Richard Dawkins in a suit on a gray background

Dawkins stepped in it, again.

Well now. Richard Dawkins has sure kicked up a pretty little hornets nest hasn’t he. The man, well known for his outspoken Atheism, and more recently for his rather tasteless remarks about different “types” of rape, has managed to arouse international ire by proclaiming that the only moral thing for someone carrying a fetus that tests positive for Downs Syndrome, to do, is to abort the child. This has led to him being denounced by many people, most of them using all manner of fairly predictable hyperbole. And to be sure Dawkins is absolutely wrong.

Every bit as wrong as most of those who oppose him.

What both Dr. Dawkins, and most of those who vehemently disagree with him, have lost sight of, is a very important core truth. Unless they are pregnant with a potential Downs child, the decision is not, and should not, be the purview of anyone, except the woman carrying said child.

Everything else is extraneous moralizing, and well beside the point.

The simple, ugly, truth, is that raising any special needs child, whether they have a physical condition, or a mental/developmental one, is at best, a major challenge for most people. Both materially, and mentally/emotionally. There are many people who feel that it is well worth it. Good for them. I fully support the right of a woman to bring such a child into the world even knowing full well the potential challenges both child and parents may face. But, it is long past time, that we put a stop to the mythologizing of the challenged, and their care givers. For a great many people, children who are typical can be more than a bit of a handful, and for some, even on a good day, they may feel that they are in over their heads. This can be multiplied exponentially when dealing with a child with a challenge, whether physical, mental, or both in combination. We need to stop demonizing those women, who upon being informed that their child may be challenged, take an honest look at themselves and their situation and decide that they, for whatever reason, are not up to the lifelong challenge that raising such a child can bring. We need to stop acting as if these are special magical fairy children, and as if the mere fact of their existence will alleviate all the very serious difficulties that both they and their care givers may face over the course of their lives. Some challenged individuals end up being comparatively fortunate. Their level of affectedness may be minimal. They may be born to parents either with excellent resources, or living in a place where helping people care for such children is a priority.

For many people however, this is not the case. The child could be born severely affected. Or if the potential mother is poor, or working class, she may live in an area where there is simply little to no resources available to help her. To force any woman to bear a child using social coercion is quite frankly disgusting and it needs to end.

Sadly, there is little hope of making the so called “pro-life” crowd understand this reasoning, let alone accept and embrace it. But far too many people on the Left, who proclaim their support for a woman’s right to exercise total sovereignty over her person, suddenly turn into the worst kind of anti-choice zealot where the issue of aborting a fetus diagnosed with a congenital condition is concerned. It is high time that we accept that a woman’s right to choose is sacrosanct at all times and in all circumstances. Even at those times that one might personally disagree with her choice or her reason for it. Perhaps especially at those times.

Keep The Faith My Brothers And Sisters!
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Photo by Shane Pope released under a Creative Commons license.