Dutch bureaucrat to man with Down's syndrome: Do you know how much you're costing the state?

This is making the rounds on Twitter today, to the horror of many a conservative.

Understandable. If you have even a cursory grasp of 20th-century history, you can’t watch a European running the numbers on what sort of financial burden the disabled impose on the fatherland without getting nervous. Stumbling across the clip on social media, shorn of context, you’d be well within your rights to feel creeped out.

But context is important.


Indeed. I can’t find an in-depth review of the show but that snippet plus the fact that the two hosts were themselves disabled makes it highly unlikely that the program was pro-eugenics. A Twitter pal based in Europe provides more context:

If that’s true then the math problem here was probably an early scene in the show, essentially conceding a point made by opponents before proceeding to argue against it. Fair enough, the disabled do cost more in social services than the average person does, but not an outlandish amount. And now here’s three dozen reasons why eugenics is still a bad idea.

It’s coming, though. Hopefully not the post-natal variety of Germany circa 1940 — although, Europe being Europe, you never can tell — but certainly pre-natal as genetic testing becomes more widely available. It’s already happening, in fact. CBS ran a story a few months ago about the astronomical abortion rate in Iceland by mothers whose children are diagnosed with Down’s in the womb. It approaches 100 percent there, 98 percent in Denmark, 77 percent in France, and 67 percent in the United States. There’s no reason to expect it won’t climb everywhere as pre-natal screening grows in ubiquity. The only thing restraining the trend in the first-world right now, I suspect, is the fact that some women continue to be strong religious believers committed to a pro-life ethic. As belief in the west fades, that ethic will fade too, probably not to the extent that “undesirables” are being rounded up and sent off to destinations unknown but surely enough to make aborting babies with Down’s a tragic fact of everyday life.