OK, consider this a short update on our comments-page arguments about whether public debates about abortion are, in and of themselves, a "religious" matter. It's poignant to watch this debate, and others linked to it, lived out in real life and covered in the news stories that result.
In this case, don't yell at me -- yell at Andrew Sullivan. It is clear to me (at least) that he has spotted a religion ghost -- ethical ghost? moral ghost? -- in a New York Times piece about abortion.
Or is it about abortion? That's the point. Here is the item on Sullivan's Time blog:
The Culling Continues 09 Jan 2007 11:57 am
Today's NYT piece on doctors' urging more comprehensive testing for Down Syndrome fetuses omits one obvious fact: the reason for such testing. Which is to kill them in utero, of course. Why leave this out? Isn't it the crux of the story? And no mention of the 90 percent figure for abortions after DS detection. Do the NYT's editors believe readers cannot handle the truth?
This follows another Sullivan post on the same topic and, ultimately, for this voice on the gay-activist side of the Catholic church aisle, leads to another topic looming in the background -- the possible abortion of unborn gay children at some point in the medical future. Sullivan recently aired his views on that topic in one of his essays for The Times of London.
Does this sound like a far-fetched idea to you?
I've been asking questions about this possible link between the two hottest of hot social issues since the mid-1980s, when I raised it during a press conference in Denver with then-Democratic Rep. Patricia Schroeder. I asked her if, in the future, she expected to see scientific evidence that people are born gay. She said that she did. I then asked if she thought this implied there would be a gay gene that, sooner or later, would show up in prenatal testing. She said she assumed that this would happen. So I asked her if she would, at that time, oppose the abortion of gay fetuses. She did not want to answer that question and one of her staff rushed over to say that they would have to deal with that when the time came.
Sullivan thinks that issue is coming sooner or later (while I think the nature-nurture debate will be much harder to settle) and that we can see evidence of the outcome in the Down Syndrome trends. If he is right, that is a huge story and one that, when the story breaks, will be debated in strongly religious terms. Sullivan and the pope will be on the same side of that debate, correct?