Why We Kill Disabled Kids: For the Same Reason Cain Killed Abel

By John Zmirak Published on June 9, 2017

Like many non-fiction writers, I’m a frustrated novelist. I’ve written a total of three. Each one stinks up a very old box in storage. But why? I’ve had to admit that characters don’t interest me very much except as hand puppets for arguing over what really grabs me: abstract ideas. A master of psychology like Dostoevsky could afford to work philosophical arguments into his stories. When I try it, the outcome reads, as one writing teacher told me, “like Maoist propaganda.” He was a leftist, but I don’t think he meant that as a compliment.

The Science Fiction Novel I’ll Never Write

But if I could write convincing characters, there’s one story I’d like to tell. What if we came across a group of humans who’d never endured the Fall? Or let’s go sci-fi: What if some scientist took DNA from the Shroud of Turin and cloned some? Sin passes through the blood, as St. Paul tells us. And Jesus’ blood didn’t have any. So right there you’ve got a sci-fi basis for how this could happen. Imagine some unhinged biologist in Italy opened up his lab and revealed that he’d created a thousand biological copies of Jesus Christ. (They’re purely human. No scientist can reenact the Incarnation.) Even better, this doctor did some tinkering and made a thousand females whom they could marry.

What would such people be like? That’s what I’d find interesting to picture. We’d get to meet Adam and Eve again, before the Fall. We’d be able to see mankind as God intended him originally — not hag-ridden by temptation. Not cut off from God by an infinite gap that only divine Grace could possibly bridge, at the cost of the Cross. No, man as he was meant to be. Doing what he was meant to do, as easily as dogs do. No struggle against the constant pull of a tainted will and darkened intellect. Virtue coming naturally. Kindness welling up easily. Good sportsmanship all round.

We’d get to meet Adam and Eve again, before the Fall.

Catholics believe that Mary, too, was spared Original Sin (through the grace of Christ, which vaccinated her at conception. Don’t ask, I don’t want to argue about it, and I promise not to read any comments contesting it). So we RCs can look at the Gospel accounts of her actions for hints of this. But there isn’t that much there, really. Just a few lovely, tantalizing anecdotes. So even Catholics should find this question interesting. In fact we do; large swathes of our traditional theology are devoted to distinguishing firmly between what belongs to Grace, and what to created nature.

What Would Unfilled People Really Be Like?

That would be the fun part of the book: Laying out in fine detail just what people are like when they’re just what God meant us to be. Not the patched-up, battered creatures that even Christians redeemed by Grace still are throughout this life: full of scars from our sins, old nagging temptations, gross imperfections and regrets. Not what we’ll become at the Resurrection, when even our wounds will be transfigured, and every fall will seem to us happy. No, the simple, plain creatures that Milton tried to envision in Paradise Lost. That Lewis imagined on Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet. You have to admit that this is an exciting challenge for a gifted novelist. (Too bad I’m not one.)

Then the book would turn very sad, very quickly. Because it’s obvious what the rest of us would do to these unfallen creatures as soon as we got bored of studying them.

Why We Target the Innocent

We would kill them. All of them. Quickly. Not even a breeding pair would survive in captivity, anywhere on earth. They would disappear like the Dodos, flightless birds that had known no predators till the white man landed, found them and ate them. Every last one.

How do I know this? There’s a long, long list of incidents that point to this melancholy conclusion: Sinful man envies innocence (even relative innocence), and because he cannot attain it, he often decides to destroy it. That’s why Cain killed Abel. Why Joseph’s brothers attacked him. Why the Egyptians targeted the Hebrews. It’s why the mighty Roman Empire over and over again wielded its legions against little Judea. It’s why so many in Jesus’ time and place agreed that He needed to die. It’s why the most helpless minorities, like Jews and Gypsies and the handicapped, attracted Hitler’s most savage hatred.

The great Christian thinker Rene Girard developed a philosophy of history based on this insight. He said that “scapegoating” the innocent lies at the heart of fallen human civilization: that every city is built with the lime of human blood. It was only the coming of Jesus that unmasked and began to unmake this.

