Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Parenthood and Life So Easily Discarded

While I'm doing some work, I came across this article "Imagining Our Children into Non-Existence" written by Joseph Capizzi. From the introduction:
One of the consolations of the religious mindset is the release from the illusion that we can control our destinies. The release from this illusion, the believer knows, is also a relief from the pressures associated with our attempts to control our lives. Even the irreligious can come to learn this, and one of the best educations in the disillusionment of control is parenthood. Technology, however, increasingly saps parenthood of the capacity to teach this lesson.
The rest of the article discusses a New York Times piece which looks at a couple's use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in screening out potentially harmful cancers. The couple could not bring a child into this world knowing that they could have prevented future suffering from a cancer that is genetically linked to their family. With PGD, this can be stopped, that is, there is no need to bring a life into this world that has the potential for unnecessary suffering, when we have the technology to prevent it. The couple, having used, PGD, did find an embryo that did not have a genetic predisposition to a certain cancer. One could say, Chloe, the daughter of this couple, survived the process of PGD.

But as Capizzi reminds us:
It’s hard to for me to imagine how the rest of Chloe’s life can escape the illusion her father and mother adopted. One doesn’t have children, so much as unleash them into the world, with all its dangers foreseen and unforeseen. Once you’ve adopted the illusion you can control your child’s destiny, how do you let them go? Once you’ve made the decision that this child can enter the world, but these children cannot, how will you manage the first unforeseen failure, or fall, or illness? That is the course the Kingsburys have taken. They didn’t stop the disease, as the father put it; they stopped the carriers of the disease. Chloe lives because scientists don’t yet have tests for every human imperfection; because science has not yet convinced people like the Kingsburys that life isn’t worth the risks. The article states that they “passed over” four embryos that had the defective gene and two more that failed the $2000 potential Downs test. Those embryos – those lives – were discarded. At least six of Chloe’s siblings were sacrificed for her existence. How’s that for growing up with pressure? She’d better do well in school.