Commentary Magazine


“Targeted for Elimination”

The Weekly Standard has just surfaced, from its archives, a 1996 cover story by Tucker Carlson on Down Syndrome entitled “Eugenics, American Style.” This article, to my mind one of the most important published in the United States in the past 20 years, details the haphazard, unplanned, undebated, and horrifyingly successful effort to eliminate Down’s Syndrome babies from existence:

Unlike many other genetic anomalies, such as Tay-Sachs and anencephaly, Down Syndrome (also known as Down’s Syndrome or Trisomy 21) is not a terminal disorder. Children born with Down Syndrome are not vegetables, nor are their lives demonstrably not worth living. Indeed, advances in science and changes in public perception have combined to make Down Syndrome a relatively mild birth defect: The average child born with Down Syndrome in America today can expect to reside at home, go to school, learn to read, hold a job, and live to the age of 55. He will grow up cognizant of ethics and events, and will be mildly to moderately retarded, with an IQ of between 55 and 70. It is one of the triumphs of modern society that the life of the average person with Down Syndrome has become strikingly normal. Except that, unlike normal people, people with Down Syndrome have been targeted for elimination.

At the time, Carlson estimated 90 percent of Down Syndrome babies were being aborted as a result of prenatal testing. In the years since, doubtless, the health prospects of those born with Down, like Trig Palin, have continued to improve.

If they are allowed to live.