But I don’t need elaborate theories or historical lists of victim groups to prove my point. To know that this book would be too sad to write, even had I the talent.

Hunting Down the Handicapped

We only need look at the fate of Down’s Syndrome children today. It’s not enough that unborn children per se are as innocent as it is possible to be, after the Fall. We destroy one in three of those. In our rights-obsessed, virtue-signaling West that will turn reality upside down lest some drag queen be banned from the restroom of his choice … more than 90 percent of children detected with this disorder are killed in the womb. 

Parents report that Downs Syndrome kids are usually happy, loving, guileless and kind. And Satan hates that more than anything on this earth.

Even when allowed to live, few of these will ever reach the mental age where they can commit a serious sin. Parents report that Downs Syndrome kids are usually happy, loving, guileless and kind.

And Satan hates that more than anything on this earth. He hates it as he hated Adam and Eve. So he goads us, their luckless descendants, to feel that very same hatred. He casts it as fear. Of the inconvenience, the burden. He dresses it up as “compassion.” We are too kind, too generous to let such hapless creatures draw a breath, or walk the earth. It’s for their “own good” we tell ourselves. But we know better.

We bury that knowledge. Whole countries like France censor videos depicting how happy, how good, how innocent and lovable these hunted children can be. If only someone would love them, would offer them the care and protection that we pretend we offer the innocent and the helpless. We good, good tolerant humanitarian people, who don’t need the blood of Christ to wash us clean. No, we don’t need that, and we don’t need those kids to remind us how tainted we really are. And so we kill them.

So that’s why I won’t write that novel. I couldn’t bear it.

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  • Mike Faulk

    Refer to the “I Am Margaret” series. It is written by Catholic author Corinna Turner. She nailed this topic.

  • Thomas

    “When I try it, the outcome reads, as one writing teacher told me, “like Maoist propaganda.””
    Literally LOL.

    “What would such people be like? That’s what I’d find interesting to picture. We’d get to meet Adam and Eve again, before the Fall.”

    I was very surprised that the author mentions Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, but failed to mention that Perelandra, the second book in that space trilogy, is quite pertinent to Adam-and-Eve-before-the-fall stories. (That said, since the story largely addresses the temptation to fall, much of it does travel in debates and abstract ideas. Normally fiction by Lewis is much better at weaving ideas into context, but this particular context is expressly one of battling ideas.)

    “What if some scientist took DNA from the Shroud of Turin and cloned some? Sin passes through the blood, as St. Paul tells us.”

    Where does Paul clearly say what is being implied by that statement, namely that the physical body — particularly the blood — is defective in a way that is sinful?

    The writer of Hebrews declares that “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same … Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things…” See Hebrews 2:14-18

    The point of the message is that it was necessary that Jesus was like us physically “in flesh and blood” in every way and though also tempted like us was yet without sin (cf. Heb. 4:15).

    The difference was not physical. If it had been, it could be physically possible for humans to defeat that problem through genetic engineering. The original problem was not physical, but spiritual. Jesus came with an unbroken relationship with the Father and the Spirit. We enter this world spiritually disconnected from God and therefore each with our own self (not God) as our primary love and concern.

    • Zmirak

      I used the first novel in the Space Trilogy, not Perelandra, because in the first Lewis depicts whole GROUPS of unfallen people, not just one. That was closer to what I had in mind.

      • Thomas

        Good point. That makes sense.

        If you happen to locate that St. Paul passage about sin passing through the blood (i.e. as a physical bodily corruption such as might be located in the DNA), that would be worth documenting.

        I did just check every reference Paul made to “blood” and I couldn’t find anything that looked like what you described. Were you thinking perhaps of some non-Pauline passage about blood?

