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Monday, 12 August 2013

Little Known Regrets II

   This second story about regret is not an isolated one.  Scientific advances that one researcher intends for good can be taken by someone else and used for evil.  I am reminded also of Albert Einstein's dismay that his breakthroughs in the area of physics led to the devastation of atomic bombs.

   I recently learned about the French geneticist named Jerome Lejeune, who discovered in 1959 that an extra 21st chromosome is what causes the condition of Down’s Syndrome.  He received awards and much fame after his finding. 
   However, he quickly discovered that his research was being used to do genetic testing on pregnant women.  As a result, those showing the trisomy-21 condition were being recommended for abortion.  A 10 year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome he knew from his practice was also aware of this trend and felt a strong solidarity with the plight of these pre-born babies.  He pleaded with Lejeune to “save us because we are too weak.”
   Even though it cost him all the prestige and credibility among his professional peers, this kind-hearted and devoutly Catholic man began to speak up for these children, pointing not only to the immorality of abortion but also to the potential that these children have despite their disability.  Lejeune campaigned internationally for the sanctity of life during the remaining 35 years of his life.  
  “They brandish chromosomal racism like the flag of freedom,” he once wrote. “That this rejection of medicine—of the whole biological brotherhood that binds the human family—should be the only practical application of our knowledge is beyond heartbreaking.”[1] 

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