Chuck Colson
British medical researchers recently announced plans to use cutting-edge science to eliminate a condition my family is familiar with: autism. Actually, they are not “curing” autism or even making life better for autistic people. Their plan is to eliminate autism by eliminating autistic people.

There is no in utero test for autism as there is for Down syndrome. As I have previously told “BreakPoint” listeners, 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.

In the absence of such a test for autism, researchers at University College Hospital London are settling for what they call a “close enough” solution. They have applied for permission to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, to screen out male embryos in families with a history of autism.

Their “logic” is that since 90 percent of all autistic people are males, their testing would allow families with autistic children “to have a daughter free from the condition.” Of course, they would have also killed males who were not autistic. Talk about wholesale gender cleansing.

The critics are not convinced. Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People drew the what-should-be obvious inference: “Screening for autism would create a society where only perfection is valued.” In the brave new world of the researchers, it is reasonable to fear “that anyone who is different in any way will not be accepted.”

Here in the states, bioethicist Ben Mitchell said that “if unborn children are being eliminated for a genetic disposition to autism, no one is safe . . . Today autism, tomorrow intelligence below 70 I.Q., the next day male pattern baldness. When will this madness stop?”

The only way to avoid this is to understand that we have no business deciding “who should live and who should die.” And that’s exactly where proposals like this are leading us.

Once a disability is “diagnosed” in utero, women are subject to enormous pressures to have an abortion. According to a recent Business Week article, there’s even a name for women who refuse to have an abortion in these circumstances: “genetic outlaws.”

Despite all the rhetoric about “alleviating suffering,” the bottom line in targeting the disabled in utero is the bottom line. As Business Week puts it, “the social cost of accommodating [their] birth is increasingly being seen as exceeding [their] worth.”

Oh my! This utilitarian view of life inevitably leads us exactly where the Nazis were creating a master race. Can’t we see it?


Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
 
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