Part of the media coverage on the Watson episode has included bringing up past statements of his as evidence of some putatively larger pattern of despicable speech. I'm intrigued by the very first example that CNN's stories keep using:
In 1997, Britain's Sunday Telegraph quoted Watson as saying that if a gene for homosexuality were isolated, women who find that their unborn child has the gene should be allowed to have an abortion.Obviously, I believe that women should not choose to abort a fetus because of some indication that the child was otherwise going to grow up to be gay. But, I thought the whole point of bumper stickers like "Keep Your Laws Off Of My Body" and "If You Don't Like Abortion Don't Have One," is that my belief about what a woman should choose, at least in the first trimester, is irrelevant for whether a woman should be allowed to choose for herself whether to have an abortion or not. It's not exactly the same to say that women should have the right to choose, except for a couple of reasons that we have decided are morally abhorrent, in which case she should be compelled to carry the child.
How exactly would we enforce that, anyway? I take it as obviously infeasible to give women information but prevent them from acting upon it, yet still allow them otherwise to choose to abort their fetus for unspecified other reasons. "It's not because he has the gay gene, honest! I just changed my mind, is all." So presumably what would need to be done is to outlaw the screening test, at least until whatever gestational point women no longer have an unrestricted right to an abortion. Even if the screening test was relatively straightforward and involved genetic information really only relevant to sexual orientation, I'm unsure how I would feel about saying the mother has no right to this information, but given the multiple effects of genetics and how whatever genetic information implication in sexual orientation might also be relevant for other traits, it seems even more suspect to me to endorse withholding this information.
Incidentally, I don't actually think there would be much of a market for aborting fetuses because they have some elevated risk of being gay, or even if there was some combination of genes that for sure would lead a child to be gay (note that the possiblility that genetic configuration X results in a gay adult is not equivalent to saying all gay adults have genetic configuration X). Abortion based on the sex of the child, meanwhile, may be a different matter.
* The idea that academic freedom does not extend to retaining leadership posts is the only way I can feel comfortable with what happened to Larry Summers at Harvard.