I get a daily email with health-related news stories from the professional body of which I am a member. This week, there was a report about the Harmony Prenatal Test - a non-invasive pre-natal test for Down's Syndrome. The person who compiled the email referred to the Telegraph, p2, 4th Sept and the Mail, p10, 4th September. I don't actually get these newspapers to I went to look online where I found this and this which may or may not be the same as the paper version. Considering the email report I was pleasantly surprised by the articles, as the headline in my inbox was Test that could end Down's syndrome.
I admit I was confused by this: tests are not a valid method of eradicating medical conditions as far as I know. Those include prevention and risk reduction (keeping your drinking water and your sewage seperate, preventing mosquito bites, avoiding sunburn), immunisation (smallpox), surgery (hip replacement, appendioctemy) and treatment (antibiotics for pneumonia, for instance). We can also manage conditions so that they are no longer the death sentences they once were eg. asthma, diabetes. But try as I might I do not know how this test could end Down's syndrome, unless the author wishes to infer that the reduced risk of miscarriage from the new test means that more women will choose to have it and therefore will also choose to have abortions if their baby is diagnosed with Down's syndrome. It's funny how someone would think it OK to write this but (I presume) they wouldn't suggest rounding up all those who post-natally tested positive for HIV/AIDS, malaria and sickle cell. (Unlike Down's syndrome, which is caused by a random genetic mutation, these three are passed from person to person, one way or another, and therefore killing everyone who tested positive for them would eventually lead to eradication.) Even those who advocate euthanasia do not try to claim that they want to eradicate illness, but that they want to alleviate suffering or promote choice, and would not find such wholesale murder acceptable. At this point it's not about whether an unborn child is a human being or not. It's really about what we perceive as suffering, and how we respond to it.
How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade
her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give
until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is
thinking of abortion, should be helped to love - that is, to give until it hurts
her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of
that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the
mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her
problems. ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.