Man who discovered genetic cause of Down Syndrome was pro-life

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From a wonderful tribute at the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

April 3 marked the 12th anniversary of the death of noted Catholic physician and genetic researcher, Dr. Jérôme Lejeune who passed away on Easter Sunday, 1994. Dr. Lejeune is most remembered for discovering the chromosomal abnormality, or trisomy, that causes Down syndrome. He was an ardent defender of the dignity and inviolability of life and considered the assault against those diagnosed with genetic abnormalities a form of "chromosomal racism."

In our culture where the moral status of the embryo is being questioned and where Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) can now be diagnosed as early as the 9th or 10th week of pregnancy the threat to unborn children is tremendous. For Dr. Lejeune, however, the issue was clear. "Life begins at the instant that all the required and sufficient information is combined in order to define the new being. It therefore begins exactly at the instant that all the information brought by the spermatozoon is combined with the information contained in the ovum. As soon as the spermatozoon penetrates, the new entity begins its existence. Not as a theoretical human, but already an entity who we shall later call Peter, Paul or Mary."

This really touched me, maybe because I am in the medical genetics field and know that the information I provide is probably being used in all kinds of unethical ways.

I am sorry, Dr. Lejeune that we have taken your discovery and are using it to abort 80% of Down Syndrome babies. I am sorry that you are not here to champion the rights of Down Syndrome children and at the same time, glad that you are not here to witness how far down the slippery slope we have gone with pre-natal genetic testing and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Instead of curing the patient, we are killing the patient and calling it good. It seems that the only racism that is still acceptable, and even embraced, is "chromosomal racism."

1 Comment

I have a 14 month old with trisomy 21, she has a mild case of down syndrome and she is the best person in my life. I dont understand why anyone would want to abort their child just because of a disformality, its absured. Its like killing someone because they have cancer or somthing. Just because you might not want a child with a chromosomal disorder doesnt mean that someone else might not. People need to think things threw a little more before doing something dramatic (like abortion).




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