March 1, 2024

Bioethics on US campaign trail

Abortion and Down syndrome are on the agenda for presidential hopefuls.

More bioethics in the US presidential campaign. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has compared Republican candidates to terrorists for promising to ban all abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.

“Now extreme views on women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States.”

She also gave strong support to beleaguered Planned Parenthood, which is fighting allegations that it is profiting from the sale of foetal tissue.

But the most interesting controversy is simmering in Ohio, where one of Ms Clinton’s would-be rivals, Republican Governor John Kasich, is mulling over whether or not to sign a bill banning the abortion of Down syndrome children.

Critics say that the bill is confused. It could mean that many more Down syndrome children will be born. At the moment, 60 to 90% of women abort them after a prenatal diagnosis. But the bill makes no provision for extra funding to care for the disabled children. As The Economist noted: “If the law goes through, as seems likely, women will be required by the state to give birth to their disabled child, but will not be able to count on much help from the state to raise it.”

Champions of Down syndrom children focus on human rights, not the financial burden. “We all want to be born perfect, but none of us are, and everyone has a right to live, perfect or not,” Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life told the New York Times. “You go to any supermarket or mall and see these families who just happen to have a child with Down syndrome, and they will tell you how fortunate they are to have those children. Pretty soon, we’re going to find the gene for autism. Are we going to abort for that, too?”
Creative commons
Down syndrome