By Daniel J. Vance


Last week CNSNews.com reported National Institutes of Health scholar Dan W. Brock as saying that American society, through the process of genetic selection, would benefit from aborting the blind and disabled.

"Even after we've made all the accommodations of justice and equality of opportunity, there would still be some residual disadvantage from being seriously cognitively disabled or being blind," Brock said in a November speech at the Univ. of Rhode Island. "It's a judgment not about the person; it's a judgment about the condition and a judgment that it would be better if the children who are born don't have that condition."

Brock's opinions, which were his own and not those of the U.S. government, are a step removed from those of Princeton professor Peter Singer, who believes parents should be allowed to kill their severely disabled children up to 28 days after birth.

Opponents of genetic selection such as Brock touted say it resembles the eugenics of the Nazis, which resulted in the mass killing of people with disabilities, Jews and others in an effort to create a "pure" race. Proponents usually point to quality of life issues.

The topic of aborting an unborn with a disability is indeed a delicate one to discuss, but it is news and combined with advances in detecting birth defects early in pregnancy and the legality of abortion, it's an issue that won't go away.

This year thousands of women had to decide whether to abort their disabled unborn or to bring them into the world, and as early pregnancy detection of birth defects improves, perhaps hundreds of thousands will have to decide in years ahead.

It is a difficult decision for most women to make. For us: If my wife in 1995 had known her unborn in the womb had spina bifida, we still would have chosen without hesitation a live birth.

Imagine our nation without born-blind Jose Feliciano singing Feliz Navidad and Light My Fire or born-blind Ronnie Milsap and his forty #1 Country Music hits. Born-with-spina-bifida singer John Cougar Mellencamp gave us Jack and Diane, Hurts So Good and Small Town. Born-with-spina-bifida athlete Jean Driscoll won the Boston Marathon seven times in her wheelchair. Remember Corky on ABC's Life Goes On, played by born-with-Down's-syndrome Chris Burke? And born-without-a-right-hand Jim Abbott showed us determination by pitching in the Major Leagues.

[Contact Mr. Vance through www.danieljvance.com. Copyright 2002 by Daniel J. Vance.]