Ross Douthat writes about the supporters of selective abortion of genetically abnormal fetuses:
"[T]he more you accept pro-choice premises, the more likely you are to share the point of view expressed by the other commenter Ezra quotes - namely, that aborting fetuses with genetic abnormalities is no different than two people at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to their offspring choosing not to procreate in the first place."
Julian Sanchez, in a moment of odd blindness writes:
"Ross Douthat is defending his application of the term "eugenicist" to people who don't have any quarrel with selective abortion of fetuses with Down Syndrome, in part on the grounds that some people who support reproductive freedom take the position that, in fact, there is nothing wrong with the "eugenic" goal of seeking to ensure that the next generation is genetically healthier or smarter, provided only voluntary means are used. I've argued this myself, but as I also noted, most invocations of the term today are attempts to link benign non-coercive practices with genuinely ugly ones. I may be willing to say "there's nothing wrong with eugenics" here, where I'm able to provide proper context. But because the term is so tightly bound up with compulsion and racism, it would still be confusing at best, and a misleading smear at worst, to describe me as a eugenicist. There's also a sense in which a big fan of the song "Right Here Waiting" could be called a "Marxist," but this would be a signally unhelpful label without a good deal of clarification."
So, if you assume beforehand that abortion is the equivalent of removing a tumor, then it can't be murder and quite obviously destroying an unborn Down Syndrome child with whatever intentions cannot honestly be compared to eugenics. Ok...
But that was Douthat's point. If one begins with pro-choice premises (abortion is not the killing of human life), one is more likely to believe aborting fetuses on a selective basis is no different than a genetically at-risk couple refraining from procreating, or as Julian suggests (in an apparent attempt at a gotchya) selecting your mate with your future child in mind.
This controversy is plainly another front in the ongoing war between pro-life and pro-choice movements. If a living human being is being killed, whatever the reason, murder has been committed. If the motive is to eliminate "defective" babies, even out of a supposed compassion for the baby (because Down kids live terrible lives or because they are so hard to take care of?), it is eugenics by any reasonable definition. The eugenics analogy/charge will keep coming up because it cuts to the heart of the contradiction at the heart of the pro-choice position (that abortion is voluntary), and those with their heads somewhat outside of their asses are able to sense this and become naturally squeamish. That's the real point, sans obfuscation.
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