Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Things: When Not Aborting Is Immoral

Keith Pavlischek at First Things notes how people on the right and left view giving birth to Downs Syndrome children and large families:
From over on starboard side, Nicholas Provenzo of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism is “troubled” by the implications of Gov. Sarah Palin’s “decision to knowingly give birth to a child disabled with Down syndrome.” He thinks “it is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome (or by extension, any unborn fetus)—a freedom that anti-abortion advocates seek to deny.” Here’s his line of thinking:

A parent has a moral obligation to provide for his or her children until these children are equipped to provide for themselves. Because a person afflicted with Down Syndrome is only capable of being marginally productive (if at all) and requires constant care and supervision, unless a parent enjoys the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assistance that their child will require, they are essentially stranding the cost of their child’s life upon others.

In short Provenzo looks at a Downs Syndrome child, does the math and concludes the child isn't worth it. If we are only a collection of clever tubes and chemical processes, maybe he's right. But I believe he's wrong. If human dignity has any meaning at all it starts with the assumption that all humans have the same rights as every other, specifically the right to life.
Over on the left Paul Ehrlich thinks large families are immoral:
I believe it is immoral and should be illegal for people to have very large numbers of children because they are then co-opting for themselves and their children resources that should be spread elsewhere in the world. You only get a chance to get your fair share.

What is a large family?
The issue is: What is the political position to take? In a country like the United States, we should stop at two. But if you had an ideal situation, you might have a lot of people who have no children at all, and some people who have as many as three or four because they happen to be particularly good parents, and are going to raise their children very well.

At the risk of seeming anti academic, these two schools of thought are exactly why academics should be kept as far away from positions of actual authority as possible. Provenzo and Ehrlich look at the problems facing the world, study them and apply their considerable talents to addressing them then subsequently come up with the exact wrong solution. I assert that their solutions rather than creating a pleasant Utopia, would create hell on earth. Where were these guys in eight grade when they showed the film strips about the last time some academics did the math and came up with the Final Solution?
Start with and preserve always the concept of equal protection before the law and you can never go too far wrong. Start with the presumption that some people are more deserving than others, no matter how well intentioned, and get ready for hell on earth.
Hat Tip: Cultman

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