Friday, 26 January 2007

Pro ethics...

Here's a short article about the ethics of a company that allows parents to choose both the egg and sperm donors for their child. The entry is entitled "Washington Post Examines Ethical Issues Of Company That Allows Parents To Select Embryo Characteristics". When I first read this I thought it would be an article about gene manipulation not deciding what donors you'll choose based on their favourite book!

I'm not making any judgment here one way or the other, but when they quote a law professor saying flatly that it "doesn't pose any new major ethical problems", I kinda cringed. First of all, since when does knowing the law make you an expert in ethics? You can certainly be involved in the conversation but this is like a nurse saying he can do surgery or a lawyer claiming she could do the work of a cop. Yes they are related but there are already people who specialize in ethics: they're called ethicists, philosophers who have studied specifically in the field of ethics. Don't take away their jobs -- they're already short of them as it is.

Secondly, how could you say that because people can now choose sperm to combine with their own egg or vice versa, choosing both is nothing new. It's not necessarily anything groundbreakingly different, but it seems different enough to be worth discussing. At the very least, it's heading down the road to where we're picking and choosing parts of genes to build our babies. I don't see anything inherently evil with choosing the characteristics of our offspring. As it says in the article, we sorta do that already, but we are not always the best judges even on the rather broad scale of choosing our mates. I don't know if I want everybody to be able to choose exactly what their children will be like. I don't know if our species would survive that... LOL

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