Autism Research and Prenatal Testing

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Some thoughts from B's Mum


"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Imagine that a political leader...

...went before the cameras, one day, to make a public announcement like this:

"We have a very serious crisis in dealing with a minority population of several million people.  Educating their children in our schools is getting to be quite a bother.  Providing services for them is too much of a nuisance and expense.  They are just too different from us: their strange ways are incomprehensible, and we don't need them in our society.  Therefore, we are building gas chambers that will be completed in 5 to 10 years, so that we can solve the problem once and for all."

Surely there would be a huge public outcry, you must be thinking, and everyone involved with the gas-chamber plan would be sacked immediately.  We're good people, after all, and we couldn't possibly stand mute while such evil unfolded.  Or could we?

"We have a very serious crisis in dealing with autism, a hereditary condition found in several million people.  Educating autistic children is a burden to our schools.  Providing services for the autistic population is too much of a drain on the budget.  Autistic people are just too different from us: their behaviours are strange and incomprehensible, and we don't need them in our society.  Therefore, we are funding genetic research studies that will result in a prenatal test within 5 to 10 years, so that we can solve the problem by putting pressure on frightened parents to abort them all."

Such studies are being funded in real life.  Where is the public outcry?

The supporters of the eugenics programme say that it is a charitable effort to prevent suffering.  An autistic life, they claim, is a defective and warped existence that cannot truly be considered a human life, and such unfortunate wretches would be better off dead.

There's just one problem with this claim: It's prejudiced rubbish without a shred of truth to it.  Of course, you don't have to take my word as a mother of an autistic child.  Instead, do your own research.  An Internet search for autistic pride, autistic culture, or similar phrases will turn up large numbers of intelligent, articulate, caring autistic people who write eloquently about their families, their experiences, their moral values, the international culture that they share, and their desire for social acceptance and integration.