Academic Says Canadian Prenatal-Screening Practice a Reflection of “Nazi-Style Eugenics”

EDMONTON, March 18, 2004 ( - Screening babies within the womb in order to abort those with disabilities hearkens back to “Nazi-style eugenics”. Tanis Doe, professor of social work at Victoria University, made the remarks to a group assembled at the University of Alberta.

  Doe said that pre-screening of pregnant women for genetic defects in their unborn children is a wide-spread practice in western nations. It is a widely-accepted idea that those children with defects should not be allowed to live—a reality borne out by statistics—89 percent of Down Syndrome babies in Canada, and 90 percent in the U.S. do not see the light of day.

  Doe, who is deaf and paraplegic, said that “Women are expected to—pressured to—abort pregnancies when foetal disability is diagnosed.” She stated that, in Canada, there is “minimal support available to raise children with disabilities. Eugenics was practised in the U.K., Canada and the United States before the rise of Hitler,” she asserted. “So what has happened since then is a continuation of the sterilization practices that we have only recently acknowledged.”

  Dick Sobsey, director of the University of Alberta’s developmental disability centre told the Globe and Mail that her statement, though contentious, is historical. Alberta actively sterilized the mentally handicapped between the years 1928 and 1972, a move that has cost the province $800 million in compensation.

  Sobsey said that the decision to abort a disabled child is no different from the decision to abort a child with an undesirable sex, although the latter is still considered by most Canadians as barbarous. “Genetic counselling of pregnant women emerged from the eugenics movement,” Sobesy said. “Before the Second World War there was a very robust eugenics movement in North America, in Alberta particularly. But the Nazis discredited the movement, so I think there was a move to a less direct form of eugenics.”

  Read The Interim editorial “Abortion is not a cure” at:

  Read the related reports:  “McGill Speaker Condemns New ‘Eugenics’”

  “America the Model for Nazi Eugenics? ‘Biological courts, forced sterilisation, detention for the socially inadequate,’ and euthanasia were among the pre-war ‘American eugenic accomplishments.’”

  Read the Globe and Mail account at:

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