Down Syndrome: Coercion and Eugenics
McCabe, Linda L
McCabe, Edward R B
Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 2011 Aug; 13(8): 708-10
Experts agree that coercion by insurance companies or governmental authorities to limit reproductive choice constitutes a eugenic practice. We discuss discrimination against families of children with Down syndrome who chose not to have prenatal testing or chose to continue a pregnancy after a prenatal diagnosis. We argue that this discrimination represents economic and social coercion to limit reproductive choice, and we present examples of governmental rhetoric and policies condoning eugenics and commercial policies meeting criteria established by experts for eugenics. Our purpose is to sensitize the clinical genetics community to these issues as we attempt to provide the most neutral nondirective prenatal genetic counseling we can, and as we provide postnatal care and counseling to children with Down syndrome and their families. We are concerned that if eugenic policies and practices targeting individuals with Down syndrome and their families are tolerated by clinical geneticists and the broader citizenry, then we increase the probability of eugenics directed toward other individuals and communities.
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