The criticisms of Sarah Palin are becoming more bizarre and shameful as time wears on. All the more good for McCain, I suppose. Robert Tracinski points out that the waves of hostility coming from the media only serve to discredit valid criticisms against her (and there are valid criticisms).
One such argument recently comes from the blogosphere that is unusually candid about its contempt for existence of Down syndrome lives. Nicholas Provenzo makes his concern known:
Like many, I am troubled by the implications of Alaska governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s decision to knowingly give birth to a child disabled with Down syndrome. Given that Palin’s decision is being celebrated in some quarters, 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. (emphasis mine)
What is revealing about those that affirm the “morality” of aborting fetuses diagnoised wth Down syndrome is that its logical antithesis is spelled out clearly: having a Down syndrome child is immoral. That is the implication “many” of which are “troubled” by. This is no misrepresentation. Provenzo writes,
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.
Only in the case of a wealthy parent do we have an exception to the rule. Otherwise, the decision to bring a Down syndrome life into the world results in an undue burden not only to the parent, but to all of society as well. Contained in this premise are the assumptions that altruism is an aberration, and that Down syndrome life is judged “unproductive” and therefore devoid meaning and value. Objectivism and utilitarianism are apparently the “rules of reason” in this case, though such a rules produce staggering contradictions. For example, Provenzo does an about-face when he writes,
In this light, it is completely legitimate for a woman to look at the circumstances of her life and decide that having a child with Down syndrome (or any child for that matter) is not an obligation that she can accept. After all, the choice to have a child is a profoundly selfish choice; that is, a choice that is an expression of the parent’s personal desire to create new life. (emphasis mine)
The objectivist talking here would say that such a choice is a good one since acting in self-interest is good. The utilitarian, however, would have to differ because the result of such a choice would impose a miserable burden on others. Of course, there is a more sinister morality at work here–that of the practice of eugenics. And for Provenzo, that is a “slur.”
And most parents seek to create healthy life; in the case of the unborn fetuses shown to have severe developmental disabilities, one study reports that over 90% of these fetuses are aborted prior to birth. But if you notice, the anti-abortion zealots try to attach a dirty little slur to these abortions, labeling them a form of eugenics. (emphasis mine)
What is lost on Provenzo is that his reasoning up to this point is an argument for the morality of eugenics. He might not want to call it that because of the negative connotation that comes from the word, but what he says next is precisely what eugenicists thought and advocated for less than a hundred years ago. He says,
So in the anti-abortion advocate’s eyes, a parent’s desire to raise healthy children by squelching unhealthy fetuses while the are still in the womb is little more than a pernicious quest, but it is not considered a pernicious quest to knowingly bring severely disabled children into this world. (emphasis his)
Diana Hsieh agrees with Provenzo making an even more damning judgment on those who advocate that Down syndrome life is worthy of life:
Such people are not motivated by a soft heart. If they were, they would adamantly defend abortion as a moral means of freeing parents from the prospect of endless sacrifice to a retarded child. They would regard abortion as a moral way to prevent the infliction of a miserable, degraded life on the person that will emerge from the womb. Instead, they want to create more mentally defective and perpetually dependent children by outlawing abortion.
The argument for eugenics is simple. Life unworthy of life is to be disposed of, and it is the moral duty of everyone to make sure it is not created. It is criminal to knowingly bring handicapped persons into the world, and it is degrading to society to saddle it with their burdens. Never mind the fact that this is exactly what the Nazis thought and practiced, Sarah Palin and her 5 month old- civil rights leader are to be despised and rejected on the basis of moral obligations to “good birth.”
See Southern Appeal for more commentary.