*       *       *       *       *       *

*       *       *       *       *       *
NIH Scholar Suggests Abortions for Disabled Children

Washington, DC -- Disability advocates and pro-life groups are up in arms
after a scholar from the National Institutes of Health said America would
benefit from aborting the blind and disabled.

In a speech earlier this month at the University of Rhode Island,
"biomedical ethicist" Dan W. Brock said his views are not discriminatory,
and he said any decision must be left to parents, without government

Brock said that his beliefs are his own and do not represent those of the
National Institutes of Health or the federal government. He also said it is
not the first time he has faced criticism for his views.

The speech was meant, in part, to counter that criticism and offer a
defense for genetic testing, which Brock said is not like the eugenics
practiced by the Nazis. German dictator Adolf Hitler used eugenics, killing
disabled individuals and then Jews, with the goal of creating a perfect

But two pro-life groups said Brock's theory could have a detrimental impact
on future generations.

"It's a hidden agenda that they want to rid our country of people who may
cause us to care for them and protect them and may even cost some money,"
said Tom Lothamer, interim director of Baptists for Life. "If we have that
kind of a culture of death, then I believe our country is doomed. If we can
do away with the disabled, then who's next?"

Wendy Wright, spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America, echoed those
sentiments. She said Brock's theories undermine the field of bioethics and
lead society down a dangerous path.

"It's particularly dangerous when you target people because of a
disability," Wright said. "As we've seen throughout history, it's too easy
for people who don't have a moral compass to fall into that way of
thinking. Once people start down that slope, that inevitably expands to
other classes of people."

Brock said this is not the first time he has been criticized by those in
the disability and pro-life communities. As for the argument that he is
promoting eugenics, "One thing doesn't always lead to every other thing,"
he said.

"One can distinguish between using this testing, either pre-conception or
post-conception, to prevent the birth of children with very serious
disabling diseases from any implications of how we should treat people who
are born and live with those diseases," Brock said.

Other bioethics specialists have also challenged his views, including
Adrienne Asch, a professor at Wellesley College, who said Brock has failed
to understand how disabled individuals cope with their disabilities.

Brock, for instance, said blind individuals cannot enjoy the paintings at
an art gallery and people with cognitive disabilities are unable to perform
basic daily functions. For those reasons, he said, parents should give
genetic testing some thought.

"Even after we've made all the accommodations of justice and equality of
opportunity, there would still be some residual disadvantage from being
seriously cognitively disabled or being blind," Brock said. "It's a
judgment not about the person; it's a judgment about the condition and a
judgment that it would be better if the children who are born don't have
that condition."

Asch said blind individuals might not be able to see two-dimensional art,
but that does not mean they cannot appreciate other things in life.

"Not every human being can do everything," Asch said, citing the
athleticism of a basketball player or the knowledge of a mathematician.
"Everybody has things they are able to experience and things they are not."

For Penny Reeder, who is blind, Brock's theories are hurtful. She said if
genetic testing becomes prominent, parents would be faced with difficult
ethical decisions.

"How dare he say that he's not denigrating people with disabilities when
he's advocating aborting a pregnancy of a potential person with a
disability. It's just amazing to me," said Reeder, who cited her job as a
magazine editor as evidence that blind people can succeed.

Lothamer said the issue also extends beyond bioethics into an area where
parents must decide if they should play the role of a higher being. But
Brock was quick to counter that assessment as well.

"Medicine is in the business of messing with nature and God's will," he
said. "Medicine tries to intervene in what would otherwise happen by
natural processes or God's will. We normally think that if we can prevent
serious suffering, then artificial interventions are justified."

Even Asch conceded that some parents would probably adopt Brock's way of
thinking, but said she hopes those parents also consider the positive
impact disabled individuals can have on society.

"I think people should get to make the decisions they want to make," Asch
said. "I think they need to have better information about life with
disability before they make those decisions, but if they ultimately make
those decisions, then they make them."

From:  The Pro-Life Infonet <infonet@prolifeinfo.org>
Reply-To:  Steven Ertelt <infonet@prolifeinfo.org>
Subject:   NIH Scholar Suggests Abortions for Disabled Children
Source:   Cybercast News Service; November 25, 2002

*       *       *       *       *       *

MONTREAL, October 10, 2002 (LSN.ca) - In a third installment of National
Post op-eds in connection with the McGill conference on Pluralism, Religion
and Public Policy, Margaret Somerville, a professor at McGill's Centre for
Medicine, Ethics and Law, condemns "new genetics" which she says "is
functioning as eugenics."

"Decisions by individuals based on pre implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
of IVF embryos, or prenatal screening of fetuses," she says, "mean we will
eliminate certain groups of people, for example, Down's syndrome children,
from our society."

