A very disturbing article ran in many newspapers this Ash Wednesday: Testing curbs some genetic diseases. That's right: on Ash Wednesday, we got to read a self-congratulatory article full of gems like:
"One study in California found that prenatal screening reduced by half the number of babies born with the severest form of cystic fibrosis because many parents chose abortion."
"We're definitely seeing decreased rates of certain genetic disorders as a result of carrier screening," said Dr. Wendy Chung, clinical genetics chief at Columbia University.
Of course every parent hopes for a healthy baby--that goes without saying. But when "more women are being tested as part of routine prenatal care, and many end pregnancies when diseases are found" then we've got a problem here. As Barron Lerner of Columbia University asked,
"If a society is so willing to screen aggressively to find these genes and then to potentially to have to abort the fetuses, what does that say about the value of the lives of those people living with the diseases?"
Exactly. It's easy to see that some people are valued more highly than others, and people with a genetic disease that can only be prevented by making sure those people are never born are now considered expendable.
For the record, it is absolutely appalling that any person should be considered expendable for any reason.
And I am distressed to note that the Franciscan Action Network seems much more concerned with taking action in the form of "eco-penance" than to protect life. While there is a section on their website dedicated to the Franciscan Campaign for Life, the fact that all the FAN is doing here is "embracing a position" rather than encouraging or suggesting any concrete action is a signal that life issues are far less important than ecology. There are plenty of suggestions for steps Franciscans and others can take to reduce our "petroleum footprint" and how our abstinence from certain earthly goods "provides space to consider whether our individual and social relationships with these goods are just and loving or in need of conversion." Spare me. I'm tired of seeing people being sacrificed on the altar of ecology--because all too often, extreme measures designed to protect our environment from "climate change" and other ills, real or imagined, lead us to believe that if there were fewer people in the world, it would be a better place.
As Mother Teresa once commented, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."