Someone recently wrote the following over at the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma blog:
Question- what is exactly wrong with eugenics?
I understand that it’s wrong in the sense of basing it off of culture and race; but when it comes to diseases, it might be better to end their lives, so they won’t be subjected to a life of pain and confusion.
This type of sentiment may sound reasonable in today’s post-Christian milieu, but under further examination, it is found to be fraught with difficulties.
1. It is a simple fact that everyone who lives for any substantial length of time experiences pain and confusion. These are inevitable consequences of living in a fallen world. Yet, few people today will claim that it is unacceptable to reproduce, and that one should try to prevent human beings from being brought into the world and experiencing pain and suffering. Antinatalists (who are an extreme minority, to be sure) are consistent in this sentiment, but most who espouse the above view are not. How much future pain and suffering justifies the killing of an unborn child? It might seem reasonable (following this train of thought) to end the life of someone who will live with a lifelong debilitating disease. But what about lesser pain and suffering? What about someone who is genetically predisposed to developing cancer? Going through cancer is a painful and confusing experience – why not perform abortions in cases where it is likely that the child will develop such a condition? Or, consider societal circumstances. A baby born into a war-torn and hunger-stricken part of Africa is going to experience much pain and confusion early in life, by virtue of his environment. Should such babies be aborted, to prevent their future pain and suffering? Are their parents somehow being “irresponsible” for giving birth to such children? If it is “better to end the lives” of children with genetic diseases before they are born, why is it not “better to end the lives” of children who are born into impoverished circumstances, or who are predisposed to certain medical conditions? Where does one draw the line? And how does one know where the line should be drawn?
2. But this raises another question: who are you or I to determine whether or not it is “better to end the life” of this unborn child or that? As all life is created by God, only God has the authority to state under what conditions man may justifiably take life from man. And God has nowhere stated that a life lived with a debilitating disease qualifies as such a justifying circumstance. Given the Biblical prohibition against murder, it would behoove us to find positive support from Scripture that eugenics is justifiable, lest we find our hands to be stained with innocent blood.
3. But even leaving the moral dimension aside, as human beings, we are woefully ignorant of many of the relevant factors in these kinds of situations. Most of us would espouse the Golden Rule: that we should only treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated. Yet, no one can say, with any degree of certainty, whether a child with such a condition, growing in the womb of its mother, would prefer to live or to die. Yet, killing others when they would prefer to have lived is a gross violation of the Golden Rule. Given that we do not know what the child would desire, or would come to desire, would it not be more prudent and upright to choose on the side of life, lest we be found to have deprived someone of a life that they would have desired to have lived? Presuming to know what the unborn child would desire (or come to desire) with respect to his own life, and terminating his life based on this presumption, reveals a monstrous arrogance towards those who cannot speak for themselves.
4. In addition to being ignorant of what the child would desire, we are also woefully ignorant of what specific pain and suffering will be experienced by the child, and most importantly, how the child will interpret and process that pain and suffering. While pain and suffering is never easy, life is often deeply enriched by having experienced and overcome pain and suffering. Overcoming pain and suffering often produces a deepness and richness in one’s life, in the area of that suffering, that those who have not undergone such suffering cannot hope to understand. Abortion robs these individuals of a potentially-richer life experience than any “normal” person could ever hope to have. How is depriving them of this in their best interest?
5. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the above sentiment, however, is that there is no reason to apply it merely to the unborn. Indeed, the sentiment is that “when it comes to diseases, it might be better to end their lives“. If it is “better to end the life” of an unborn child than to let them suffer through a disease, why would it not be “better to end the life” of a toddler who is diagnosed with cancer, than to let them suffer though that disease? What about a ten year-old who develops leukemia? Or a thirty year-old who develops ALS? Terminating the lives of such individuals without their consent is unconscionable to all but the most hardened of heart. Yet this is the logical conclusion of the above sentiment.
6. Even more troubling however, is the following: if it is acceptable to kill someone (without their consent) in order to spare them suffering, why would it not be acceptable to kill someone (without their consent) for some less ostensibly-altruistic reason? Why would it not be okay to kill someone, because they are “feeble-minded” (a term used by 20th-century advocates of eugenics)? Why would it not be okay to kill someone, because they cease to be useful to society and the State (per the view of George Bernard Shaw)? Or why would it not be acceptable to kill someone for reasons of ethnicity or religion? Once it becomes acceptable to kill someone without either their consent or input on the matter, it becomes tenuously difficult to see why killing people for reasons other than their own “benefit” would not also be justifiable.Originally posted here.