Athmeya Jayaram


The “expressivist objection” argues that prenatal screening leading to termination of embryos or fetuses with disabilities sends a harmful message to people with disabilities, such as the message that their lives are not worth living. I first argue that whether it sends such a message depends on how a reasonable person would see the motives behind the screening. I then argue that a reasonable person would see a harmful message, not when individuals terminate embryos, and not for severe disabilities, but when the state allows the screening and termination of embryos with less severe conditions, such as Down syndrome. This sends the message that it is permissible not to pay a higher cost to support people with disabilities, when there is an abled alternative. This attitude is harmful to the welfare, rights and self-worth of people with disabilities because it reinforces the refusal to provide them with equal opportunity. The state therefore has a strong pro tanto reason to ban prenatal screening for less severe disabilities.