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OPINION: Demonic Dawkins dared to answer a question on Downs

He's at it again. The Mirror, the Times and the Guardian have all vocalised the extent of his callous behaviour. Are there no depths of hatred he won't stoop to?

Sheikh Yahuba has performed another witch doctor 'healing' in East London, extorting vulnerable and credulous families out of hundreds of pounds. No, hang on, that's not what this is about. 

Sorry, I got that wrong. Let me start again.

Radical cleric Anjem Choudary announced he would 'love to live' in ISIS-controlled Iraq, and 'will come back and conquer Britain one day', encouraging Muslim men to join the caliphate and impose it on the UK. 

Wait, sorry. That wasn't it. Another false start to this article.

Last week, 'callous', 'outlandish' Richard Dawkins dared to express an opinion on the morality of terminating a pregnancy, grounding his views in scientific fact and knowledge of the medical practices. The heartless heathen athiest had the gall to answer a question he was asked on Twitter about what he would do if he had a Downs syndrome child. He first answered with the statistics about what most people do, which is terminate the pregnancy and try for another. When questioned, he insisted that aborting would be a 'moral' action, if viewed in Utilitarian terms. He insisted and repeated all the while that this was a personal moral decision, not to be imposed on others.


How dare anyone insist that those parents who elect to terminate a pregnancy due to a degenerative disease could have a utilitarian moral basis for their decision. 

The Guardian's Giles Fraser reminds us that such thinking is basically eugenics, like the Nazis. "It doesn’t seem that the human is any safer in the hands of humanists" he quips, wittily punning on 'humans' and 'humanists' to better explain the issue.

What qualification does Dawkins have to answer a question he was asked on Twitter, and give an assessment on matters of Biology? How on earth would he know what to do?

Thank God we've got the Christian Post to put him right. And Sarah Palin. She's invited him round to meet her son, and to inform the man on the morality and truth of the matter. And we all know who will wipe the floor with whom in that debate.

Better put a stop to militant atheists and this nasty little tendency to answer questions on morality and express viewpoints. The wolf is right on our doorstep. It's time to act.


  1. This is a rather odd debate. I suppose that logically if you support the concept of abortion on demand, then it really doesn't matter what the reason is. It could be wrong sex, eye colour, skin shade just as much as whether the person has a disablity. If you believe that abortion is always wrong the again there is no debate to be had, because you believe abortion is wrong.

    It is not clear to me whether Dawkins supports a womans right to choose in all circumstances or simply when a foetus has a disability. If he supports the concept of a womans right to choose, then the issue of Downs is a red herring. If he only supports abortion when there are "grounds" then there is a debate to be had. What are the grounds where its OK and what are the grounds where its not. At what point is someone "human" enough to justify being allowed the right to life.

    As someone who believes in democracy, I believe that the government has the legitimate right to pass laws which contradict my own personal minority views. I also believe in free speech, so I have the right to make my case and if I can make it well enough, then hopefully I can change peoples minds.

    As someone who has a Downs syndrome family member and many Downs syndrome friends, my personal view is that they should have the same protection and rights as the rest of us. I find it terrible that they are singled out by Richard Dawkins as "examples" of "lesser humanity". I have no issue with parents who may have an abortion when they find out that they have a Downs syndrome child, as I believe that our society lacks the compassion to support anyone but the most robust parents who have Downs children, but I believe this is a massive failure of our society. I can understand why a parent may conclude that it could be kinder (although I wouldn't make that decision personally).

    John Sullivan, who is the parent of a 50 year old Downs Syndrome and regularly writes blogs for the Barnet Eye on the subject of disability, has 50 years experience at the coal face of this. I suspect that John would have a very "lively debate" with Mr Dawkins if he suggested that Susan would have been better off being killed before she was born.

  2. Hi Rog,

    Firstly, thank you for visiting and leaving a comment; yours are always welcome, even the ones I completely disagree with.

    Unfortunately, your post really goes to prove another point Dawkins has made since this debacle took off on Twitter. People seem determined to misunderstand the point he was making in order to promote their own views.

    Dawkins was making a point of medical ethics about a decision faced daily by families and their doctors as to whether a Downs syndrome foetus is viable or not. An overwhelming number of those families are faced with the painful decision that it is not, and are often judged and reviled (mostly by religious groups) for their decision.

    What on earth does this have to do with eye colour or shade of skin? The viability of a severely disabled foetus with a condition which is degenerative is a medical issue and to muddle it with eugenics is to deliberately misunderstand the point Dawkins was asked to make.

    I don't have any definitive answers as to when a foetus is considered medically viable but I do know that thanks to scientific progress in this matter, it is earlier and earlier. The fact remains that when one is found to have Downs Syndrome, those families who decide against pursuing it have excellent reasons for doing so. That is not to knock those who decide to go ahead with it, including your family member.

