Friday, July 11, 2008

Capitalistic Eugenics and Downs Syndrome

"Recent US studies have indicated that when Down syndrome is diagnosed prenatally, 84% to 91% of those babies will be killed by abortion. " Susan W. Enouen, Down Syndrome and Abortion, available here.

I looked this bit of research up after reading in the June/July edition of First Things that 90% of all diagnosed Downs babies are euthanized in utero. Caitrin Nicol, All Too Human, available here ("For those with Down syndrome, the rate is upward of 90 percent"). Much has been said lately about progressions made in the Pro-Life movement. For example, see here. But if nearly 90% of Downs babies whose mothers test for the condition are euthanized, and if well over 80% of Americans believe abortion should be legal at least some of the time, then we have a long way to go. Time Poll, June 15-18, 2008, available here.

Incidentally, perhaps, even if every other religious group in America were in favor of legalized abortion, the 26.3% of Americans who identify themselves as Evangelical Protestants should yield a better statistic than the one holding that 84% of Americans believe abortion should be legal at least some of the time (as 100 - 26.3 = 73.7, and 73.7 is less than 84). The Pew Forum, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, see here. But then again, I could say that about the 23.9% of the country who are Catholic. Id. That the two combined (over 50% of America) cannot (all on their own) make for more than 20% of the country opposed to all abortions is sad. Alas, I guess the moral clarity of the Bible, or the supposed oligarchical power of the Roman Magisterium are not what some claim them to be. We must win people with reason, compassion and love, and not rely on some clear power or other to call others in line. In the language of my professional world, we must be our own "action officers."

To address my title for this post, I will briefly say this. We have not needed an ideological eugenicist government, like Nazism, to euthanize those with Down syndrome en masse. The economics of raising a disabled child in a Capitalist society that favors dual-income households, combined with an open expression of views from groups promoting 'testing' for the 'burdensome' (like the American College of OB/GYNs), have done it on their own. The problem, however, is not Capitalism or Free Speech, but rather our willingness to use our freedom for the glory of God. If the 50% of Americans who are Evangelical Protestant and Catholic could work to steer people to use their freedoms well, that would effect wonderful changes in abortion practices in America. We are called to co-laborate with God in sharing His love for the poor, the hungry, the naked, and (I believe) those affected by Down syndrome. We have much work to do; we have many broken people to love.

If anyone is thinking of aborting their Down baby, please let me know. I want to help you, perhaps with the help of loving groups such as the Sisters of Life. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14. At least 50% of Americans should notice an imperative in this statement.


Tim A. Troutman said...

At my work, I am surrounded by left wing evangelicals. Not a one of them could give a rats #$$@@ about abortion.

I never realized how marginalized my old PCA denomination was until I worked there with a bunch of mainstream evangelicals.

But on the issue of the magisterium, in my private estimation it seems like there are additional things it could do to help the cause. For example - coming out ex cathedra and saying that no one supporting abortion is to be offered Communion. But those in power much wiser than me have reasons which I don't fully understand. I do know that the Catholic Church has consistently been excellent on this issue whether or not the majority of those who claim to be Catholic are or not.

And also remember, this isn't just an American issue. I would point to the Catholic countries in the world as some of the champions in the fight against abortion: Philippines, Poland etc...

But this is certainly an issue, if nothing else is, that Catholics & evangelicals need to unite on.

Joseph said...

Alas, I guess the moral clarity of the Bible

You already know this, of course, but, it isn't the lack of moral clarity in the Sacred Scriptures, it is the sometimes deliberate, sometimes accidental misinterpretations of it. It can also be the ignorance of it or it could be obstinance. But it not the Scriptures that are unclear.

...or the supposed oligarchical power of the Roman Magisterium are not what some claim them to be.

The Church is also clear on her stance on abortion and euthanasia. In fact, because of the nature of Communion in the Church and the Authority of the Church, one can say that the Catholic Church (and the Eastern Orthodox) is the last bastion of definitive Christian opposition to abortion. A Catholic is automatically excommunicated if they are directly complicit in an abortion. That really can't be said of any other Christian community. The other thing I'd like to point out is that, like the Scritpures, it isn't the Magisterial Authority that is unclear. It is the closed ears and hearts of the individuals who turn from the voice of the Shepherd. When one walks through the gate into the sheepfold, Christ doesn't close and lock the gate behind Him and say, "Ha Ha!!! I've got you now!" and then perform a lobotomy on the unsuspecting sheep to ensure that the sheep never disobeys Him again, nor does the Magisterium who's job it is to protect the sheep in the sheepfold in the Bridegroom's stead. That would be stripping us of free will, which reasonably, we know does not happen, and theologically, we know God does not nor will He do. Not only that Christ, and his Apostles, warn us in the Scriptures that there will be wolves who jump the fence to steal away and devour the sheep in the sheepfold. And Christ, as the Good Shepherd, seeks out each "lost" sheep. The sheep had to be one of His at one time to be "lost", no?

