What would we lose if children with autistic spectrum disorder were eliminated from the population?".
"We should start debating this. There is a test for Down's syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism is often linked with talent.
"It is a different kind of condition."
Attributed to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University, UK in today's major Melbourne newspaper, The Age in a report about prenatal screening for autism. The report was originally published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, yesterday - The Age's report has been edited down from the UK report, but the context of this quote, and its content, does not appear to have been altered.
Let's hope Prof Baron-Cohen's flak-jacket is in good condition - let's debate the merits and dimensions of prenatal testing by all means, but this is simply offensive (and arrogant?).
We have emailed Professor Baron-Cohen to alert him to the quote, to confirm its authenticity and to alert him to the offence it will cause.
Edit 13/01/2009) 11.05 am: And he has replied promptly:
"This was not what I actually said ..... I am sorry the way it was reported was offensive. I am personally against termination".