Atheist Richard Dawkins ignited a firestorm when he recently tweeted that "it would be immoral" to willingly bring a baby with Down syndrome into the world — a statement that led to international debate and furor.
Dawkins said Thursday that he has been "bombarded" ever since with images of children with Down syndrome and with descriptions that showcase how much their families love and care for them.
He didn't dispute detractors' claims, admitting that he understands these sentiments. Dawkins also said that he, too, would love his child if she had Down syndrome.
Headliner Richard Dawkins, founder of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, speaks during the National Atheist Organization's 'Reason Rally' on March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Getty Images North America)
"I have not the slightest doubt that, if I had a Down’s child, I would love her dearly," he said in the comments section of his website. "If I believed in God I’d probably thank God she wasn’t aborted, and I would sincerely mean it and deeply feel it."
Dawkins noted, though, that these thoughts and admissions are entirely compatible with the notion that he would still favor abortion as the "right decision" if given an option.
"The child that you now love is a person. You have grown to adore her every smile, her every facial expression, everything that makes her the individual personality that she is," he said of a child with Down syndrome. "The bundle of cells she once was had no personality at the time when she might have been aborted. There was nothing to love there at that time."
Abortion, Dawkins argued, isn't "killing a loved child" that is capable of pain and suffering. Read his entire argument here.
Controversy first set off August 20 when Dawkins tweeted a link to a story about restrictive abortions laws in Ireland, writing, “Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area …You’d think the Roman Church would have lost all influence.”
While that was general enough, a Twitter user named Aidan McCour decided to challenge Dawkins’ abortion contention.
“994 human beings with Down’s Syndrome deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012. Is that civilised?,” McCour tweeted to the famed atheist activist.
And that’s when Dawkins sparked outrage with his response claiming that these abortions are, indeed, “civilized.” He wrote, “Yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings.”
@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 another Twitter user weighed in saying that she wasn’t sure what she’d do if her fetus had Down syndrome and called such a scenario a “real ethical dilemma,” Dawkins offered up his proposed solution: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
Read more about the Dawkins controversy here.