Monday, February 25, 2008

Baldness gene identified: Should we screen and abort?

Gene discovery may lead to new baldness drugs

Researchers have identified a gene linked to hair loss that could lead to new drugs to treat baldness.

The gene is responsible for a rare hereditary form of hair loss known as Hypotrichosis simplex, a condition affecting 1 in 200,000 people, in which people begin going bald in childhood, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

Why is it that when they can spot a "bald gene", the talk is about developing a cure, but when they can spot Down syndrome, it's all a search-and-destroy mission?

Surely this premature hair loss is a social and psychological burden for those afflicted. "It's treatable," you may scoff. "Why, you can just wear a wig, if nothing else!"

Yeah, and cleft lip is treatable. It's still used as a justification for abortion. As is polydactyly (having extra fingers or toes). Anything that allows somebody to point at an unborn child and say, "Ew! This one is DIFFERENT!" is grounds for getting out the forceps. Why not a bald gene?

If doctors were pushing for prenatal screening so that the "condition" can be "caught early" and a "termination" scheduled, would we recognize the bigotry? If some university professor told his students that all mothers at risk of having a baby with the baldness gene should be tested as soon as possible, and the affected fetus promptly done away with, would we recognize the bigotry?

Is there any flaw too trivial to be worthy of a search-and-destroy mission to eliminate those who have it?

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Joy said...

This is ridiculous. Giving women the option to abort if their child may be bald one day (not even early in life, but later!)??? Seriously, the mediocrity we allow ourselves to put upon pregnant women. I totally see your point. OUR DIFFERENCES MAKE US UNIQUE!

Christina Dunigan said...

If having an extra finger or a cleft lip is valid grounds for a eugenic abortion, I imagine that there'd be parents wanting to screen for the baldness gene as well. There is no limit to how shallow some people can be. Only perfection is good enough.