Society’s attitudes towards euthanasia for people with disabilities are surely influenced not only by the medical technology developed to rehabilitate, heal or comfort us, but also methods used to conceive some children.
This article details a method for vetting imbalances in chromosomes in IVF – conceived oocytes, as they mature into embryos. The idea is to test for chromosomal difficulties that may cause miscarriage, but the technique also makes it easier to screen oocytes for Down’s Syndrome. At this stage, they can be easily “weeded out”. The process of deciding that some children’s lives are not worth living is begun, and society is sent a strong message that some lives are simply not worth the trouble. Any person conceived in this way, whether they turn out to have a disability or not, may be regarded as merely a product, the result of an artificial process, and worthy only of the respect given to such products, not that due to to a human being with full rights and responsibilities. No wonder the approach of IVF clinics described as “wholesale”.
Using IVF techniques that may also increase the number of fertilised eggs with abnormalities like those found in Down’s Syndrome places people on a disturbing continuum from unnatural conception to the possibility of an unnatural death.