"Intense individualism leads to claims of rights to 'absolute reproductive
freedom'," she says, "that is, claims that decisions about reproduction are
no one else's business -- especially not the state's business to interfere
with through law -- and one should be absolutely free to reproduce in
whatever way and reproduce whatever kind of child one wishes. That is an
adult-centred reproductive decision-making model. But should the
decision-making be, rather, future child-centred, especially when there is
a conflict between what is best for the future parents and for the future

"We should remember," she adds, "that the ethical tone of a society is set
by how it treats its weakest, most in need, most vulnerable members, not
those who are powerful, able and can protect themselves. What ethical tone
will we hand on to our near and far-distant descendants, especially
regarding respect for human life?"

Source: LifeSite Daily News (lsn@lifesite.net)

*       *       *       *       *       *
Eugenics Records on Forced Sterilizations Shredded in Oregon

Portland, OR -- Records chronicling the forced sterilization of 2,650
Oregonians have disappeared or been shredded, erasing proof of one of the
state's most troubling chapters that advocates now want addressed.

Extensive searches for the records of the Board of Eugenics and its
successor, the Board of Social Protection, have so far turned up little
beyond annual two-page reports issued before 1950.

That's because the records were shredded at the request of a state employee
-- whose identity remains a mystery -- and in violation of state law.

"We destroyed them," said John Murphy, president of the nonprofit Portland
Habilitation Center, which held the state contract to shred the records. "I
remember them very clearly. We had to decide ethically because we had an
obligation to destroy them, but we were thinking, 'Someday these could be
the evidence of an atrocity.' "

Employees at the 50-year-old firm are combing their files for the order
that accompanied the shipment about a decade ago. Murphy thinks the files
came from Dammasch State Hospital in Wilsonville, which closed in 1995. But
two former Dammasch superintendents said they do not remember seeing the
eugenics records or ordering their destruction.

Oregon State Archives and state library employees, shocked at the potential
loss, want to find that order, too. Under state law, the state archivist
decides what records can be destroyed and when.

Unauthorized destruction of state records is a misdemeanor.

"They didn't have authorization to throw those records away. Nobody here
would have ever scheduled those things for destruction," said Mary Beth
Herkert, who manages the archives records center.

Without a record, the history of what happened depends on the memory of
those who were there. Former members of the Board of Eugenics, chiefly the
superintendents of state institutions who met quarterly, have hazy or
incomplete recollections.

"This was 40 years ago," said Dr. Dean Brooks, former superintendent of the
Oregon State Hospital. He remembers a handful of people being sterilized.
But one existing record shows that 26 people from his institution were
sterilized in a two-year period.

The records' disappearance comes as survivors and 17 organizations
representing people with disabilities, mental illness and gays want Gov.
John Kitzhaber to apologize for the state's eugenics law.

As a legislator, Kitzhaber served on the joint committee that helped repeal
the law in 1983. But advocates want him to acknowledge the state's
sterilization policies that for years were used to prevent "defectives" from
having children. They included anyone considered "feebleminded, insane,
epileptic, a habitual criminal or sexual pervert who is likely to become a
menace to society," as well as people convicted of rape or sodomy.

After 1967, when the eugenics board was revamped into the Board of Social
Protection, the law was chiefly used to sterilize those with mental illness
or mental disability.

On Monday, state employees, acting at The Oregonian's request, completed a
fruitless search of the Oregon State Hospital basement in Salem as student
archivists scrutinized microfilm of board minutes from prior to 1963.
Missing are case files, consent forms and any record of the last 20 years'
work of the Board of Eugenics and Board of Social Protection.

No trace remains of two cases that reached the Oregon Court of Appeals in
the early 1970s, including one that the U.S. Supreme Court later declined
to hear.

Murphy and his employees remember shredding the records from the state
mental health division because the contents were so disturbing. Inside
"nicely bound volumes," Murphy said, were the analysis, discussion and
conclusion of board members who referred to people in the medical terms of
the time: idiots, mongoloids and cretins.

"All the playground insults you've ever heard in your life seemed to be the
categories that they put people in," Murphy said. "Every ugly term you can
think of for human beings. . . . This wasn't a book or two. This was a
bunch of stuff."

The memory sticks with Murphy for another reason. Portland Habilitation
Center is one of the state's largest employers of people with disabilities
and mental illness.

"The very people who at one time would have been put in harm's way by the
board, instead made a living wage shredding the remnants of its work," said
Peter Bragdon, senior counsel for Columbia Sportswear Co. and a former
member of the Portland Habilitation Center board.

