DANIEL VAUGHAN: Even the far left admits the dangers of eugenic abortions

September 2, 2019

You can learn many things about a partisan group by pitting two of its sacred cows against each other.

A man in the United Kingdom tweeted last week a picture of an old Daily Mail column from 1993, entitled, “Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ finding.” The piece argued that if homosexuality was hardwired and genetic, parents could use genetic tests to abort children who had the “gay genes.”

Predictably, LGBTQ advocates on all sides of the aisle mocked this as an outdated mode of thinking, arguing that no one should ever do such a thing. But that runs afoul of another sacred cow of the modern left: the right of a woman to choose when it comes to abortion.

In a recent Supreme Court case that was denied certiorari, Box v. Planned Parenthood, the Planned Parenthood center argued that a woman’s right to choose was absolute and could not be abridged for any reason. This argument was important because Indiana law at stake was an anti-eugenic law that banned abortions that were performed if they discriminated on the basis of race, sex, or “genetic defect.”

Indiana was concerned with targeted abortions that sought to eliminate a fetus who was the “wrong race” or “wrong sex,” or who had a genetic defect or disease like Down syndrome. This law is important, because some estimates suggest that a Down syndrome diagnosis in utero leads to a 67% abortion rate.

In other words, two out of three positive tests lead to an abortion.

The “gay genes” narrative was back in the news this past week because of a Wall Street Journal report alleging that genetic researchers found new genetic markers for homosexuality. These genetic markers aren’t reliable; once you controlled for other genetic markers, researchers said, “the genetic variation explained less than 1%, making it practically impossible to predict a person’s sexual orientation or behavior based on his or her genome.”

So while it would be nearly impossible to use a genetic test to ascertain the sexuality of a fetus via DNA accurately, activists still claim a woman does not have the right to choose in this case. They’d say it is morally wrong to target a person purely based on sexual orientation.

That’s not what they’re arguing in court, however, where the court-made abortion right in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is considered a super-right by some judges, untouchable by the states. And whereas they see targeted abortion based on sexual orientation as bad, it’s not for sure that any other category is off-limits.

Obianuju Ekeocha, a pro-life activist in Africa, recently shared the story of a far-left feminist who aborted her male baby because she saw bringing another male in the world as a great danger. A sexist abortion, while they may see it as dangerous and potentially wrong, is still ultimately supported.

Note where we’ve shifted here, too: it’s not about family planning, or whether or not to have a child at all, as Planned Parenthood would say; it’s about what type of child to bring in the world. The choice to have a child has already been made; the abortion decision is made on a eugenic basis of what is in this fetus’s DNA.

That’s the point of eugenic abortions — it’s not family planning, it’s people planning. As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion on the Box v. Planned Parenthood case: “Enshrining a constitutional right to an abortion based solely on the race, sex, or disability of an unborn child, as Planned Parenthood advocates, would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Sotomayor both indicated they were ready to adopt the description of abortion Thomas described. So if this is the official line of the pro-choice movement, then why is it wrong to abort a child if you could lock down the genetic markers for homosexuality, or any other trait?

They don’t have a satisfactory answer to this question because, as a bright-line rule, if you allow eugenic abortions for some traits, you have to enable it for others. There’s no line you can draw that says these traits are okay, but these others are not, without descending into the eugenic ideas of early 20th-century progressivism.

Combining the LGBTQ movement with the pro-choice crowd brings us to this conflict of ideas. If you’re going to advocate for a genuinely unchecked version of abortion, then you’re allowing a form of eugenics to take place and opening the eugenic door of progressivism to an idea that paved the way for the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Or, if you reject that, they’re claiming some of their identity groups have more ground to reject the pro-choice argument than others.

Rejecting the eugenic movement seems like wiser path to take — we know the evils that that path has brought us. Targeting anyone based on what is — or could be — in their genes is a dangerous path to take.

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.