“We want to ensure you don’t have another one of those!” Eugenics in Australia

27 Feb

I say again, let society lose its fading memory of the basis for human rights historically in the West (human beings bear the image of God), and you will quite logically end with The Abolition of Man (as C.S. Lewis called it).  Shocking story from Australia.  I’d like to personally thank First Things for making this a free read.  Intro:

I belong to a very ordinary Australian family, albeit with two obvious differences. First, compared with the stereotypical sports-loving, tough Aussie, some of us are quite weak and physically frail, thanks to a mutant gene. Second, my family has resisted the secularism that is a dominant feature of modern Australian life.

I believe it is no accident that we preserved our Christian profession. One reason ill-mannered New Atheist attitudes gained little traction among us is that Christian theism provides a secure footing for our family in a darkening world, which, thanks to the recent proliferation of “genetics counseling” clinics in modern hospitals, is increasingly hostile toward the congenitally weak and imperfect.

Although my form of brittle bone disease (OI, osteogenesis imperfecta)is quite mild, I experienced some fifteen or so fractures in my youth. My high school classmates gave me such winsome nicknames as “Fragile Phil” and “Brittle Burcham.” OI also affects one’s hearing: Wearing bulky hearing aids from age thirteen did little for the machismo of a teenage boy coming of age in 1970s Australia.

After marrying my wife in the United States on completion of my postdoctoral studies, we returned to Australia, where our daughter was born a few years later. One day, our petite ten-month-old infant was trying to pull herself up using a chair leg for support. My wife heard a popping sound and a whimper as she flopped back onto the floor. X-rays indicated she had snapped a tibia.

Upon learning of the disorder affecting my family, the emergency-room staff in the local children’s hospital told us about a gifted doctor who knew a lot about OI. I was keen to meet the doctor, given my positive memories of the orthopedic surgeons who cared for me in childhood. A pharmacologist by training, I also knew that the bisphosphonates—a class of drugs developed for osteoporosis sufferers—were then being tested on OI patients. I hoped the doctor would know if they might help our daughter.

We found the doctor had little interest in the clinical management of pediatric OI patients and knew little of bisphosphonate pharmacology. The doctor and attending nurse initially engaged us in chatty small talk, but their intentions soon became clear: They wanted to know whether we hoped to have another baby. After my wife said we did, exasperated grimaces passed between them.

“If that is the case,” the doctor replied, turning toward me, “we will need to obtain blood samples from some members of your extended family to allow DNA testing.” Fearing my family might be reluctant to participate in a research project, I naively asked why the genetic data was required. Waving a dismissive hand toward our daughter, who until this point had tried her darndest to win the doctor’s attention with coy smiles and giggles, this gifted physician who knew so much about the disease abruptly replied, “We want to ensure you don’t have another one of those!”

Read the rest here

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