Are we ready for Sean?

David Watson presses the church to consider the implications of widening pre-natal genetic testing for Down syndrome.

[T]here’s a word for this kind of thing: eugenics. What we’re talking about here is the elimination of a people group. Many of us are uncomfortable talking about this matter because it relates to topic of abortion. Yet regardless of how we may feel about abortion, can we not say that the selective termination of pregnancies based upon genetic characteristics is unethical and unacceptable? If we think, moreover, that we can limit this kind of thing to Down Syndrome, we’re fooling ourselves. As genetic testing becomes more sophisticated, will we act in the same way toward children with other forms of cognitive impairment? Children with autism? Children who are blind, deaf, or missing limbs? We can imagine a host of other traits that could be considered “undesirable.”

It is the logic of our world that says children such as Watson’s son, Sean, should never have been born. It is that logic that likely would extend to my son, Luc, if people had the ability to test for autism.

I know that if there were a cure of autism, I would want Luc to have it. Some advocates for neuro-diversity would resist that. But I would not. Luc works hard enough to cope with the world the rest of us have created. If I could make his life less of a struggle, I would. That said, I would never suggest that the “cure” includes denying him life.

We in the church talk about life. We talk about hospitality. We talk about the last being first. We talk about serving selflessly.

Sean Watson and our brothers and sisters like him are giving us a chance to mean what we say. Are we ready, church, for that? Will we let him teach us how to be who we say we are?


3 thoughts on “Are we ready for Sean?

  1. Perhaps in a world where all children are all financially and socially supported and cared for and are not bullied or taken advantage of by others then we could fuss less about whether children who will need more care financially and socially would not be at risk prenatally for abortion.

  2. Let’s not kid ourselves. The purpose of genetic testing is so women can elect to terminate pregnancies if the baby is not perfect. The UMC has a position on this. “We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics”
    Despite that we have a history with Margaret Sanger and eugenics that is not pretty. And even today we support the RCRC which as an organization will oppose any attempt to limit access to abortion. We also provide direct support to Planned Parenthood, founded by Ms Sanger, specifically for abortions.
    What do you suppose will happen if the gay gene is ever found?
    I think we can expect more of this and The UMC will continue to support a women’s right to make an informed choice.

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