While the initial report of the fatwa appeared on a Facebook group called “The Mosul Eye,” it has been picked up by a number of news outlets, giving credibility to the fatwa actually having been issued.
Now, why is this wrong?
Perhaps even asking the question will take some readers aback.
For some, it will be simply: well ISIS is bad, ergo whatever they do is bad. (Feel free to read that in the voice of Mr. Mackey).
For others, it will be that it is wrong to single out the disabled to be killed, because that’s bigoted, prejudiced, and indicts a culture if the true test of civilization is how the most needy are treated–in the culture of ISIS, they are to be killed, apparently.
This argument is strengthened when you consider that the reported fatwa is being carried out by lethal injection or suffocation. In case the italics weren’t enough, let that sink in: suffocating children with Down syndrome.
For others, generally it will be: killing children is bad, so killing children with Down syndrome is bad.
And, almost immediately, the fatwa was ruled bad by some because it hearkened back to Akton T4, the Nazi’s beta-test of the Holocaust in which doctors killed children with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome (and, as I learned in my most recent visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, some doctors kept killing children with disabilities even after Germany had surrendered).
So, the fatwa is bad because ISIS is bad, discriminating against the disabled is bad, killing children is bad, and the Nazi’s did it?
Not that long ago, the Journal of Medical Ethics (I know I’m repeating myself for emphasis, but let me emphasize this was argued for in the Journal of Medical Ethics) had as its lead article academics who were arguing in favor of “after birth abortion,” citing the high termination rate for Down syndrome to support their argument.
So, was that bad because they argued it was ethically acceptable to kill children if the parents didn’t want them? Or, was that less bad because they were academics and didn’t issue a religious edict like a fatwa or anything; they just wrote about it as the lead article in a scholarly journal on ethics. Does that make “after birth abortion” less bad than ISIS’s fatwa to kill children with disabilities?
Or, let’s move the timeline to prior to being born.
In 2014, Richard Dawkins tweeted that it was immoral to give birth to a child with Down syndrome if you had a prenatal diagnosis. Was that bad for discriminating against Down syndrome? Or was that not bad because its Richard Dawkins, a noted scientist, and he wasn’t calling for killing children, but instead aborting fetuses with Down syndrome?
And, if killing children because the children have Down syndrome is bad because it’s bigoted and discriminatory, and if pronouncing it is immoral to choose to give birth to a child with Down syndrome because, again, it’s bigoted and discriminatory, and it disrespected a parent’s right to choose, then …
Is it bad that cell free DNA screening companies conduct studies and have their CEO present at national medical conferences on how their tests can save society money because it can identify pregnancies carrying a child with Down syndrome and allow them to be aborted?
Is that bad because it’s discriminatory and disrespects a parent’s right to choose?
Or, is that just simply sound public health, cost-effectiveness, the allocation of the scarce health resources analysis that just makes sense and why public programs like California’s prenatal screening program and more and more state Medicaid programs, and private insurers have determined that cfDNA screening is “medically necessary”?
Because ISIS would tell you, hey, this is just cold reality: we don’t have the resources needed to devote to caring for these more-needy children.
If anything, it’s compassionate.
It spares them a life of burden and it frees up those scarce resources to make things better for the rest of us.
Or is that bad?