That’s Not What I Wanted

It’s All About Me

Sometimes the mask gets removed and one can see ugly suppurating flesh beneath.  Such was the case recently when an editorial writer for the Washington Post insisted that women “need” the right to abort babies with Down Syndrome.

It was a peculiar assertion.  Surely, in our benighted age, women actually do have (according to the law in most Western countries) a legal right to kill children with Down Syndrome.  So why would this opinionista state the obvious?  Well, it turns out that some states in the United States there is an argument being made that abortion for reason of a baby afflicted with Down Syndrome ought to be against the law.  According to Ruth Marcus, Deputy editorial page editor for the Washington Post:

There is a new push in antiabortion circles to pass state laws aimed at barring women from terminating their pregnancies after the fetus has been determined to have Down syndrome. These laws are unconstitutional, unenforceable — and wrong.

Let’s focus on the last assertion–namely to prohibit an an abortion on the grounds that the child has Down Syndrome is wrong.
  Marcus introduces a moral standard into her argument.  So, one expects that Marcus would hold this view with some consistency.  If it is wrong not to abort a baby on the grounds that the child is afflicted with Down Syndrome, it surely must be the case for all other imperfections or diseases or disappointed hopes.  There must, therefore, be no impediment to the “right” on the grounds of gender, or sex selection.  If a woman were to conceive and argue, “I already have a little girl.  I want a balanced family of two.  I need a little boy.  Since this “conception” is female, I insist on the right to abort her,” one expects that Marcus would be at the front of the cheer-leading brigade.   Or not?  Just asking.

No, it appears Marcus has Down Syndrome in her sights, not abortion in general.

I have had two children; I was old enough, when I became pregnant, that it made sense to do the testing for Down syndrome. Back then, it was amniocentesis, performed after 15 weeks; now, chorionic villus sampling can provide a conclusive determination as early as nine weeks. I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.

One is driven to ask the question, what if no tests had been done (as is often the case) and Marcus’s baby  was born into Marcus’s world .  What then?  One can just hear Marcus’s intonation of fashionable grief: “I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt, and ghastly as killing a child once born would have been, I would have killed that baby.  I would have grieved the loss and moved on.  It is my right.”

Now, if killing a born child would seem inappropriate or immoral to Marcus, the question is begged, Why?  There is no argument she could advance which would change the “right” she is grandly parading to terminate a life.  If she “must have the right” to terminate such a baby whilst the babe is in utero, no argument opposing killing the baby ex utero would stand.

Marcus tells us why:

I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted. That was not the choice I would have made. You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision.

” . . . that is not the child I wanted“.  Here is the nexus of the issue.  Running through Marcus’s justification and pleading and insistent demands is a solipsistic orientation to self.  “It’s all about Me.”  If I have to kill my babies to get the satisfaction I am entitled to, that I both require and demand, so be it.  I would grieve and move on.”  Everyone else can just get over it. 

There is gangrene in the body politic.
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