Pope Francis of Argentina has regularly been under fire by many on the right for what seems like a left-leaning brand of politics being espoused by a supposedly apolitical religious position. The pope, however, has made many of his harshest critics very happy today by acknowledging the uncomfortable truth that many people feel is too sensitive to take on.
During a conversation with Italy’s Family Association, the pope expressed his concern with a trend which seems to be “usual” or “fashionable” of fetuses being checked genetically early in the pregnancy for birth defects and subsequently deciding whether to carry out the pregnancy as planned or to terminate it.
The pope continued to say the following: “I say this with pain. In the last century, the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves…” Indeed, the process of creating a more desirable society by weeding out traits and characteristics that are considered by some to be undesirable is called eugenics, and it is one of Nazism’s greatest ideological and practical atrocities.
Iceland is a country that has seen a reduction of almost 100% in the births of children with Down Syndrome. Though the Icelandic government, of course, does not mandate abortions of children with this or any other defect, doctors are required to check and inform mothers of potential malformations or genetic issues with their fetus. In Iceland, virtually all mothers who are expected to birth a child with down syndrome have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.
Now, though it would be a blatant miscategorization and omission of facts to note that people with genetic and chromosomal differences such as people with down syndrome face larger challenges than people born into a standard state, we must ask ourselves who decided that the standard is the only dignified way to live and why the standard individual is the only valuable individual in a society. This point can be illustrated by Frank Stephens’ testimony before Congress:
Promoting the idea that ending a potential human life because it skews in any way from the standard of society is a dangerous slope. Any practice that has such parallels to the evil ideology of Nazism should not be implemented at any scale in a liberal western nation.
Deputy Editor, The Unshackled
Host of the Front and Center Podcast