The same thing, with white gloves

I missed the initial report last month when Pope Francis spoke bluntly about the use of abortion as a eugenic instrument:

Pope Francis on Saturday called the practice of having an abortion after pre-natal tests have discovered possible birth defects a version of Nazi attempts to create a pure race by eliminating the weakest.

Francis made the comparison in a long, off-the-cuff address to a members of a confederation of Italian family associations.

“Children should be accepted as they come, as God sends them, as God allows, even if at times they are sick,” he said.

Francis then spoke of pre-natal tests to determine if a fetus has any illnesses or malformations.

“The first proposal, in that case, is ‘Should we get rid of it’? The killing of children. And to have a more tranquil life, an innocent is done away with,” he said.

“I say it with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to pursue the pureness of the race. Today, we are doing the same thing, with white gloves.”

Under Nazi eugenics programs, hundreds of thousands of people were forcibly sterilized and tens of thousands killed in an attempt to “clean” the chain of heredity of those with physical or cognitive disabilities.

Good for Pope Francis for speaking so clearly on this. Our individualistic, autonomy-cherishing, consumerist attitudes need these sort of gut-checks.

If we’re going to accept the logic that we can eliminate developing human persons due to predicted characteristics or disabilities, it’s hard to understand why we shouldn’t also accept Peter Singer’s logic that we should be able to eliminate born-but-undesired or born-but-ailing human persons for the same reasons.

And that would lead, certainly, to a freer and more autonomous society, but it would also be a liberty obtained by the strong at the expense of the weak in a society wherein no one’s rights are ultimately secure.