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Richard Dawkins: Keeping Fetus With Down's Is 'Immoral'

Renowned atheist sparks a Twitter war
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2014 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – What to do when you're pregnant with a fetus that has Down's syndrome? Simple, tweeted Richard Dawkins: "Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice." The renowned evolutionary theorist and atheist later apologized for sparking a Twitter war, and conceded that his "phraseology" was a little off, but he stuck by his guns in a blog on his website:

  • "If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down's baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child's own welfare."

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Not all the Twitter responses were exactly favorable (or really printable), but Huffington Post rounds up a few:

  • "Who decides who gets to do the utility/suffering calculus? Very slippery slope indeed."
  • "Have you ever met someone with Downs Syndrome? See if you still think they’d’ve been better off never born."
  • "I have a cousin with Down Syndrome who is one of the most lovable and life-loving kids I know. Your tweet sickens me."
The row started when a woman tweeted that she would consider it "a real ethical dilemma" if she were pregnant with a Down's-syndrome baby. Dawkins later explained that he had no intention of "bossily" telling her what to do, and respected her right to choose; he also sympathized with people who "know and love a person with Down's syndrome." But, he added, while he has "sympathy for this emotional point ... it is an emotional one and not a logical one." The Down's Syndrome Association responded by saying that people with the condition "can and do live full and rewarding lives" and "also make a valuable contribution to our society." (Read more Down Syndrome stories.)

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