UK & World News

  • 21 August 2014, 11:15

Richard Dawkins Sparks Down's Syndrome Row

Richard Dawkins has sparked an angry response on Twitter after he claimed it would be "immoral" to continue a pregnancy if the mother knew the foetus had Down's Syndrome.

The British scientist made the comment in reply to a user who said they would face a "real ethical dilemma" if they conceived a baby with the syndrome.

Professor Dawkins tweeted: "Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

His tweet sparked a strong reaction, including from one mother who has a child with the condition, who wrote: "I would fight til my last breath for the life of my son. No dilemma."

The God Delusion author later defended his comment and refused to apologise.

Professor Dawkins wrote: "In point of fact, a majority of Down Syndrome fetuses in Europe and USA are aborted. What I recommended is not outlandish but the norm.

"I do not for one moment apologise for approaching moral philosophic questions in a logical way. There's a place for emotion and this isn't it."

In a statement, the Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) said: "People with Down's Syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.

"At the Down's Syndrome Association, we do not believe Down's Syndrome in itself should be a reason for termination, however, we realise that families must make their own choice.

"The DSA strives to ensure that all prospective parents are given accurate and up-to-date information about the condition and what life might be like today for someone with Down's Syndrome."

Richard Dawkins has provoked anger on Twitter before, when he said the world's Muslims had won fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College Cambridge.

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