Here’s a ponderable for you:
Recently the idea of cloning a Neanderthal has been floating around the human noggin-o-sphere, due to a geneticist saying that such a thing may be possible fairly soon. But the bioethicist who wrote the linked piece thinks that’s a terrible idea, for several reasons. But consider this one:
Risking a deformed or dead fetus simply created only for reasons of human curiosity is not a sufficient reason to take the chance, now or ever.
Now consider: if you were the geneticist working on cloning a Neanderthal, at every stage in the process you’d have the lil’ dickens under careful 24/7 scrutiny. If during gestation you found out it was a horribly deformed mess, the logical thing to do would be to abort it, learn from your mistakes and try again. But the bioethicist is here declaring that that would be unethical. But… why would it be unethical to destroy a mutant experimental embryo, but not any of the hundreds of thousands that are aborted annually in the US? Without getting into an abortion debate, this just seems to be a basic contradiction.
The hypothetical Neander-enbryo would be created for “human curiosity,” which to my mind is *not* a bad thing. What could be learned even from a failed attempt would advance mankind infinitely more than a standard embryo aborted because it simply wasn’t wanted.
If it would be wrong to abort this one, why would it be ok to abort a million? If it’s ok to abort a million, why would it be wrong to abort this one? Or a dozen like it in the process?
The second issue raised by the bioethicist is “what if it’s not able to handle our bacteria and virii?” The third is “what if it’s violently aggressive?” Well, do these not apply to *every* baby? If a link between genetics and criminal tendency, say, is found, should not babies with that particular genetic mix be prevented? How about embryos that are shown early on to be genetically predisposed to illness? Or the parents are genetically so disposed, and likely to pass that on to the next generation?
The ethicist finishes off with the rather remarkable complaint that the Neander-baby would be created out of curiosity, not love. Ummm… honestly, how many babies are born annually out of something other than love? How many babies enter the world to a family – which may well only be the mother, or not even that – that does not love them?
Finally: how does one get to be a professional bioethicist? Seems like an easy gig.
A vaguely similar ponderable. From my experience, if a person holds one of the following views, the chances are good they hold all:
A: Abortion should not be hindered… if the mother wants it, she gets it
B: Sexual orientation is something you are born with (thus most likely genetic in basis), and all orientations are valid and should be cherished and blah, blah, blah.
C: Medical care, including screenings, should be readily (very likely: freely) available to all, especially pregnant women.
OK. Assume all are true. So, here’s the ponderable hypothetical situation:
A pregnant woman goes to her local Free Clinic for a thorough exam. A genetic test of Lil’ Dickens reveals that there is a 95% chance that the baby will grow up to be gay. Mom takes this info to heart and promptly wanders over to the Abort-O-Suck clinic and has Lil’ Dickens removed because she doesn’t want a gay kid. Are the people who are big fans of A, B and C going to be quite so supportive of this? If sexuality *is* genetic and can be tested for, and certain orientations are aborted at a higher rate than others specifically because of the orientation… is there going to be a sudden spike in interest in maybe clamping down on abortion? Could a sudden decline in the birth rate of gay kids lead to an Endangered Orientation Act? On the other hand, if sexual orientation is proven to be a gene, not a choice… are certain religious organizations and the like that today stand squarely against abortion going to soften their stance?