In not one, but now two columns at the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus has taken aim at Down syndrome babies, the parents who raise them, and the experience of those women who choose to abort said children. In her first column, Marcus made the case for selective abortion, particularly of babies who might be born with Down syndrome. In her second, she doubles down with a manipulative ploy acting as victim when she’s really the perpetrator: Marcus is no more arguing for abortion rights – or “reproductive health” as the cool kids say now – than she is for a kind of new-age eugenics.
In her first column, Marcus points out conservatives who are attempting to actually ban women from aborting babies with Down syndrome are awful because Down syndrome children require effort and extra compassion, and after all, we’re modern women now, we deserve that right.
I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.
Marcus was vilified, and rightly so, with e-mails and tweets calling out her stance and her selective push for a eugenics-based society under the guise of choice. With her second column, she owned this backlash, citing a note from Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference, on the joy of her own Down syndrome child and how offensive Marcus’ column was to her.
Still, Marcus marched on, ever more sure of her stance on the right to abort a baby based on genetic testing and potential outcomes. Except this time, perhaps feeling the heat, she melted a little and failed to persuade based on moral grounds, but based on how much mothers who want to abort these babies might feel sad and lonely and it might hurt their feelings.
These emails reflect a silenced majority — silenced because, as I discovered, saying that you would terminate a pregnancy for this reason unleashes fury and invective. That these readers reflect the majority view is not proof that their attitude is correct; morality is not determined by popular vote.
But their voices do illustrate the agonizing complexity of the matter and reinforce my fundamental point: This is a choice that must remain with the individual who will live with the consequences, not with a government imposing its will on her.
If there’s anything women should care less about, it is the feelings of other women who want to purposely abort a child who might enter this world as “less-than.” That Marcus skipped over making a strong moral case for her claims and begun and ended with claims about empathy for “silenced” women is as disingenuous as it is revolting: There is no actual fast moral case for aborting Down syndrome babies just because of their lot in the genetic pool, because it’s not compassion for women – it’s eugenics wrapped in victimhood.
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What about the ethical obligations of purporting to embrace a modern-day eugenics campaign that prefers Instagram-friendly babies than Down syndrome little ones with lopsided grins and shorter life expectancies? Marcus and the “silenced” women she claims to represent would no doubt be in for a challenge – no one is disputing that. But surely, the moral and ethical parameters of choice-based abortion seem glaringly profound, if not disgusting? There are moments of history that prove being selective with human lives, killing off those deemed “less-thans”, does terrible things to society.
America, and the women who have fought hard for their voices to be heard here, should neither applaud nor campaign with Marcus to selectively abort Down syndrome babies. Rather, let us take our bountiful resources and walk alongside families experiencing this journey.
LifeNews Note: Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator’s Young Journalist Award. This originally appeared at the Washington Examiner and is reprinted with permission.