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Right. Songwriter/storyteller Michael Kelly Blanchard’s “Danny’s Downs But Love is Up” a hymn to a family’s discovery of grace & love in the aftermath of their Down’s Syndrome babies arrival is worth a hearing . It beautifully describes the “blessing” found in spite of the disappointment understandably experienced initially by most who face such challenges. Sure, I won’t pretend that I would want my daughter to marry a young man w/Down’s Syndrome . That would be a much harder subject to tackle than that which Sidney Portier’s character forced his finance’s parents to deal with in that groundbreaking ’60’s cinematic social commentary. Though perhaps it would be even more troubling were she to bring home a SJW pro choice democrat . At least the Downs Syndrome young man is teachable …

  • If woman became pregnant, and routine genetic testing determined that the baby was going to be born with Down’s syndrome, I would respect and admire her if she decided to carry that pregnancy to term, and take on the challenges of raising the child. But I would never force her to do so.

    • StarWarsEUIsCanon

      We have to speak for those with no voice. Murder is never the answer.

    • GPS Daddy

      So because we know the child has a problem then the child is worth less?

      • Kathy Weill Lee

        As I said who are we to decide to end the life of a child of God

        • GPS Daddy

          Hmm, I thought I responded to Chuck…

    • Jennifer Hartline

      Chuck, guess what? Every child comes with challenges. And with gifts. What other “less desirable” traits shall we weed out via genetic testing? Who is it okay to kill, and who is it not okay to kill? Who gets to live, and who decides?

      • Jennifer, what YOU have decided is that any woman who becomes pregnant has NO choice but to carry that pregnancy to term, her right to self-determination notwithstanding. We could haggle forever over “less desirable” traits, whether it is Down’s syndrome or congenital syphilis or Zika-related microcephaly. If that woman wants to accept that challenge, fine. But neither you nor I should force her to.

        • Jennifer Hartline

          In your zeal not to “force” a woman to “carry that pregnancy to term” you have decided that it’s okay to kill the child in the womb. You ignore the other person involved here. You make it sound very noble, all this concern for women’s “self-determination” but really, it’s not different than the reasoning behind slavery. Slaves weren’t considered persons; barely human at all, and not worthy of any rights or consideration at all compared to everyone else.
          The bottom line is this: the child in the womb is a human person who has the same right to life as you and I.

    • Micha_Elyi

      Until your physician can explain how “routine genetic testing” or amniocentesis of a child in the womb can be of use for preserving or restoring the child’s health prior to birth, then resist the temptation to indulge in such “routine genetic testing”. If the physician’s only answer is “in case you want to do something about it” then your must strongly suspect that your physician’s hints regarding “do something about it” actually means “abort your baby”.

      Yes, OB/GYNs who practice at supposedly Catholic hospitals do urge such useless testing on their pregnant patients. Avoid the near occasion of sin. Avoid such “routine genetic testing” or amnios.

    • Zmirak

      Let’s say she was sleeping around, and got tested to find out if her baby belonged to the one black guy she’d slept with. And she found it had. Still okay with her deciding to abort it for that reason?

  • Delphini

    This whole article really misses the actual reasons why people think life isn’t worth living with Down syndrome. Parents are given a prenatal diagnosis after a lifetime of hearing contempt aimed at the idea of anyone being “retarded.” Then to further their horror, they are told of medical problems and the higher rate of early-onset dementia and death. The desire for abortion typically has nothing to do with “innocence” and everything to do with fear of a life with disabilities and medical problems without adequate support. Silly claims about innocence are not going to help expectant parents, but information on treatment, funding for research, and hope for a good life might.

    I want to add that I have worked with both children and adults with Down syndrome and they are not simply “innocent” like Zmirak claims. Sure, there’s a grain of truth to the innocent disabled person stereotype, but they are also gloriously human and very relatable. I certainly have never felt “tainted” due to being around them (the whole “tainted” thing in this article is an incredibly silly claim). In fact, the word “stubborn” tends to come up the most when discussing behavior problems in people with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome do in fact throw tantrums and hit, but they can absolutely learn to do better. Young adults with Down syndrome sometimes struggle to understand what’s appropriate (I personally know parents who had to explain why public masturbation is not okay), but they also learn, develop and often enjoy relationships and sexuality. We need to show that they have full, good lives and are not in some nightmarish parade of horribles.

