The 'Medea Complex,' Feminist-Style

Kelly Kuhns holds her son, Oliver, in Plain City, Ohio. Kuhns is advocating for an Ohio bill that would ban abortions based on the type of pre-natal Down syndrome diagnosis she received for her son, Oliver. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)

Just when you think the Left can’t get any worse, along comes Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post, with this gem:

There is a new push in antiabortion circles to pass state laws aimed at barring women from terminating their pregnancies after the fetus has been determined to have Down syndrome. These laws are unconstitutional, unenforceable — and wrong.

This is a difficult subject to discuss because there are so many parents who have — and cherish — a child with Down syndrome. Many people with Down syndrome live happy and fulfilled lives. The new Gerber baby with Down syndrome is awfully cute.

I have had two children; I was old enough, when I became pregnant, that it made sense to do the testing for Down syndrome. Back then, it was amniocentesis, performed after 15 weeks; now, chorionic villus sampling can provide a conclusive determination as early as nine weeks. I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.


“Grieved the loss and moved on” — truly the banality of evil hiding behind a cheap sentiment.

And I am not alone. More than two-thirds of American women choose abortion in such circumstances. Isn’t that the point — or at least inherent in the point — of prenatal testing in the first place?

Only a Democrat could possibly think like this. The point of prenatal testing, to those who believe in the sanctity of all human life, is to help the prospective parents get a jump on welcoming their new arrival; it is not to kill it should it turn out to be in any way inconvenient. Pace Baudelaire, but the Devil’s greatest trick was not to persuade us he didn’t exist, but to convince women to kill their own children and feel good about it. Unfettered abortion, when you stop to think about it, is truly satanic. Medea, the vengeful, murderous heroine of Euripides’ play of the same name, who kills her own children in a fit of jealous pique, had nothing on these women.

I respect — I admire — families that knowingly welcome a baby with Down syndrome into their lives. Certainly, to be a parent is to take the risks that accompany parenting; you love your child for who she is, not what you want her to be.

But accepting that essential truth is different from compelling a woman to give birth to a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised. Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate cognitive impairment, meaning an IQ between 55 and 70 (mild) or between 35 and 55 (moderate). This means limited capacity for independent living and financial security; Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family.

I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted. That was not the choice I would have made. You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision.


I thought we put paid to sentiments like this in 1945 — that some lives just weren’t worth living, and it was up to the civil authorities to decide who lives and who dies — but apparently not. That women, humanity’s nurturers, think this way is both appalling and a testimonial to the effects of the cultural-Marxist project that has elevated “rights” over decency, history, tradition, faith, and morality.

Which brings us to the Supreme Court. North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana and Louisiana passed legislation to prohibit doctors from performing abortions if the sole reason is because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome; Utah’s legislature is debating such a bill. These laws are flatly inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, reaffirmed in 1992, that “it is a constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy.” Of the woman.

Slavery and segregation were also morally inconsistent with the Dred Scott and Plessy Supreme Court decisions, but hey, that never bothered Democrats until relatively recently. Unless you think the Minnesota Twins (Burger and Blackmun) were speaking with papal infallibility in the Roe decision, that judicial enormity can be overturned as well.

Technological advances in prenatal testing pose difficult moral choices about what, if any, genetic anomaly or defect justifies an abortion. Nearsightedness? Being short? There are creepy, eugenic aspects of the new technology that call for vigorous public debate. But in the end, the Constitution mandates — and a proper understanding of the rights of the individual against those of the state underscores — that these excruciating choices be left to individual women, not to government officials who believe they know best.


Marcus is clueless to the implications of her own argument. The vigorous public debate that she calls for was cut off by Roe, to the great moral detriment of our nation and to the proper workings of a democratic republic. If Roe were overturned tomorrow, abortion would still be legal in 50 states, and the decision when and for how many weeks to allow it would be returned to the people via their state representatives.

Marcus’s column, while shameful, at least has the virtue of being honest about what the Left really believes. And if you think this mindset would stop with abortion if they thought they could get away with it, think again.




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