Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Down syndrome and Europe

There's a lot of talk about eugenics in Europe, from Denmark's 'kinder system of eugenics' which means that 50% more babies with the condition are aborted thanks to new prenatal testing, to Britain's debate on whether higher birth rates of children with Trisomy 21 will harm the national health care system. For make no mistake: despite all the progress which children with Down Syndrome are now making in schools and homes up and down the country, the medical profession in general still has a visceral bias in favour of eugenic termination, which its practitioners are often startlingly crude in expressing. This is not based on a realistic and up-to-date assessment of the possibilities open to those with Down Syndrome, still less of the happiness which such people can and do bring to families and even communities as a whole: it is a function of the fact – which is undeniable – that people with Down Syndrome are likely to cost the NHS more in subsequent medical treatment than a child without any disabilities.
Only 70 years after the Holocaust, once again, certain Europeans are considered "life unworthy of life".
Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.
George Santayana

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