A Tale Of Two Bioethicists

What do these two bioethicists have in common?

Bioethicist number one:

[The article I’ve been asked to comment on] doesn’t say anything remarkably new, although it does add some thoughts about the justifiability of infanticide in cases in which the infant is not severely disabled, including a discussion of whether it could be justifiable to kill the newborn infant even when there is a couple who are keen to adopt such a child.

The moral status of newborn infants is a real issue, and it is proper for academic journals to publish articles that, like this one, discuss it in a serious and well-reasoned manner. People who wish to defend the traditional view of the sanctity of all human life should respond to the authors’ arguments, not by mere abuse….

…Opponents of abortion ought to welcome articles arguing that there is no real difference of moral status between the fetus and the newborn, for they have been arguing that themselves for many years. Their problem, apparently, is that most of them do not know how to argue against anyone who agrees with them that the fetus and newborn infant have the same moral status, but then denies that merely existing as an innocent living human being is enough to give a being a right to life. If opponents of abortion believe they can win this debate by reason and argument, rather than by threats and intimidation, they have some work to do.

Bioethicist number two:

…The absent father who donates sperm anonymously, the financial exchanges involved, and the depersonalized laboratory environment surrounding their origins imply an element of being “used.” It can be difficult for such children to put into words what they are really feeling and experiencing…

…Because awareness of our own human roots is critical to our sense of personal identity, and because of our vulnerable “sense of self” as humans, we have a particular responsibility to avoid creating a subclass of those who have “different origins” from the rest of us. It ought to come as no surprise that subtle psychological burdens may be placed upon children born from donor sperm as they subjectively struggle with broken or absent relationships, and experience a sense of being a “commodity” or an “object” because of how they were created.

What I see both bioethicists having in common: they both defy conventional wisdom in acknowledging that the tie between parent and child remains relevant even when we don’t want it to be.


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  1. Pingback: “Conflict in ethics of baby-making” | Intellectual Imperialism

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