Fear of curing a disease

I can’t begin to explain how much I hate stupidity in its raw form. So when I read an article like this one, I desperately want to see someone slap the stupid out of the writer. Writing on cafemom.com, ironically with the tag “RANT”, world-class moron Mary Fischer says it just seems awful that anyone would want to cure a baby of Down syndrome.

Wait, what?

Read it in her words:

I think that if I were to have a baby born with Down syndrome — it would feel like I was somehow monkeying with nature by injecting him with something to physically alter who he is simply because he’s not “perfect,” — and something about that doesn’t seem right. [Emphasis in original.]

Now let’s be perfectly clear: A good parent loves their child unconditionally, and accepts that even though they may have issues here or there, they’re still a human being worthy of as much love and respect and nurturing as any other. I think everyone can agree on that. But that’s not to say that you should blindly accept a child’s deformity as part of “who he is” if you have the ability to correct it. Every good parent, ultimately, wants their child to grow up to live a full, healthy, rewarding life, and not to have to be dependent on others. A person with Down syndrome can have a good life, but not a full one (there’s so much they simply can’t do, and their lifespans aren’t as long), and not one free of dependency.

How does Mary not get this? Oh, right, because she’s an idiot.

And I know the argument can be made that trying to “reverse” Down syndrome isn’t really all that different from treating a baby who has an illness in the hopes of making him well again. But Down syndrome isn’t a disease (or at least I’ve never thought of it that way at all) — which makes me think that trying to reverse it is basically like trying to change a baby’s genetic makeup.

Wait, she doesn’t even think it’s a disease? It’s not one caused by a virus or bateria, but it’s just as much a disease as sickle-cell anemia, that mutation that causes people not to grow the ends of their fingers, and Huntington’s. It’s a genetic aberration. We’re not talking about the kid’s eye color or skin pigmentation or whether they can curl their tongue or wiggle their ears—this is a chromosomal anomaly that causes major health problems and impairs their functioning to the point where they will never, ever live a normal life. This is absolutely a disease.

Yes, love them. First and foremost. Love, respect, and treat them with the dignity that you’d treat anybody else. But if my kid had Progeria, and it was fixable, would I say “Oh well, that’s just who he is” or would I do something about it? Of course I’d fix it, because I’m not a moron. I want what’s best for them, and dying young and enjoying less out of life than I ever could is not that. If a person can feasibly improve their child’s life in a significant way, I’ll go as far as to say they have a responsibility to do so. If they can’t do so, it doesn’t mean they love their children any less, but “won’t” is a different subject entirely.

If I had a kid and had the ability to genetically correct their nearsightedness, I’d do it. I don’t particularly love that I’ve had to wear glasses most of my life; I’d prefer to live without the need for them, but the only alternative available to me right now has too many drawbacks. (Laser surgery isn’t entirely permanent because your eyes keep changing, it can only be done so many times, and it often causes permanent dry eye.) I would never be the guy to say “Well, my kid needs glasses; that’s just who he is.” Not if my kid could be nearly guaranteed a life without them until he was older. I’d fix colorblindness and deafness, too. We have to stop looking at disabilities as personality traits; it’s insulting to those who would gladly give them up.

And what in the frell is with this “Gosh, I’m afraid to monkey with nature” BS? Humans have been doing that since we existed. We’re pretty good at it. Just because some of the things we’ve done in that regard were colossal screw-ups doesn’t mean everything of the sort is bad. Raise your hand if you want to go live in a cave.

Now I understand eugenics can be (and good gads, has been) taken way too far. And I’m no fan of the abort-if-it-isn’t-right approach. But gene therapy is on the horizon, and we have to accept that it has valid uses. Some parents may want to change superficial traits, and that may well be a possibility down the road. It’s silly, but I don’t really see the harm; it doesn’t change who their child is because who they are will ultimately be determined by their life. But there are other genes we should absolutely wipe out, ones that cause major defects, if we have the capacity to correct them. I don’t find slippery slope arguments compelling when you’re comparing adult-onset schizophrenia or a near-certainty of breast cancer with changing hair from curly to straight because it’s more fashionable. And even so, I couldn’t care less; if the kid grows up enjoying a full life, what difference does it make if they have blue eyes or brown?

I define stupidity pretty simply: It’s the refusal to make use of your God-given reason and intelligence. A person who makes the most of what they have in this area is not stupid, whether they can understand quantum physics or not. Mary Fischer’s argument is downright stupid. This is a person who has enough intelligence to write coherent sentences, but can’t reconcile the ideas that you can love a person unconditionally and still want to give them a better life. This is a person who can’t grasp that loving someone because of a disability is every bit as idiotic as loving them because they’re a brilliant athlete. This person can’t understand that you can love someone for who they are but want to give them more, and love them just as much after as before.

Maybe pretty soon we’ll be able to fix Down syndrome. Gads I hope so, for the sake of every future child who would have had it but gets to live independently and fully instead. The science she’s referring to is actually about improving growth of the cerebellum, not so much a genetic fix, but the genetic fix is something we should anticipate for the future. But as Ron White said, and I’m looking at Mary here: You can’t fix stupid.

About Lummox JR

Aspiring to be a beloved supervillain
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