    The silly claims about innocence further break down when Zmirak mentions attacks on Roma “gypsies.” Roma have long been reported to have a very high crime rate, so I seriously doubt that the Nazis killed them due to any perceived “innocence.” (I hope it goes without saying that a higher crime rate in a group NEVER justifies murder).

    • Zmirak

      An amazingly unperceptive comment. The writer seems to buy into the very narrative which this article was meant to expose as of diabolical origin. So let me explain again: WHY has the culture suddenly decided to present the rearing of disabled children as a horrible burden, utterly futile since the children are doomed to suffer? Why censor evidence to the contrary, to the point of OUTLAWING it? That’s not some spontaneous, understandable anxiety on the part of parents. It’s part of a programmatic narrative supported by the culture, and disseminated in part via doctors. Why does Kathy Griffin feel need to mock Sarah Palin’s disabled child? Was Griffin overcome with anxiety? No. This comes from a hatred of innocence, and that comes from the Enemy. I was quite precise in saying that mentally disabled children were unlikely to commit SERIOUS sins. In Catholic terms, we would say “mortal” sins. I did not imply that they were free of original sin, or moral ciphers, or anything else. As to the Roma, they like the Jews were treated as a grave threat to the “purity” of Germany, far out of proportion to any petty crimes to which they were supposedly prone.

      • Delphini

        Those are good points, but there is a very long history of abuse and discrimination against disabled people, especially intellectually disabled people. The unethical research and abuse at the Willowbrook State institution is just one example of how disabled people were viewed as something icky to be kept out of sight. In one news story about Willowbrook, a family reported that they were never even told that they had a disabled brother who was locked up, presumably because having disability in the family was viewed as shameful. I don’t think this is a sudden thing at all. Plus, in some ways, disability rights and general acceptance of disabled people have improved, though there are certainly other problems and areas of huge concern. I do think the whole abortion issue is a big and very sad reason for some of the cruelty. I recall meeting a woman was very positive about people with disabilities but she suddenly changed when pro-lifers were mentioned and started complaining about “overly happy” depictions of disability. It was almost like a there was a need to do the opposite of whatever the perceived “enemy” was doing. The censorship in France is absolutely despicable and is certainly related to the obsession with abortion.

        • Zmirak

          My emblem of conservatism is a sad-looking person in a wheelchair, looking at a curb without a ramp. Of liberalism: A beautiful, $50,000 wheelchair lift: and an empty wheelchair. Liberals pile up rights for the disabled, then realize it’s too costly so they kill them.

  • Kathy Weill Lee

    God is a loving God
    & to know they are children of God, how can we decide to end their life ??I was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, surgery at 10 now 69
    Talk about parents that felt hopeless, thank God my parents decided to trust our Lord

  • azsxdcfv12

    “So that’s why I won’t write that novel. I couldn’t bear it.”… me neither. Thank you. Your article runs very deep.

    • Micha_Elyi

      However, a novel about the man who attempted to write such a novel and the obstacles he faced might make an interesting novel.

      • wloch3

        We read a précis of just such a book.

  • obamasux

    Absolutely profound and moving! My wife and I faced this decision. We are both pediatric doctors. “Abnormal” ultrasound. The Deceiver whispers in your ear “get rid of it – it will be such a burden – think of all the disabled children you treat, etc., etc.” Neither of us listened to the Deceiver. Ten years later, our little boy is still thriving. For all our professional head-learning, we were totally blind-sided by the overwhelming, almost unbearable JOY and LOVE this boy brings into our lives every day. He may never walk or talk, but I would not trade one of his hugs or smiles for a million bucks. This is just one of the monstrous and tragic byproducts of aborting the disabled. Those who make this horrific mistake have no idea of the happiness they are missing.

    • Zmirak

      Thanks for sharing that, and thanks for choosing life. Though it sounds like you have been rewarded!

  • retiredconservative

    Read BILLY BUDD. Melville contemplated this in the 19th Century. He came to the same conclusions you did.

    And his novels are filled with philosophy and abstractions, but they are so well told, once I start one, I can’t put it down.

    And BILLY BUDD is my favorite of Melville’s work.

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