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Prenatal Testing, Down Syndrome, and Selective Termination: A (Critical) Criminology of Genocide?

Ryan Thorneycroft (Western Sydney University, AUS)

Diversity in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies

ISBN: 978-1-80117-002-4, eISBN: 978-1-80117-001-7

Publication date: 12 May 2022

Abstract

PurposeThis chapter examines the relationship between prenatal testing, Down syndrome identification, and selective termination practices, and it does so by considering whether the selective termination of fetuses with Down syndrome might constitute genocidal practices.

Methodology/approachExploratory and speculative in nature, this chapter brings the phenomenon of prenatal testing and selective termination practices together, and explores whether the increasingly widespread termination of fetuses with Down syndrome fits within definitions of genocide.

FindingsAddressing perceptions of Down syndrome and disability, and integrating aspects of crip politics and definitions of genocide, this chapter concludes that the phenomenon of selective termination involving fetuses with Down syndrome can constitute genocide when particular definitions and interpretations are adopted.

Originality/valueThis chapter is perhaps the first academic text to critically evaluate the relationship between prenatal testing, selective termination of fetuses with Down syndrome, and criminological genocide scholarship. Importantly, it does not evaluate individual decision-making practices regarding termination, but instead focuses on collective practices and conditions that work to minimize the number of people with Down syndrome in society.

Keywords

Citation

Thorneycroft, R. (2022), "Prenatal Testing, Down Syndrome, and Selective Termination: A (Critical) Criminology of Genocide?", Silva, D.M.D. and Deflem, M. (Ed.) Diversity in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 27), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 167-181. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1521-613620220000027011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Ryan Thorneycroft