I know, I know. I’ve been less than inspired lately, weighted down with the cares of the world. Yearning to breathe free, and all that. Ho-hum, hee-haw. Pass the chianti.
So of course the solution is to read CNN. Because if your morning cuppa doesn’t get you fired up, there’s always global catastrophe to inspire. And depress.
Wading through the stories about the Korean woman failing her driver’s test 700 times and the 10-year-old receiving porn on his birthday cell phone, I came upon this opinion piece by a bioethics doctor, regarding the recent controversial octuplet birth in California.
And yes, it’s taken me this long to come up with some cogent thoughts on the subject. :} (that’s an embarrassed smile).
The position of this madsmartscientist is that fertility doctors are going to have to start thinking about the potential quality of life of IVF babies, making judgments about said quality based on their perceptions of the couple, and possibly denying IVF treatment to parents when the risks outweigh the benefits. You know, if the CON side of the sheet ends up longer than the PRO.
On the surface, this sounds kind, empathetic- MDs thinking long and hard about bringing life into the world. My problems (numerous though they may be in real life- ehem) begin with the invasion of privacy inherent in these actions and end with a worldview I think untenable. Or, in English- this is just a really bad idea. Here’s why:
1. Making value judgments about another person’s ability to parent well can be at best erroneous and at worst prejudicial. How do we measure “quality of life”? Tax returns? Home visits? The labels on their clothes?
2. What course in medical school will these doctors take to accurately assess patients’ ability to be a good parent? How can we trust that they will make the right decision? What if they’re wrong? (Think of the lawsuits!)
3. All of Dr. Murray’s opinion holds forth a worldview that stresses functionality, a common argument in pro-choice, pro-euthanasia circles. In other words- if the child is born with developmental problems, wouldn’t that child be better off dead? If the woman has been in a coma for x amount of time, shouldn’t we just shut her off?
I know- hard stuff. It’s easy to say that Nadya Suleman’s actions were irresponsible, but less easy to think about the consequences of a worldview akin to Dr. Murray’s. If, as Mr. Prez and the Dems hope, we become a nation of choice, it’s interesting to think about just who’d be controlling those choices.