A few days ago Michael Gerson wrote a column describing Trig Palin as having "smashed the chromosomal barrier" by being proudly displayed by his mother at the Republican convention. Typical of Gerson, he offered a very superficial analysis of the issues and makes childish digs at the Democratic Party and attempts to advance a dishonest label ("eugenic abortion"), but it seemed mostly intended as a "feel good" piece - celebrating the erosion of the barriers between the mentally handicapped and the rest of society. What's a little "faith-based condescension" between friends, right?
No, Gerson has to take things a step further,
Dr. Andre Lalonde, the executive vice president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, is "expressing concerns" that a "prominent public role model as the governor of Alaska and potential vice president of the United States completing a Down syndrome pregnancy may prompt other other women to make the same decision against abortion because of that genetic abnormality. And thereby reduce the number of abortions." This, Lalonde feels, would be problematic, because of women who aren't "prepared to deal with the consequences" of a Down syndrome child.Reading Gerson's rant, it occurred to me at this point that Gerson knows nothing about Dr. Lalonde, save for a second-hand account of his views on this single issue.
Many parents, of course, are not "prepared to deal with the consequences" of having a child, healthy or disabled - though this has nothing to do with the worth of such children once they are conceived. Down syndrome children are slow to learn and have physical challenges. They are also, in my experience, often loving and compassionate - which is an advantage they have on Dr. Lalonde.
The original blog post Gerson found contained a (supposed) paraprhase of Lalonde's views,
He says not every woman is prepared to deal with the consequences of Down babies, who have developmental delays, some physical difficulties and often a shortened lifespan.Gerson misrepresents these words as having come out of Dr. Lalonde's mouth:
This, Lalonde feels, would be problematic, because of women who aren't "prepared to deal with the consequences" of a Down syndrome child.Worse, the author of that original blog post, Andrew Malcolm, didn't even get his facts straight. The post has been flushed down the memory hole, and replaced with a notice of error:
Doctor Lalonde's point of view should not have been portrayed as a concern that the number of abortions would decline but rather, as expressed in the Globe and Mail, that women would be influenced by Gov. Palin's decision to keep Down syndrome children that they were neither emotionally nor financially prepared to care for.A columnist more intelligent or less lazy than Gerson might have even checked the original article before transforming an erroneous, second-hand paraphrase into a quote.
Giving women balanced information about the potential consequences of either decision does not mean they are being encouraged to abort their pregnancies, Dr. Lalonde said.So yesterday we had Gerson lying about the statements of liberals, and using Christopher Hitchens, neither a liberal nor a Democrat, as his case in chief. Today we have Gerson fabricating a quote based upon another blogger's misinterpretation of a very simple article, to purport,
"We offer the woman the choice. We try to be as unbiased as possible," he said. "We're coming down to a moral decision and we all know moral decisions are personal decisions."
A claim like this one tears away the pretense of "choice" among some in the medical community.At least Christopher Hitchens exists.
It's not a lie, as such, for Gerson to draw a false conclusion based upon what appears to be his incompetence - he apparently doesn't know the difference between a quote and a paraphrase, and doesn't have even a slight understanding of why you should check the purported sources of a blogger's information, particularly when the blogger hands you a link. He had a knee-jerk reaction based upon his preconceptions, and didn't much care about the morality or ethics of what he was doing. But to attempt to tar any portion of the medical community based upon something one doctor didn't even say? If somebody that incompetent worked for me, he would be looking for a new job.