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  1. ITV Report

Richard Dawkins says 'abort' foetus with Down's remark was 'misunderstood'

Professor Richard Dawkins apologised for the 'feeding frenzy' his Twitter comments caused. Credit: REUTERS/Chris Keane

Scientist Richard Dawkins has apologised for "letting slip the dogs of Twitterwar" after he implied it would be "immoral" to carry on with a pregnancy if the mother knew the foetus had Down's syndrome.

Professor Dawkins became embroiled in a row on the social networking site after he responded to a user who said they would face a "real ethical dilemma" if they became pregnant with a Down's syndrome child.

He wrote:

Prof Dawkins later defended his view, posting:

He has since provided a fuller explanation on his website, entitled Abortion and Down Syndrome: An Apology for Letting Slip the Dogs of Twitterwar, claiming his comments were "misunderstood."

My true intention was ... simply to say what I personally would do, based upon my own assessment of the pragmatics of the case, and my own moral philosophy which in turn is based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.

My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand.

– Professor Richard Dawkins

The professor also said that he had hoped that his million-plus Twitter followers would not see his comments, thinking it instead it would only be sent out to those who follow both the woman who made the initial comment and himself.