Autism Spectrum Disorder, which runs the gamut from profoundly disabled to high-functioning individuals capable of living fairly normal lives, affects millions of families: 1 out of every 1,000 births today are autistic kids.
As I have told you over the past two days, the families of these children, like my grandson Max, don’t see these children as burdens but, instead, as blessings. Not because the parents are in “denial,” but because they love their children, and that love has helped them to see what is really important and where human worth really lies.
Unfortunately, there are many others, unlike these parents, who believe that parents and society would be better off if kids like Max were never born.
And these days, pre-natal testing allows doctors, insurance companies, and prospective parents to determine which babies in the womb will be so-called “normal and healthy,” and which will be born with handicaps. Which is why more and more of them identified with handicaps, like Down Syndrome, are being aborted.
The demonic “logic” behind targeting people with Down Syndrome can be applied to anyone with disabilities. A combination of fear, concern over the costs of caring for these kids, desires for a “perfect” child can prove irresistible. Medical technology may never enable us to “cure” things like autism, but it may enable us to identify — and target — autistic people in the womb.
If you’re thinking “this can’t happen here,” it already has. As Dr. Christopher Hook of the Mayo Clinic warns, “Eugenics is back in America.” Eugenics is the belief that we can improve the human race by eliminating undesirable genetic traits, usually, that is, the people who carry those traits. In fact, the modern eugenics movement began here in the United States. Among its proponents were people like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Margaret Sanger.
Eugenics is so dangerous and pernicious because it represents a radical disrespect for every human life, not just the life of the unborn. Adolf Hitler, an open admirer of the American and German eugenics movements, began eliminating the mentally and physically handicapped years before he started killing Jews.
The re-birth of eugenics in this country doesn’t require Nazi brown-shirts or even new laws. In fact, all it requires is for Christians not to pay attention. Then a combination of medical rationing and other economic and cultural forces will enable the forces of death to follow the demonic “logic” to its deadly conclusion.
So, how do we prevent this? We stand up for life, from conception to natural death. We make it clear to both our “leaders” and the chattering classes that respect for life is the great non-negotiable.
And it’s non-negotiable precisely because of people like Max. He will never pay taxes or hold down a job. He’ll never cure the common cold or cure the economy. But he has brought love and joy into the world in ways I never could have imagined. And I’ll talk more about that Monday.
Please, get a copy of Dancing with Max. I can almost guarantee you’ll fall in love with my grandson. And he’ll teach you exactly why we must resist every effort for humans to play God and decide who lives and who dies.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: August 11, 2011.