One of the most horrendous ‘crimes’ for which Adolf Hitler was condemned was his desire to create the perfect race. To achieve this, he didn’t want any other blood or genes except those of Germans. Hitler thought that people with blue eyes and blonde hair were perfect, and fit the ideals of his master ‘Aryan’ (perfect) race and the children would be born with no trace of any ‘unwholesome’ sexual desires, such as homosexuality and sadism. It is understood that he himself did not want to father any children as he had dark eyes and hair.
It was the British and Americans, in particular, who opposed him so strongly especially as Hitler had declared that there was also to be no trace of Jewish or Gypsy blood in this perfect Aryan race. Almost 70 years later these two allies seem to have completely forgotten how strongly the idea of creating perfect children at our own whim and fancy was opposed by their predecessors. Just this weekend we saw and heard on news broadcasts that Britain will become the first country in the world to create babies with the DNA of three people under government plans which could see the procedure offered on the National Health Service (NHS) by next year. Parents at high risk of having children with severe disabilities such as muscular dystrophy will be offered the controversial new IVF treatment. The technique is controversial because it involves “germ line” modification of the embryo’s DNA, meaning the third party’s genetic material would not only be passed on to the child, but also to future generations down the female line. What is the difference between this and Hitler’s vision?!
This also brought to mind the reasons often given for abortion. Firstly, I have to admit that I do not support abortion but respect the decision of those who choose to abort. It is their choice. What I find frightening is the number of abortions of foetuses with operable and non life-threatening, physical problems such as cleft palate and club foot. This past Sunday’s Mail Online reports that new research suggests that dozens of abortions are carried out but the reasons are not being officially recorded. Health bosses have admitted there may be ‘discrepancies’ in their records after European monitoring group Eurocat found the number of abortions for minor abnormalities could be up to three times as high as official statistics show. According to Eurocat, 157 foetuses were aborted in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010 for cleft lip and palate. However, the Sunday Times reported that just 14 of those were recorded as such by the Department of Health.
Then there are the mentally challenging illnesses, most commonly, Down Syndrome. Dr André van Mol in his paper ‘Shall we abort imperfection away?’ writes that a European study, which appeared in the September 1999 Prenatal Diagnosis Journal, found the abortion rates after prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome were 92 percent. American statistics were little better. But why? In another study it was found that mothers reported receiving only negative information and advice from their doctors, and were given current information on neither the disease nor parent support groups. Ignorance spawned hopelessness.
The Home page of a medical group, Genochoice, states: Using our state-of-the-art technologies, you can quite possibly ensure that your child’s life may be free of such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease — as well as conditions like obesity, aggression, and dyslexia. Our probes and DNA amplifiers can identify these negative genes and eliminate them in your child… all at the pre-embryonic stage! And you can even specifically choose genes that may determine favourable characteristics in your child.
In the past 10 months 2 young couples I know have given birth to babies with physical and mental problems. One, a Down Syndrome child and the other had bleeding on the brain just before birth and has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. Both sets of parents had no idea of these possibilities prior to birth but have accepted that these children are special and their births have a purpose. The babies are gorgeous, smiling and responsive, already bringing joy to the people around them. Each couple has seen this as a special opportunity share love in a special way. Probably one of the most imperfect bodies is that of Dr Stephen Hawking, with Motor Neurone Disease and unable to walk or talk, is . still considered one of the world’s greatest mathematicians and astronomers!
Today, there are Family Planning Clinics which specifically encourage abortion as a form of Planned Parenthood. It seems as if the world only wants to produce that perfect race similar to the one Hitler wanted and for which he was vil.lified. As Dr van Mol asks, ‘Are we kinder and gentler for it? Does compassion spring forth from abolition of imperfection?’