    Dawkins himself has expressed support and admiration for families who battle daily for the support their relatives with Downs' need. At no point would anybody intelligent or sentient suggest their humanity is any less than anyone else's.

    I personally don't think I could a woman to abort a foetus. I simply agree that those who wish to spare their child a lifetime of the sorts of difficulties Downs' presented deserve a voice.

    Once again, Dawkins did nothing to suggest John should turn back time and reconsider his daughter's viability. That was not the point made.

    The abortion of Downs foetuses is a thorny issue at best. Dawkins made the mistake of giving his honest answer which is supported by the decisions of a majority of parents in some countries. Several religious groups have railroaded the issue for their own agenda, ignoring facts, science, points made and any moral nuance... Who comes out the worse?

  3. When you say that the "decision is supported by a majority of parents in some countries" I am not quite sure whether this legitimises it. I could 100% understand someone in China making the decision where there is a 1 child policy. Just suppose that in the UK we properly funded care for Downs & other forms of disability and had awareness campaigns and anti discrimintation campaigns to make any discrimintation against the disabled illegal and socially unacceptable. Would we Dawkins then say the same thing. I think the issue I have with Dawkins statement is in effect it is extremely discriminatory against the disabled. If you are of the opinion that the disabled a less important subgenre of the human family, then his statement is just fine. If you are of the opinion that we are all part of the same family and should be afforded the same rights and protections, then it clearly isn't. Given that society itself is discriminatory, I would never demonise parents who made the decision Dawkins seems to be endorsing, but I do think Dawkins, probably very unintentionally, is legitimising discrimination. This is a rocky road and one which leads to the Nazi style Eugenics policies. I don't consider Dawkins to be someone who supports such things, but his views are a gateway to them.

    Just one other small thing. I don't think that because people have a superior intellect and can make a point better, it necessarily means they are correct. It simply means they are more articulate. This can be demonstrated by the fact that 500 years ago the clergy were better educated and informed than the general populace. This enabled them to "win" the arguments. Did it make them right? Therefore, just because Dawkins may (or may not for all we know) be more articulate than the mother you refer to in your blog, doesn't mean he is correct, does it? I'm not saying it makes him wrong either, just cautioning on reading too much into mismatched debates.

  4. By the way, I notice that the advert above Mr Salems ad says that you only pay on results. Seems like a fair deal. I've never heard of Mr Salem previously. Presumably some of the people he's "helped" must have thought they got value for money? What is your advice to them? Presumably some of the people who attend such sessions genuinely believe they've been cured or helped. They are often quite right given that often Placebo is the most powerful medicine of all. So if someone is genuinely cured by the placebo effect of Mr Salems treatments, can you genuinely say he adds no value at all. I know a doctor who always refers patients with what she thinks are imaginary ailments to a local homeopath and generally they are cured, feel much better and swear by homoeopathy. This results in savings to the local NHS budget. So I don't necessarily think it is all quite as black and white as you see it

  5. Hi Rog,

    Once again, your reply is welcome, but misguided.

    You misread me. I wrote that "Dawkins' view is supported by the DECISIONS of the majority of parents in some countries" i.e. that over 60% of parents in the USA alone choose to terminate pregnancies when Downs Syndrome is identified early. Are all those people morally bankrupt? Dawkins was first and foremost explaining what most people already do, and stating that there is a moral framework to support it which any doctor or anybody knowledgeable in this area will confirm. That is not the same as encouraging people to abort.

    To equate the complex ethical decisions of millions of parents to Nazi eugenics is a point that isn't worthy of anybody willing to spend ten minutes reading up on the matter, and I'm surprised you would make it. The only thing it achieves is showing up the lack of understanding of those who make it. That's why I would relish the opportunity for a biologist as knowledgeable as Dawkins to be able to debate a nutbag zealot such as Sarah Palin. A few on the religious right would learn a thing or two about these complex issues if they attended such a debate.

    Is intelligence helpful when trying to work your way through a labyrinth of biological and medical ethics. I'd say so, yes.

    The viability of a foetus shouldn't be confused with the provision for the disabled. Nature itself is the great aborter of non-viable foetuses. There is no contradiction in simultaneously arguing for more and better provision for Downs Syndrome patients but also accepting that there is a case (notice I haven't argued it is the right one, I simply state that it can be made) for terminating a pregnancy on these grounds. Again, that's not a one-size fits all moral edict. It's quite difficult to get across to anyone with a religious background that moral decisions can be nuanced and context-specific (with 15 years of Catholic 'education' I can confirm that from experience). Dawkins did not argue for abortion to be an 'imperative'; only Christian websites reported him as saying so.

    Your last point about Salem is easily answered. Witch doctors perform dangerous rituals such as drilling through the heads of children, and regularly extort people for thousands of points, which Salem did. This is not a victimless crime, or mere placebo. They are sinister individuals who profit from the credulity of the faithful and deserve to be named and shamed for the charlatans they are.

    Finally, on homeopathy, this website should help.

    Have a great day!


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