Marching Toward Death

Almost a million people hit the streets last month to raise money for the March of Dimes' WalkAmerica fund raiser. Maybe you donated money yourself. After all, everyone wants to help find cures for handicapped babies. But I know of one organization that sometimes stands against curing handicapped babies. Believe it or not, it's the March of Dimes itself. In recent years the organization's philosophy has undergone a radical shift. Under the slogan of ending birth defects, the March of Dimes subtly endorses ending the lives of defective babies—through genetic screening followed by abortion. Twenty years ago the March of Dimes began setting up genetic testing centers to identify birth defects in utero. That may sound innocuous enough. But the catch is, there's still no cure for the vast majority of genetic diseases and disorders. So why go to the trouble and expense of identifying a handicapped fetus if nothing can be done to help him? In most cases, the follow-up to identifying defects in utero is abortion. The March of Dimes emphatically denies that the organization promotes abortion. But in a book called Strategies in Genetic Counseling, published by the March of Dimes, genetic counselors are urged to "validate" parents who decide to abort. The book also speaks of "the constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion," and refers to abortion as one of "our fundamental rights." The truth is that American society is marching straight toward the Brave New World of eugenics. As genetic screening becomes increasingly available, the abortion of defective babies goes from being an option to being expected—in the name of "public health." Parents are subtly made to feel guilty if they bring a defective child into the world. What we're seeing is the kick-start of a new eugenics movement—the idea that society ought to weed out those deemed unfit for a high quality of life. Eugenics thinking was widespread here in America before World War II. But it fell into disrepute after Americans saw the outcome of the eugenics program in Nazi Germany—where the retarded and handicapped were herded off to death camps. Today, however, eugenics thinking is sweeping back with startling speed. Oh, we're not going to see death camps and gas chambers again. Today's eugenics programs are much more sophisticated: They rely on the latest techniques of genetic screening and abortion in sterile surroundings. The March of Dimes has done a great deal of good since its founding in 1938. They still teach preventive health to pregnant mothers and earmark some of their funding to research in genetic therapy. But their involvement in genetic testing and their acceptance of abortion of defective babies represents what prolife leader John Willke calls "a little eugenics Auschwitz" on the side. So when March of Dimes fund raisers knock on your door, tell them you cannot support their organization until it becomes 100 percent prolife. A high view of human life demands that we hunt down genetic diseases. But we shouldn't be hunting down the babies themselves.


Chuck Colson


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