Richard Dawkins, arguably the most famous evolutionary biologist in the world right now, recently offered his perspective via Twitter on unborn babies that are diagnosed with Down syndrome. He responded to a question about what to do if an unborn child is determined to have the genetic disorder. "Abort and it and try again," Dawkins wrote. "It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice." The backlash has been considerable, even within Dawkins' usual cheering section.
Dawkins's witty atheism has profited him immensely and gained him a large–some might say cult-like–following. His particular brand of naturalism entails an aggressive hatred of religion and religious people. Often times his eviscerations of Christianity and other faiths centers on the supposed oppression of freedom, choice and reason that he claims religion, especially monotheism, must rely on to keep its followers. It's quite ironic then that Dawkins now finds himself occupying the seat of a moral judge, measuring the worth of people's lives and issuing decrees accordingly.
The pro-life/pro-choice debate in the US has often fallen along religious lines, yet if the reaction to Dawkins is indicative, it appears that secular thinkers are beginning to recoil at the thought of declaring certain life unnecessary or undesirable. Dawkins's beliefs are consistently naturalistic and utilitarian; if human life is only more evolved animal life, with no purpose or metaphysical significance, then we should value human life only to the degree that it is useful. That excludes many, including those born with genetic disorders such as Down syndrome. The traditional pro-choice rhetoric is strikingly similar to this thinking; if the unborn child is an encroachment on convenience or freedom, it should be killed. There is not as much of a gulf between the worldviews of Richard Dawkins and Planned Parenthood as you might think.
We pray and hope for the day in which the notion of abortion on demand will incur the disgust that has been directed at Richard Dawkins. Consistently valuing life at all stages and in all mental and physical capacities is the only position that befits a morally sane culture.