Who are the Nobel prize winners who promoted the idea of infanticide of handicapped babies? P.N. Vancouver B.C.
Two Nobel laureates are on record for expressing support for infanticide, though they avoided using that term. In May 1973, James Watson, of DNA fame, stated:
“If a child were declared not alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice only a few are given under the present system. The doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering. I believe this view is the only rational, compassionate attitude to have.” (Time, May 28, 1973).
In January 1978 another Nobel laureate, Francis Crick, was quoted in the Pacific News Service as saying: “No newborn infant should be declared human until is has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment and that if it fails these tests, it forfeits the right to live.” (F.Schaeffer and C.E. Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?)
The film Whatever Happened to the Human Race shows a number of patients and former patients of Dr. Koop. One of these, a young graduate student, was a thalidomide baby, born without a left leg, and without arms below the elbow. His remarks could have been directed to Watson aand Crick.
“They don’t really see that what they are talking about is murder. I know, when I was born, the first thing my dad said to my mom was that ‘this one needs our love more. An individual with a handicap needs our love and needs us to help him grow into that being God has made him to be. They are advocating that we destroy these children before they’re even given a chance to live and to conquer their handicaps. I’m very glad to be alive…I think the secret of living with a handicap is realizing who you are-that you are a human being, somebody who is very special-looking at the things you can do in spite of your handicap, and maybe even through your handicap.
How do scientists manage to hide information about experimentation such as slicing human embryos and cross fertilization of animals and humans? How do they get support? M.K. London, Ont,
The best answer that I know was given to the Australian Senate Committee by Melbourne’s St. Vincent Bioethics center. It tells how the research teams use the media.
“Keep silent about the nature of one’s research until a clinical application has been found and some clinical successes have been achieved. At that point one can safely announce a breakthrough in the knowledge that the successful clinical application will guarantee support from those who suffer from medical conditions which may be alleviated by the procedure. Withhold all information about clinical failures and the adverse effects and use media exposure of one’s successful experimental subjects to engender public support while emphasizing the plight of those who have not yet benefited from the technique but could do so if the research were expanded were expanded with additional funding.
“Having thus established a climate of public sympathy and acceptance one can pursue research interests without hindrance and probably with greater finding. The experimental nature of one’s work and the possible social consequences will be hidden behind the façade of the accolades and emotional support for the limited clinical studies…”
“In brief, you should emphasize clinical successes, withhold information about failures, risks and adverse effects, and appeal to ethics committees and to altruism and mere moral opinions of your team researchers against the dogmatism and lack of sympathy of opposition spokespersons.”
Unfortunately, this programme works, and there are no ways of policing what goes on in embryo research laboratories, or in research in genetic engineering.
I remember very well that in the 1960’s, in my home town, Oldham, England, the local medical establishment was deeply concerned about Dr. Steptoe’s secret experimentations. The later turned out to be attempts to create and transplant human embryos. Despite doctor’s meetings, questions in the local newspaper, and the obvious discomfort of the scientific community there were no answers until just before the first test tube baby was born. Meanwhile unknown numbers of new human beings had perished in Petri dishes.