Dec 19, 2006

A good reason to be brought into the world?

Norway's approach to technology involving embryos is cautious and conservative. Norway bans in vitro fertilization for anyone except married heterosexual couples, for example. Now, after a debate involving a family that wanted a second child so they could get bone marrow to help a sick existing child, Norway has now decided to allow for genetic testing of in vitro fertilized eggs before implanting - out of the country. It won't be done here.

I have no particular opinion about the technology itself; my stance is one of a mix of admiration for the creativity and a bit of skepticism. Man will think of all kinds of things, good and bad, in the name of science or progress. What's making me write today, is a nagging feeling about the whole issue of having a new, healthy child, in order to harvest it for bone marrow to help a sick, older sibling. What does this sort of "rescue operation" say about loving all your children equally? Will the new child be loved for its own sake? What if its bone marrow can't be used after all? How do the efforts to save an older child justify performing painful procedures on a younger child who is brought into existence because of those procedures? Is this fair or loving to that new child?

I'm sure that parents who are in this situation will assure me that they will love their kids equally, no matter what, but I still have a nagging feeling that somewhere, on some level, that this reason for bringing a kid into the world is just wrong.


alice said...

Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. But I don't know if we can write rules that apply to all people -- situations, like people and their capacities for accomodating grey areas, vary widely. I'm glad Norway has shown some flexibility while she wrestles with the issues involved in this controversy.

Keera Ann Fox said...

We can never make a decision that will sit well with everyone. Knowing that, I usually don't wrap my brain around an issue unless I have a persona reason to, but for some reason, this hit me in the solar plexus.

Sal said...

There was a California family that did something similar to this in 1990 -- before genetic testing -- with only a one in four chance that the child born would be able to help the older sister. I remember much uproar at the time. (The article gives you some hint of it.)

And here's the story of where they are today

Who knows the reasons behind why people have children? It's a muddled mess to me.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Thanks for the links, Sal! You sent me looking for more opinions on the matter. One comment I found at BBC News goes like this:

Parents have children for many reasons, to save their marriage, for religious reasons, for company when they are old, for labour if they are farmers etc. Having a child to save another should not be an ethical issue as long as this child is not abused and is treated the same as the first one.

So nothing's really changed; we've just added technology as a way of having kids for both wrong and right reasons.