Murphy said his staff assumed that the documents, like the canceled checks
and other records they routinely handle, had been microfilmed. But no such
microfilm has been found.

Some documentation does exist, in patient medical records from Fairview
Hospital and other institutions. Those records include dates of
sterilization procedures and medical notes such as the laboratory analysis
of tissue. But the rationale for the sterilizations does not appear. Many
victims never knew what happened to them.

James Taves, a state employee who co-wrote the legislation repealing
Oregon's eugenics law in 1983, remembers that while researching the law, he
saw records of operations on 9- and 11-year-old girls for "hygienic

Some families placed relatives in Fairview Hospital and Training Center for
only as long as needed for them to be sterilized. The institution, which
reported sterilizing more than half the people being discharged for several
years, curtailed such procedures in the early 1970s. Authorities attributed
the change to the growing human rights movement.

But the change at Fairview also coincided with the death of Elonda
Murchison, 29, who died while recovering from a hysterectomy, according to
a 1975 report by Willamette Week.

Jon Cooper, who oversaw the closure of Fairview in 2000 and has worked to
preserve some of that institution's history, said people in his field
routinely ditched unsavory history as public opinion changed. Someone
looking for evidence that physical restraints were used at Fairview, for
instance, would have had a hard time finding any in 1987, even though 10
years earlier there had been many.

"When it became politically incorrect to have them there, they just
disappeared," Cooper said.

One of the chief legal and historical experts of eugenics said records have
disappeared nationwide. Paul Lombardo, a University of Virginia law
professor and historian whose research has driven much of the eugenics
discussion nationwide, said the destruction of such records represents "the
worst kind of bureaucratic negligence."

"Now there is no evidence that would allow government to reflect and say,
'We did this' or for people to look at it and learn from it, or for the
people involved to make the case they've been harmed or even document the
fact it happened," Lombardo said.

"It's a tragedy and a terrible way to conduct public policy."

In the hushed halls of the Oregon State Library, librarian Merrialyce
Blanchard oversees a eugenics collection that includes more than 80 items,
only a single page of which records what happened in Oregon.

Blanchard, who said she has gone out of her way to preserve and protect the
collection, is disturbed by news of the records' destruction.

"If we lose this information, we could rewrite our own history."

From:  The Pro-Life Infonet <infonet@prolifeinfo.org>
Reply-To:  Steven Ertelt <infonet@prolifeinfo.org>
Source:   Portland Oregonian; July 30, 2002

*       *       *       *       *       *

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is sponsoring a National
Black Religious Summit on Sexuality.  RCRC is at the forefront of the
pro-abortion movement.
The background on Sanger's "Negro Project" can be found at

Editor's note: The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice comprises
national organizations from the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Unitarian
Universalist Association, Reform and Conservative Judaism, and other
faith traditions.

Source: American Life League "Communique" (communique@all.org)

*       *       *       *       *       *
Virginia Governor Apologizes for Forced Sterilizations
NewsMax.com Wires    (Friday, May 3, 2002)
RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Mark Warner issued a formal apology Thursday for the state's decision to forcible sterilize thousands
of Virginians from 1924 to 1979.
His apology coincides with the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Buck vs. Bell decision upholding Virginia's eugenics
sterilization law.
"Today, I offer the commonwealth's sincere apology for Virginia's participation in eugenics," the recently elected Democrat said.
"As I have previously noted, the eugenics movement was a shameful effort in which state government never should have been
involved," said Warner. "We must remember the commonwealth's past mistakes in order to prevent them from recurring."
Virginia forcible sterilized about 7,450 people under the banner of eugenics, or selective human breeding and social engineering.
The practice continued in Virginia until 1979. It ranked second only behind California, which had 20,108 sterilizations.
The governor's statement was read aloud by state Del. Mitchell Van Yahres at a Charlottesville event Thursday honoring the
memory of Carrie Buck, an 18-year-old unwed mother who was the first person forcibly sterilized under the state's 1924 statute.
With its 8-1 decision in the Buck vs. Bell case on May 2, 1927, the Supreme Court cleared the way for tens of thousands of
Besides Virginia and California, eugenics laws were passed in 28 additional states, including North Carolina (6,297), Michigan
(3,786) and Georgia (3,284).
Will Taxpayers Get Stuck Again?
Last year, the Virginia's General Assembly passed a resolution expressing "profound regret" for the state's role in eugenics, but
stopped short of a formal apology because of concern that an apology could lead to lawsuits.
Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said after consulting with Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the governor thought there would be
no "legal repercussions" from issuing an apology.
In Canada, the government of Alberta apologized in 1999 for the forced sterilization of more than 2,800 people. The government
paid more than $140 million to compensate victims.