Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eugenics Today

Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics by Melinda Tankard Reist

This was a shocking read about the pressures women feel to conform to society's standards when testing unborn children for "abnormalities" and then "taking care of the problem" before their baby is born. The introduction is full of statistics, surveys and reports. Following are a number of personal accounts written by the women themselves about their experiences while pregnant and with their children.

You probably are not surprised to learn that I am disturbed by the trend in modern medicine to test for all sorts of diseases before a baby is born for which we have no cures and sometimes no treatments at all. I suppose in some cases it's nice to be prepared, but Kansas Dad and I have always found it better to err on the side of ignorance. If the only "solution" I'm offered is an abortion, there's no use knowing. In the meantime, I can enjoy my pregnancy and relish the time we have together with baby safely nestled under my heart (as Kristin Lavransdatter always said).

This book brings to the fore some interesting discussions of the effect on society of avoiding the births of people with disabilities. The author maintains our society will suffer a decrease in compassion as a whole. Certainly it's disturbing to see the similarities with the eugenics movements (and eventual actions) in Nazi Germany. Today, it's more insidious because it's happening behind the closed doors of doctors' offices and hospitals. Even the March of Dimes supports prenatal screening as a method to decrease the rates of disabilities and premature births - not by treating a condition, but by encouraging mothers to seek an abortion.

It's also an enlightening look at the supports (or lack thereof) offered to mothers and families who choose to continue a pregnancy with a disabled child. There were some disturbing anecdotes about services being withheld (not just non-existent) because the family did not choose to end a pregnancy.

There's so much I'd like to comment on in this book, but it seems to be overwhelming me right now. Instead, I'll just encourage you to read it -- or at least just read the introduction.


  1. Hello from a fellow Catholic Kansan! :) Found your blog on Danielle Bean's site and thought I'd drop you a note.

    Congrats on your upcoming birth of #3! Are you waiting to find out what it is? That makes it so exciting!

    I have 2 kiddos (20mo son and 4mo daughter) and wonder daily how it would be with 3 under 3.... lol ;)

    Hope this doesn't sound strange, but would love to meet up with you if you're nearby. Just moved here and still meeting people/making new friends :)

    God Bless!

  2. We are waiting to find out. We've never felt the need to make any decisions based on gender (no nursery to decorate, etc.) and I love picking out names. This way, I (I mean, we) get to pick out a boy name and a girl name.

    I checked out your blogs and you can't be too far from us if you went to the zoo. Perhaps we could plan an outing there? I'm still working full-time, so it would have to be a weekend or holiday (like Memorial Day). Send me an email at the address on my blog and we'll find a time.

    By the way, you're a brave woman to contemplate 3 under 3. I'm afraid every once in a while to have 3 under 5! (Though I know, like everything, it'll be hard sometimes, but worth it.)


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