The Magazine

Politically Correct Eugenics

Brownback and Kennedy do the right thing.

Mar 31, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 28 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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What is it like to have Down's syndrome? How terrible is it? Is it terrible at all? It depends, I suppose, on how well loved you are. . . . I can't say I'm glad that Eddie has Down's syndrome, or that I would wish him to suffer in order to charm me and fill me with giggles. But no, I don't want his essential nature changed. Good God, what a thought. It would be as much a denial of myself as a denial of my son. . . . I am here to tell you that Down's syndrome is not an insupportable horror for either the sufferer or the parents. I'll go further: human beings are not better off without Down's syndrome.

A famous columnist once opined that only people who have the "moral authority" earned by hard experience should express opinions about such difficult matters. What Kennedy and Brownback hope to provide to parents of genetically disabled babies is the legal assurance that they will be provided information that is complete and informed--rather than counseling tainted by prejudice, ignorance, or fear. The Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Condition Awareness Act may have a clunky name, but it is a noble and practical bill that deserves the support not only of those ideological opposites Kennedy and Brownback--but also of everybody in between.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.