Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Last night I was watching the News. The main headline was a major breakthrough in embryo screening, ‘good news’ for parents who can now choose not to have disabled children, can ‘screen’ disability ‘out.’ At last we can move towards a society of perfect supermen. Mr Hitler would be proud.

The people I work with used to be called cripples and spastics – originally as descriptive terms; latterly as terms of abuse. Nowadays they are referred to with prettier, less guttural, terms – people with the condition spina bifida or the condition cerebral palsy. The sort of challenges we don’t want to have to face. The sort of faces we don’t want to be challenged by.

These dis[able]d people (the ones I work with) don’t contribute anything to society. Well, some of them have part-time jobs in the voluntary sector, or jobs no-one else wants, or help look after children, but other than that…So, they have no practical use; and they sure as hell aren’t decorative – not by the high standards of our surface-obsessed culture. So why not screen them out? After all, aren’t invalids invalid?

Beneath the surface – that depthless term ‘screen’ is so appropriate – what we are looking at is preparations being made for a eugenic holocaust, doubly-hidden (like all holocausts) by the way in which it is presented/concealed and by the fact that we don’t want to see what is actually going on. Some might argue that such a claim is to overstate a case, and that to overstate a case is to undermine it. But then, those who claimed that Hitler was acting towards screening out Europe’s Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and people with disabilities were overstating the case too. Except that they weren’t.

I do not know the cost of raising a disabled child; and I would not wish to belittle it. And I do not know the cost of choosing not to have children – to be childless; or to adopt from the thousands of children in need of parents – and I do not wish to belittle that either. But I would not want us as a society to have to pay the unquantifiable cost of screening-out difference, or difficulty; the as-yet-unimaginable pain that will be caused by our well-intentioned attempts to remove pain from the human experience. Only God is good enough to achieve that end; and he has chosen to do so not by screening certain people out, but by risking his own Son’s life to the complex fragility of human DNA…

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