Richard Dawkins Says Unborn Babies With Down Syndrome Should Be Aborted; Pro-Life Group Slams 'Sick and Twisted' Comments

Well-known atheist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins speaks to supporters during the "Rock Beyond Belief" festival at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina, March 31, 2012. | (Photo: Reuters/Chris Keane)

Atheist author Richard Dawkins is under heavy criticism on social media after stating that unborn babies with Down syndrome need to be aborted and that parents should "try again" to conceive. Pro-life group Live Action has slammed the comments as "sick and twisted."

"Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice," Dawkins said Wednesday in response to a Twitter user wondering what she would do if pregnant with a child with Down syndrome.

The evolutionary biologist posted a series of further Tweets defending his argument, with another message reading: "If I were a woman with a DS fetus I personally would abort. So do most women in fact. If you wouldn't, good luck to you, it's your decision."

He then explained that he would not directly tell a woman such a thing, but was only offering what he would do in such a situation: "Woman said she wouldn't know whether to abort. I told her what I would do & why. I OBVIOUSLY wouldn't TELL a woman what to do. Up to her."

Live Action president Lisa Rose responded to Dawkins' comments by stating that "it's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities."

"Dawkins' ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome," Rose continued.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born. Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

The evolutionary biologist's comments were also criticized by fellow atheists, including David Harsanyi, senior editor of The Federalist website.

"A few years back Newsweek reported that 90 percent of women whose fetuses tested positive for Down syndrome choose an abortion. Only a small percentage of mothers even used the test back then. More do today. Soon many more will. It's not outlandish to believe parents will continue to terminate fetuses in large numbers. Once we have widespread eugenics, where will towering minds like Dawkins place limits? To those who can experience 'human feelings?'" Harsanyi questioned.

"Dawkins offers no scientific formula for when life is worth protecting that I can discern. Only that it's 'immoral' to bring 'it' into the world if 'it' doesn't confirm to his specifications," he added.

On Thursday, Dawkins posted an apology of sorts for stirring up a "a new feeding frenzy" on Twitter, clarifying that his initial reply to the user wondering what she would do if pregnant with a Down syndrome baby was meant to be private. He noted that he did not realize it would be sent out to his 1 million Twitter followers.

"That was my intention. However, it doesn't stop people who go out of their way to find such tweets, even if they don't automatically pop up on their Twitter feeds. Many did so, and the whole affair blew up into the feeding frenzy I mentioned," Dawkins explained, asserting that it takes a lot more than 140 characters to fully explain his views on the subject.

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