Abortion is Not Eugenics, It Is Much Worse

| June 29, 2018

Last Saturday, Pope Francis criticized disability-selective abortion as similar to Nazi attempts to “purify the race.” “I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to “purify” the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves”, the pontiff said in unprepared remarks to an Italian family organization. The Pope is absolutely right about what has been happening with disability-selective abortion. With numbers like the nearly 100% Down Syndrome abortion rates we see in Iceland and Denmark it is simply not a valid argument to say that this is a coincidence. No, this is a genocide pushed by the medical community.

Many pro-life advocates have referred to this as “eugenics.” This is not entirely accurate. This blatant attack on the lives of those with “fetal abnormalities” is exponentially more evil and terrifying than classical eugenics. While the eugenics movement had a similar goal, classical eugenics did not kill developing humans. Did it prevent them from being born, mostly through mandatory sterilization of their parents? Absolutely. However, there was not this mass killing of individuals with disabilities. The Nazis were certainly eugenic-inspired, but they brought the movement to a conclusion that, while dreamed of by some classical eugenicists, was never acted upon. The Nazis were a radical strain of the eugenics movement, so radical as to create a separate class of atrocities from what can be considered “eugenics”. Likewise, the wholesale intentional killing of these humans with “fetal abnormalities” is a separate class of atrocity from the classical eugenics movement.

The classical eugenics movement is divided into two methods, of which both were used in all cases, but one was focused on more than the other depending on the country. In England, where the eugenics movement started, positive eugenics was the primary focus. This meant that “positive” traits were to be increased through more reproduction by those with these traits. By contrast, the United States focused on negative eugenics, where the “negative” traits were to be eliminated. In the United States, this mostly involved forced sterilization and segregation of individuals with these “undesirable” traits into “colonies” in addition to banning certain groups of people from marrying each other. There was some passive euthanasia and some messing with improvised methods of poisoning. While all this happened, the euthanasia was the exception, not the rule.

American eugenicists were not ready to use genocide as a method. It was only when these same ideas were exported to Germany that eugenics was taken to this extreme conclusion. There were no coordinated attempts at a genocide in the classical eugenics movement. The Nazis were certainly eugenic-inspired, but gave their anti-human movement a perverse edge that the mainstream eugenics movement lacked, leaving millions of dead people in its wake. Today, we face a similar wholesale slaughter of those who look and function differently. This, as it did in 1940, carries an edge that goes so far beyond a “eugenics” movement, leaving thousands dead every year and thousands more destroyed.

While American flirtation with the eugenics movement was one of the most shameful periods of American history, its exportation to Germany took that movement and put it on steroids, distinguishing it from anything that had ever been seen before because people were being put to death en masse. The modern genocide against preborn people with “fetal anomalies” bears much more resemblance to this Nazi version of eugenics than anything seen in America before. Pro-lifers are not necessarily wrong to call disability-selective abortion eugenics, but there is a better term and a better parallel for what is going on.