Some sheep in the sheepfold choose to leave or they choose to follow the wolves in sheep's clothing (the wayward pastors). Some thing the grass is more sumptuous on the other side of the fence and seek the "better" things of the world... effectively losing the protection within its boundaries.

It can't be the fault of the Magisterium nor can it be the fault of the Sacred Scriptures (or the Magisterium's interpretation of the Scriptures). Everyone has their own reasons for choosing to ignore their conscience.

Tim said:

But on the issue of the magisterium, in my private estimation it seems like there are additional things it could do to help the cause. For example - coming out ex cathedra and saying that no one supporting abortion is to be offered Communion.

Canonically, as Archbishop Burke pointed out, one who manifests his support of abortion publicly, cannot receive communion. This has the potential to scandalize the faithful and therefore is a mortal sin (as it threatens to draw other Catholics into his/her error). His explanation and interpretation of canon law was only confirmed and supported by the Vatican. (There may have been another qualifier, such as, the public position or office the person in scandal held, but I'm not sure.)

Automatic excommunication, without a need for an actual rite or statement from the local ordinary or the Pope, for being directly complicit with an abortion is also a very clear and stiff message.

My point is, somehow I don't think that, if the Vatican came out with the statement that Tim suggests, those who already claim to be Catholic (recite the Creed whenever they attend Mass and receive Communion) and are advocates of abortion will change their position.

This was proven when the CDF came out with the recent clarification that any Catholic woman, who imitates an ordination right in an attempt to become a priestess, and any prelates, anonymous or not, who oversee this "rite", are automatically excommunicated (same as those complicit with abortion). The previously "ordained" womenpriestesses and those who agreed with them responded with a disdainful response similar to this one, "so what, it doesn't mean anything to us. It just proves that the Magisterium needs us to save the Church from the oppression of men who are not following the Gospel". Needless to say, it did not have the effect of making those women run to their local ordinary in repentance. They are comfortably excommunicated now, yet they still claim to be in Communion, though a more perfect Gnostic communion.

Joseph said...


Upon further reflection, I don't think I added anything to your original post. As far as the Magisterium goes, am I right to think that what I stated was what you meant (except yours was more concise)?

Somehow I always get confused.

Thos said...


Thanks for sharing. I respect the Catholic Church's cautious wielding of the "stick" more than I would expect from myself. I would normally be inclined towards heavy-handedness for the sake of reaching results. However, at least a part of me believes that where the Catholic Church does not enjoy possession of the hearts of certain theologians or priests, her heavy-handedness would only aggravate greater scandal, and no more obedience. I wonder if her patience might win hearts over? But this is a hard thing to speak about in generalities.

I offer an analogy that is on my mind a lot, and hopefully won’t offend too many visitors to my blog. My wife is not only in agreement with me on my leanings toward the Catholic Church, but she also has not been interested in reading the things I’ve been reading, or engaging with any primary sources of information on her own. We both subscribe to a belief in male spiritual headship in the home. Therefore, I could, in some way, “order” her to read material on Catholicism. I could give her regular tongue-lashings for not getting with my program, for not bearing to my drum. And, with enough assertion, I could probably cow her into doing what I’m doing. But if I joined Catholicism, and she did also under these circumstances, how pleasing would the state of her heart be to God when she took vows of submission to the Church’s teaching authority? I think not very.

So under my analogy, I can sympathize if the Church is concerned that its pressures will only result in greater sophistry and lip-service to obedience, without any *actual* *real* changes in hearts, and thus in voting habits. Now if more strictness meant these people acknowledged that they are not *actually* Catholic at all, I see no problem with that.

Peace in Christ,

Thos said...


Thanks for commenting. When I said “the moral clarity of the Bible, or the supposed oligarchic[(my bad)] power of [Rome]…” I meant in the first part to refer to the moral clarity claimed by adherents to Sola scriptura. I agree with you that the Scriptures are not themselves woefully vague on matters of morality. Rather, I meant to poke at people who believe that they can use the Bible in isolation, and divine, individually, how they should live. Since I’ve seen faithful Christian Sola scriptura adherents uncertain about right and wrong in instances such as abortion, masturbation, contraception, alcohol use, etc., I believe that the Scriptures, when interpreted by an individual in isolation from the Church (?), do not possess explicit, inescapable moral clarity in many instances. But that was me trying to lawyer again.

With the second half of the quote you picked up on (re: oligarchy), I again agree with you. I meant here to poke at people who decry the supposed strict authoritarianism of the Roman system. I do not think Rome is vague on its stance on these matters, by any means.

In this two statements I trying to contrast the claims that the Bible *alone*, or the *bossy* Roman power force moral rules, with the reality that fewer Americans believe abortion is always wrong than there are EITHER Catholics or Evangelicals.

Peace in Christ,