No One Is Expendable

A very disturbing article ran in many newspapers this Ash Wednesday: Testing curbs some genetic diseases.  That’s right:  on Ash Wednesday, we got to read a self-congratulatory article full of gems like:

“One study in California found that prenatal screening reduced by half the number of babies born with the severest form of cystic fibrosis because many parents chose abortion.” 

Here’s more: 

“We’re definitely seeing decreased rates of certain genetic disorders as a result of carrier screening,” said Dr. Wendy Chung, clinical genetics chief at Columbia University.

Of course every parent hopes for a healthy baby–that goes without saying.  But when “more women are being tested as part of routine prenatal care, and many end pregnancies when diseases are found” then we’ve got a problem here.  As Barron Lerner of Columbia University asked,

If a society is so willing to screen aggressively to find these genes and then to potentially to have to abort the fetuses, what does that say about the value of the lives of those people living with the diseases?

Exactly.  It’s easy to see that some people are valued more highly than others, and people with a genetic disease that can only be prevented by making sure those people are never born are now considered expendable.

For the record, it is absolutely appalling that any person should be considered expendable for any reason.

And I am distressed to note that the Franciscan Action Network seems much more concerned with taking action in the form of “eco-penance” than to protect life. While there is a section on their website dedicated to the Franciscan Campaign for Life, the fact that all the FAN is doing here is “embracing a position” rather than encouraging or suggesting any concrete action is a signal that life issues are far less important than ecology. There are plenty of suggestions for steps Franciscans and others can take to reduce our “petroleum footprint” and how our abstinence from certain earthly goods “provides space to consider whether our individual and social relationships with these goods are just and loving or in need of conversion.” Spare me. I’m tired of seeing people being sacrificed on the altar of ecology–because all too often, extreme measures designed to protect our environment from “climate change” and other ills, real or imagined, lead us to believe that if there were fewer people in the world, it would be a better place.

As Mother Teresa once commented, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

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3 thoughts on “No One Is Expendable

  1. Pretty soon, everything will be able to be discovered in a genetic test of some sort. Rob and I say all the time how awful it will be when they figure out how to "diagnose" autism spectrum disorders in utero. Fiver couldn't be any dearer to us if he tried, he's so much more than just a kid "on the spectrum."And what about the tests that turn out to be wrong? God help us all.

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  2. This stuff makes me so darn mad! I mean, really, isn't that what Hitler wanted….a "pure" race? There is something seriously wrong with these people! May God have mercy on us ALL!

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  3. Given the traditional Franciscan commitment to the poor and marginalized, the Franciscan Action Network shares your concern for attitudes and practices that undermine the dignity of any and all human persons. In one of FAN’s upcoming Lenten resources, a Franciscan Sister serving in Kenya writes about her experience of caring for creation through caring for children.In his General Audience of January 27, 2010, which focused on St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “From love for Christ stems love for others and also for all God’s creatures. This is yet another characteristic trait of Francis’ spirituality: the sense of universal brotherhood and love for Creation, which inspired the famous Canticle of Creatures. This too is an extremely timely message. As I recalled in my recent Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, development is sustainable only when it respects Creation and does not damage the environment (cf. nn. 48-52), and in the Message for the World Day of Peace this year, I also underscored that even building stable peace is linked to respect for Creation.” With the Holy Father, FAN recognizes the deep connections between environmental ecology and human ecology and advocates a world in which Christ’s love guides our relationships with one another and with all of God’s Creation.

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