Amy Julia Becker, a Master of Divinity candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary, author and mother, has an excellent essay at the First Things blog. She is appropriately dismayed at a recent letter to the editor of the New York Times by an Oxford University geneticist. Consider her opening two paragraphs:
In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, William Motley, a geneticist of
, writes, “Fighting Down syndrome with prenatal screening does not ‘border on eugenics.’ It is a ‘search-and-destroy mission’ on the disease, not on a category of citizens. . . . ” Similarly, a pediatric cardiologist writes about Down syndrome: “Tremendous social, medical and monetary burdens are inevitable parts of this disorder . . . these (prenatal) tests are invaluable, should be made available to all, and may help individuals possibly avoid a very significant life-changing illness.” Much as Mr. Motley might want to claim that prenatal screening is not about a category of citizens, the practical result of what he advises is indeed to eliminate an entire group of persons. Oxford University
In a recent collection of essays titled Theology, Disability, and the New Genetics, Hans Reinders states a countervailing claim: “Life is good as it is.” Life is good as it is. It sounds simple. Theologically, it rings true. And yet the vast majority of individuals in our culture choose to terminate a pregnancy if they learn that their baby will be born with a disability. Why? If life is good as it is, why is it considered good by many in our culture to ensure that children with disabilities are not born at all?
What Ms. Becker sees so clearly, and should be an outrage to all, is that prenatal screening for the purpose of terminating a pregnancy is not a "search-and-destory mission" on a disease, but on a person--indeed, a whole class of persons.
Here's how she closes:
Life is good as it is, and we must testify to the goodness of every human life through a counter-cultural narrative based upon God’s goodness. Once we take into account the real concern for people with disabilities who suffer, we can then bear witness, through word and deed, to the power of life’s goodness under the providential hand of a loving God.
In 2009 let's join Ms. Becker in promoting "a counter-cultural narrative based upon God's goodness." We must. For "life is good as it is."
[Book recommendation: Theology, Disability and the New Genetics.]