Richard Dawkins Says He Would Abort A Down Syndrome Fetus, Twitter Goes Bananas

pregnant woman blood testOh, Richard Dawkins. For such a smart man, how do you still not completely understand what Twitter is and isn’t used for? Last month you were quipping adorably about “mild” pedophilia and the much worse “violent pedophilia”, and now you’re working hard to ensure that everyone hates you by waxing philosophic about Down Syndrome fetuses and whether or not they should be aborted.

Yesterday Dawkins started poking the hornet’s nest again after one of his Twitter followers posed a hypothetical question:

twitter_dawkinsAnd so it began. You can probably predict what happened next. People got angry. People got very angry. There were a lot of people on Twitter who stopped by just to remind Dawkins that plenty of individuals with Down Syndrome were healthy adults who contribute to society, and to accuse Dawkins’ of advocating for eugenics.


Dawkins of course went on to defend his position, and let me tell you that that little milkshake brought all kinds of angry people to the yard, so of course he just kept on going and going:

Then he went on to clarify some of his points:

Oh Dawksie, just stop. I refer you back to your earlier post where you reminded people that “this was no place for emotion”. Wrong. Twitter is like, 80% unbridled emotion, and the rest is just mediocre pictures of food and heinous racism.

The fact is, you just can’t relay the subtleties of any ethical or moral debate in 140 characters, and it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to get butthurt when people don’t understand you. There’s a whole lot of reading between the lines that has to go on, and that’s not easy to do in the short amount of space that you’re provided on a platform like Twitter.

The other thing that I think Richard Dawkins sometimes forgets is how to be a human person. I think more people took issue with the blase way he sharted out his tweet than they did anything else.

Dawkins is not incorrect when he says that many women choose abortion when they find that their child has Down Syndrome. Some do not. But I think it is a rare person who is not deeply affected when faced with that choice; it’s certainly not an easy one.

I am extremely pro-choice, and even I’m not sure what I would do in such a situation. I tend to stay away from hypotheticals like this anyway, because I think it’s kind of shitty to play a little game of “Would You Rather” for my own intellectual stimulation when other people are faced with the actual choice.

I certainly wouldn’t play that game publicly.

I like Richard Dawkins. I think he’s pompous and arrogant but he’s definitely not the worst person in the world. I like that he is a strong and unashamed voice for atheism. But for a smart man, he really can be a bit dense.

He at least acknowledges this in a blog post he put up today over on his website, where he admits that Twitter is a shit place to argue something that requires a little more depth and finesse:

“Here is what I would have said in my reply to this woman, given more than 140 characters:

”Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do.  I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.”

That’s what I would have said, if a woman were to ask my advice. As you might notice, it takes a lot more than 140 characters! I condensed it down to a tweet, and the result was understandably seen in some quarters as rather heartless and callous: ”Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” Of course I regret using abbreviated phraseology which caused so much upset.”

So there’s that. Something of an apology. And now, to cleanse your palate, here’s a GIF of Richard Dawkins evolving into Emma Watson. You’re welcome.

(Image: Zhobolov Vadim/Shutterstock)

Similar Posts