Richard Dawkins’ brand of strident rationalism has won him many fans, but it can also lead to the occasional tone deaf comment on Twitter, with the academic’s latest offering a staunch defence of abortion if a fetus is diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
When questioned if the same held true for a fetus with autism, Dawkins said people with autism can "contribute" and even offer "enhanced ability", however people with DS are "not enhanced".
@InYourFaceNYer People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
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.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
There's a profound moral difference between "This fetus should now be aborted" and "This person should have been aborted years ago."— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
Naturally with an issue as emotive as abortion, reaction was mixed with some welcoming the debate around such a taboo subject, while others suggested the professor should talk to parents of children with DS.
@RichardDawkins the fuck is this eugenics bullshit? You really do get worse and worse don't you. Oh btw, your a dick.— Rosa (@marxroadrunner) August 20, 2014
Jesus Christ, dude @RichardDawkins— Lee Weston Sabo (@LeeWSabo) August 20, 2014
.@RichardDawkins I have a cousin with Down Syndrome who is one of the most lovable and life-loving kids I know. Your tweet sickens me.— Ashley Ciandella ن (@AshleyCiandella) August 20, 2014
In 2013, the eminent biologist caused a Twitter backlash when he highlighted the fact that the world's Muslims have won fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge.