Fifty-five years ago, on Jan. 26, 1959, the French Academy of Sciences published the findings of a young scientist, Jérôme Lejeune, which proved, for the first time, a link between mental disability and chromosomal abnormality. Lejeune’s discovery that Down syndrome was caused by the presence of an additional chromosome was nothing short of revolutionary. Twenty-four years later, on Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S Supreme Court ran roughshod over the laws of all fifty states by mandating the legalization of abortion. Today, 90 per cent of all children with Down syndrome are killed in the womb.
Genocide is a dirty word. (It is an even dirtier thing.) Yet it is the only adequate word to describe the systematic policy of deploying genetic testing to exterminate the disabled. It is a deplorable fact that we live in a society that considers children with Down syndrome and other disabilities to be “subhuman” or, to employ the more ominous-sounding German word, merely untermenschen.
At this juncture, and in the interests of full disclosure, I should confess that I have the proverbial axe to grind. My wife and I are the parents of an 11-year-old son with Down syndrome. He is the happiest member of our family and has enriched the quality of our lives in ways too deep and numerous to mention. I cannot imagine how impoverished our lives would be without him. He is our most valued teacher from whom we have learned the most priceless lessons about love and life. It breaks my heart to think that others like him are killed or culled for the “crime” of imperfection.
As despicable as the genocide inflicted upon the disabled in the United States and Europe is the gendercide inflicted upon girls in India and China. As many as 200 million girls have been killed, according to U.N. estimates, for the “crime” of being female.
In India, infanticide is practiced in utero and ex utero. Sex-selection abortions are commonplace with girls being aborted at an estimated rate of one a minute. Those baby girls fortunate enough to survive the womb are often murdered soon afterwards. Infanticide is so widely practiced in some areas of India that the mortality rate for girls between the ages of 1-5 is 75 percent higher than the mortality rate for boys of the same age. The social ramifications of this abominable situation are as manifold as they are sordid. Today there are 37 million more men than women in India, a grim reality that has led to a dramatic growth in the trafficking of women and girls to meet the rising demand in India’s brothels.
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In China, the ultimately suicidal one-child policy has led to there being 18 million more boys than girls under the age of 15. It is estimated that almost 20 percent of girls are killed through sex-selection abortion or postpartum infanticide. Regarding the latter, it has been reported that midwives routinely deliver “stillborn” girls by strangling the female infant with the umbilical cord as she is delivered.
Human rights advocate Markus Redding from Columbia University has described gendercide as “our generation’s holocaust -- a systematic extermination of millions just because they are females …. When you talk about a Nazi holocaust occurring right now, people are in denial about it.”
Isn’t it grimly ironic, considering this horrific gendercide, that pro-abortion media pundits on CNN and MSNBC regularly describe the pro-life movement as conducting a war on women? Isn’t it equally ironic that those who speak loudest about the rights of the weakest and poorest in society are ominously silent about the genocidal extermination of the disabled?
This same ominous silence will be evident Wednesday as hundreds of thousands join the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The largest political demonstration anywhere in the United States, held every year on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion, will be routinely ignored by most of the mainstream media. Insofar as it is reported at all, the film coverage will be doctored so that there are no panoramic shots of the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters affirming the value of every human life. Instead we will be shown a handful of pro-life demonstrators, no doubt being dismissed as being part of a “war on women” and an equal number of pro-abortionists being lauded as defending women’s rights. In the meantime, as the Orwellian newspeak and doublethink continue, so will the genocide and gendercide. The dirty secret, not to be mentioned in polite circles, is that the sexual revolution is proving as bloody and as deadly as previous revolutions carried out in the name of freedom and equality.
In the absence of a genuine respect, and dare one say reverence, for all human life we are dooming ourselves to a new tyranny that kills the weakest and most vulnerable with increasingly reckless abandon.
Joseph Pearce is writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. His latest book is “Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love” (Saint Benedict Press).