On Wednesday, outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins ran to the defense of the all-too-common practice of aborting Down Syndrome babies in a series of posts on Twitter. Dawkins endorsed the New Republic piece of fellow atheist Jerry A. Coyne, which slammed the Catholic Church for its "medieval morality" of opposing abortion, and added that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area....You'd think the Roman Church would have lost all influence."
When pro-lifers challenged his support for this form of eugenics, Dawkins replied, "Yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings." He later asserted that such abortions are the only moral option (Twitter post below the jump):
@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
A person named Stanley Taylor questioned Dawkins on this claim: "The fetus of a pig is a pig; fetus of an elephant, elephant. Fetus of a human being not human? What is it then". The atheist writer responded by invoking utilitarianism: "Learn to think in non-essentialist ways. The question is not "is it 'human'?" but "can it SUFFER?" Eight minutes later, he added, "Suffering should be avoided. Cause no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."
Dawkins also claimed that individuals with Down Syndrome contribute nothing to human society. A fellow atheist asked, "What about people on the autism spectrum (which I am)? Where would u draw the line?" The professor emeritus at Oxford University's reply:
@InYourFaceNYer People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
The writer later played up the fact that most babies with Down Syndrome are aborted as evidence that he was in the right:
In point of fact, a majority of Down Syndrome fetuses in Europe and USA are aborted. What I recommended is not outlandish but the norm.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
I should disclose that I made my own reply to Dawkins, and cited my own personal experience with Down Syndrome in my family: "I'll tell you what's 'immoral:' suggesting that my cousin should have been murdered in the womb."