It has started, from the first baby to be born without the breast cancer gene to screening for autism, science is reaching up the birth canal and performing it's miracles. I don't think science should have any morality, it's not the business of scientists, and more often than not morality can stop science in it's tracks (ie stem cell research), but is autism or Downes syndrome or similar non-life threatening conditions sufficient reason to deny someone a chance at life? Dirac (above) is a good example.
(btw Prof. S. Baron-Cohen is not Borat!!)
I think testing should always be an option available to people, and if there's a history of it in the family, testing should be mandatory. Yes, mandatory. But how to proceed after that should be left up to the parent (not just one, but both). (edited for clarity)
Why? what's wrong with autistic people? as they say in the link above, it's not an illness it's a spectrum condition that makes people a little odd (with varying degrees) a LOT of people are at least a teeny bit autistic. I'm also 'a little odd' (though not autistic), and the word mandatory sounds a little like eugenics if you ask me. There are dangerous waters ahead.
I think it needs to be handled carefully, but I agree with testing for serious health conditions. I'm not saying that people should be required to abort if there is a health condition, but they should be fully aware of the implications. The choice of action should be theirs alone.
As for odd, well, I having chronic insomnia so I don't get a lot of sleep, plus I'm English; at this point, odd is a way of life for me ;)
My sister is mildly autistic, and my son has asperger's so I know a bit about this subject. Now, I was on birth control when I fell pregnant with my son, and had planned on never having kids, ever. Obviously I didn't abort him despite that, and I never would have, even if I'd have known how difficult it would be raising him. Just because we're aware of a child having a problematic disorder doesn't mean that we don't want them :) I would have definitely liked to have been aware of it before his birth, though.
Asperger's Syndrome isn't autism though. It falls under the Autism Spectrum in the States, and it shares some similar symptoms, but it isn't autism. Too many people confuse that.
As for breeding out impurities, it generally isn't something I agree with either, but I also don't see why other people should have that option taken away from them. Raising a child with disabilities is so difficult that I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It isn't something that everyone can do. I don't agree with testing specifically for things like eye and hair colour, etc. but when it comes to health disorders, yeah, sure, why shouldn't people have that option?
I agree, I know a number of 'normal' people who display symptoms of slight autism ... there are surely conditions with which you wouldn't want your child to be born with and severely inhibit their ability to live happy lives but I don't think autism is one of those things (I'll look up Asperger's, I don't know what it is). Also, Downes people can be a burden on their carers but can we say they are not happy? and their lives aren't worth living? When we can scan for all these conditions I have little doubt that we will, then we will be self-eugenisizing .... I don't have answers here, only questions.
I'll make sure to pass on your opinion to the doctors and psychs that my son (who has Aspergers) currently sees. But I won't argue this here with you :)
I can see where you're coming from, and where most people would see the tests as a chance to eliminate the disorders/diseases/negative qualities, but I see it as a chance to forewarn people of what they would be getting into. Take steps to prepare for raising a child with these impairments, instead of being shocked when it comes out of the blue. Forewarned is forearmed, is that the saying? And knowledge is power.
That said, I don't see why people shouldn't abort if they know their child is going to be born with severe autism, sickle cell, whatever other serious disorders they can diagnose in the womb. Why shouldn't they? It's their choice and no one else has to agree with it, and no one else should take away their chance to make that choice either.
I'm sorry about your son, I didn't mean to offend, (did I?) you're obviously much more qualified to comment on this subject than I am. My concern is where will it stop? The more we know about genetics the further we go down a rocky road toward a 'Gattaca' situation (if you've not seen the film, I'd recommend it). http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/12/prenatal-autism-...
They are discussing this topic today in the Guardian. It's a dodgy topic and one I only have an overview on, so I'll stay out of the details.
I wish you and your son well.
Again, I want to stress that I see this as a way of providing a head start for parents, a way for them to start preparing in advance, to start learning and getting ready for the challenges they may face.
Also, a feotus is not a child. So why would I feel guilty about aborting it? If my parents had chosen to abort one of their children, why would it matter to me? It isn't like I would ever have known that child, or as if it were any of my business, or my place to make a judgement on my parents, or anyone else, who made that decision.
I think focussing on the eugenics, the designer baby, side of the issue is too one sided. We need to look at how this can aid parents in the future, and how it can prepare them for challenges they and their children will face in life.
the only future i see coming from the testing and screening of fetuses is the one where we literally "shop" for a child based on possible outcomes. Personally, I think parents should have the option to keep or abort, and being that with autism sometimes comes some of the most brilliant minds (like Fluther said, Dirac) it would be a tough decision. However, if it were me I would choose not to have a child with autism, because although there are odds that they might turn out to be a genius and whatnot, there are also very high odds they will be like the hundreds of kids with autism I've met who cannot speak or interact at all, which is not the kind of life I would want my child to lead. The future will come with some really big advances like it always does, and there are always the people who want to cling to the past because they're scared of what may come, but change will happen whether we want it to or not, so we need to embrace it and realize how novel this new technology really is.
The Science and the technology that make this possible has the WOW factor. I have thought long and hard about this and find myself coming down on my original first thoughts.
If everyone can have access to the screening and its not a financial concern, then by all means let science take us there. As an advoctae of pro choice I would be more than happy to leave it in the hands of each individual couple to decide and ultimately the final choice being with the expecting mother.
Except that it wouldn't be so clearly divided. Naturally, there would be agencies and charities and what have you that would provide such services to the poor, for less or for free, just like everything else. Also, there would be some people who would do it illegally, some people who would naturally do it for less to take advantage of that larger market, so on and so forth.
H.G. Wells got it all wrong. There are never such clear distinctions, humans live on a sliding scale, on a bell curve.