sanger’s legacy.” Planned Parenthood’s first African American President, Faye Wattleton, stated that she too was “proud” to be “walking in the footsteps of Margaret Sanger.”
Planned Parenthood actively celebrates Sanger’s legacy each year by presenting its “highest honor,” the “argaret Sanger Award, to an individual who best promotes the organization’s values and ideals. Past recipients of this award include: actress Kathleen Turner; Robin Chandler Duke, former President of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (and President Bill Clinton‘s ambassador to Norway); Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion; and Hillary Clinton (who won the award in 2009).
Sanger died in 1966 in Tucson, Arizona of arteriosclerosis. According to her New York Times obituary, she sought to encourage birth control and/or abortion among “subnormal children.”
Read more: “The Negro Project- Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Plan for Black Americans