Testifying before Congress in the spring of 1990, Arkansas state health director Joycelyn Elders took an unusual tack in her defense of legal abortion. "Abortion," she said, "has had an important, and positive, public- health effect," in that it has reduced "the number of children afflicted with severe defects." As evidence, the future surgeon general cited this statistic: "The number of Down's Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion."Read the whole thing.
Her remark went all but unnoticed at the time and has received little attention since, even during Elders's contentious tenure as surgeon general in the Clinton administration. But it was a significant statement nonetheless, if only because it represents one of the few occasions on which a public health official has publicly acknowledged the eugenic utility of abortion. Terminating a pregnancy, Elders argued, is not simply a difficult personal decision, an agonizing last resort. When guided by public-health objectives, abortion can also be a positive act -- a means of improving the species.
Stylized and dulled by euphemism as it is, the debate over abortion in America rarely allows for statements as clear and direct as Elders's, and the words may sound almost unrecognizably harsh to ears accustomed to intentionally opaque terms such as "choice" and "life." But what Elders said is nothing new. For 30 years, nearly every element of Western medicine -- physicians, geneticists, insurance companies -- has, explicitly and not, encouraged the use of abortion to reduce
the incidence of birth defects.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
American-Style Abortion Eugenics
Tucker Carlson, writing in 1996: