I teach #philosophy and work as a researcher for the Iona Institute (www.ionainstitute.ie) Abruzzese. #Distributism
The immoral origins of certain cell-lines used in medical research https://ionainstitute.ie/the-immoral-origins-of-certain-cell-lines-used-in-medical-research/
Free book: The Ethics of a Lockdown.
CW long post (original content)
The Paradox of Altruistic Gamete Donation and Surrogacy
The various forms of artificial human reproduction are, all of them, problematic; not least because they present all sorts of complex moral and legal issues. And this blog touches on such issues but, before going into the complexity, let us first have a little simplicity.
Let us, therefore, consider what appears to many to be the least problematic forms of artificial human reproduction: altruistic gamete donation and altruistic surrogacy. They are called ‘altruistic’ because they are the freely given gifts of women who seek no profit; women who simply want to do good, and who are under no pressure to do so.
Such an altruistic woman is Anne, a healthy young woman who donates eggs so that an infertile couple can have children. Let's suppose that no monetary exchange is involved, not even in the form of compensation for expenses, which is still a subtle form of exchange. Anne, remember, expects nothing in return from the couple. This is altruism, not commerce. Some people would find her action morally acceptable, even laudable; and they would see no good reason why it should not be considered perfectly legal.
Another such altruistic woman is Marie. Like Anne, Marie is a healthy young woman and absolutely altruistic. Anne acts as a surrogate mother for a couple because the woman who wants to become a mother cannot carry a pregnancy. Again, let's suppose that no monetary exchange is involved, not even in the form of compensation for expenses. Marie allows the use of her womb for mere altruism and expects nothing in return from the couple. Some people would find her action, too, to be morally acceptable; even laudable. This, too, they believe, should be perfectly legal.
Certainly, appropriate forms of regulation would be necessary in the cases of both, Anne and Marie, to anticipate and avoid possible conflicts that just might arise between the parties involved. But, in general, there are not many people who would find the actions of either Anne or Marie to be, in any way, dreadfully, seriously, problematic.
Now, let us imagine another healthy, young, and exceptionally altruistic woman, whom we shall call, for obvious reasons, Annemarie. Annemarie, in this imaginary case, both donates her eggs to, and, acts as a surrogate mother for, a particular infertile couple, the woman of which cannot carry a pregnancy. Annemarie does the same, and is the same, as Anne and Marie. The same: but, different.
Yes, here is the paradox: while some people would approve of the actions of Anne, and of Marie, the actions of Annemarie seem to them to be very different. Because very few people would consider the practice of conceiving and gestating a child with the deliberate intention to give the child away to a commissioning couple, even for purely altruistic reasons, to be either morally or legally acceptable. So, with Anne and Marie: not problematic. Yet, with Annemarie: so problematic.
What is so wrong in the case of Annemarie that is not seemingly wrong in the cases of Anne or Marie? If two actions are individually good, why are they not good when combined together?
The paradox obviously does not arise for those who do not consider gamete donation – that is the donation of either eggs or sperm - or surrogacy, (or both,) to be in any way acceptable. For others, the paradox is there.
Ova are donated with a view to generating children; and if a surrogate mother is needed to complete the process why shouldn’t she be the very same woman who donates the eggs?
Similarly, if an altruistic surrogate mother is doing something good, isn’t she doing something even better if she is also the altruistic donor? Would it be different if Annemarie donates her ova to one couple and acts as a surrogate for a different couple?
We can easily imagine all sorts of permutations and combinations of roles, genders, relationships, number of people involved, etc., between the process of gamete donation and surrogacy. We can easily imagine just how complex and problematic the whole business can become.
In the reality of the world out there, cases are usually much more complicated that those presented here in such a simplified way. But, even as we discuss clear cut simplified cases, sooner or later some contradiction appears; and it points to something seriously wrong with splitting up the normal, and naturally composite, action of becoming the mother and the father of a child.
Those who would defend altruistic gamete donation and surrogacy should, if they are being logical, also defend the practice of generating children with the purpose of donating them to couples. For that is the logic of it all. Somehow, we feel that there is more to this than cold logic; this does not feel right and proper.
And those who have no problems with some form of compensation (be it a fee, or expenses, or whatever) for gamete donation and surrogacy, should have no problem with turning the bringing of a child into this world into a commercial business.
We demand to know: Since when has treating children as commodities to be given is progress?
Marriage in Ireland still declining despite a bumper 2022 https://familysolidarity.org/marriage-in-ireland-still-declining-despite-a-bumper-2022/
Bénédicte Colin on the European Certificate of Parenthood https://familysolidarity.org/benedicte-colin-on-the-european-certificate-of-parenthood/
This visual deep dive into one of the largest AI language datasets is nonstop fascinating, jaw-dropping, and troubling, and anyone who is remotely interested in how LLMs really work, their biases, or intellectual property should read it. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/interactive/2023/ai-chatbot-learning/
Webinar on the European Certificate of Parenthood https://familysolidarity.org/webinar-on-the-european-certificate-of-parenthood/
@bookstodon Today, my librarian told me about a good place to buy books online: Better World Books. Many of the books are library discards in very good condition. The shipping is free, and the proceeds go toward libraries, literacy programs (worldwide) and education. #books #bookstodon #library
FAFCE calls the European Commission to include surrogacy in the review of its EU Directive on human trafficking https://familysolidarity.org/fafce-calls-the-european-commission-to-include-surrogacy-in-the-review-of-its-eu-directive-on-human-trafficking/
Pet birds on the loose are teaching wild birds to talk... in English...
From my friend Erika.
Children are left unprotected against extreme pornography https://familysolidarity.org/children-are-left-unprotected-against-extreme-pornography/
NCCA confirms worst suspicions of parents about gender ideology https://familysolidarity.org/ncca-confirms-worst-suspicions-of-parents-about-gender-ideology/
My Researchgate profile
Capitalism has convinced you RSS is antiquated. The real reason it's fading is because it doesn't have ads and tracking. You going to tell me the news article is truly better on a browser with ads than on a little program you can open any time, on or offline?
A hundred of experts from all over the world, will work this Friday, March 3 to publish the #CasablancaDeclaration for the abolition of surrogacy, draw the attention of States and convince them that it is necessary to stop #reproductiveexploitation
CW LONG POST ORIGINAL CONTENT
A new organ donor bill is ethically questionable
If a proposed new law is passed, after you die your organs can be removed from your body for medical purposes unless you expressly say beforehand that you do not want this to happen. Consent is otherwise assumed. As usual, the law is going through the various parliamentary stages without proper debate, even though the proposal is ethically questionable. An Organ Donor Register, instead, should be established.
The proposed law is called the ‘Human Tissue 2022 Bill’. It covers issues such as the donation and transplantation of organs from deceased persons.
At present, an opt-in system exists. This means that only those who have expressly declared their intention to donate organs after they die will have them removed from their bodies, and even then only with the final approval of the family.
The new regime will mean consent is assumed, although final authorisation from a designated family member will still be needed.
The proposed regime is motivated by the good intention of addressing the problem of a shortage of organs for transplant in Ireland, but it is still ethically questionable as donation should arise only from an informed and deliberate decision on a person’s part.
Presumed consent is based instead on the assumption that we are all aware that our organs are available for transplantation upon death and we are happy with that. But what is this assumption really based on?
The HSE’s own consent policy says: “Consent involves a process of communication about the proposed intervention in which the person has received sufficient information to enable them to understand the nature, potential risks and benefits of the proposed intervention”.
It is very unlikely that the new system of presumed consent will meet these criteria.
To make the new system more ethical, patients should be explicitly asked to express their opinion on the matter when attending a hospital or their GP. This will prompt awareness and provoke conversation about donation, which must remain a choice freely and explicitly made and not assumed. Taking without asking is not giving.
As suggested by the Irish Kidney Association, there should be an Organ Donor Register, where all wishes – to opt in or out – are explicitly recorded. “Knowing that a loved one had proactively recorded their wish to be an organ donor makes the family decision to consent a much easier proposition”, a representative of the Irish Kidney Association told the Oireachtas.
What is positive in this new Bill is that it is not inspired by a principle of absolute bodily autonomy of the patients, but it requires the involvement of their families, who could even overrule the decision of the deceased and veto the donation.
There are many reasons why the ultimate word should be with the families rather than with the individual.
While it is important to honour the wish of the deceased, we need to consider that personal decisions affect others, particularly the family. Some cultures place special importance on respecting the integrity of the body after death. Moreover, when organ donation happens against the wish of the family, they might refuse to cooperate, or their discontent could also affect the work of the health-care staff.
A proper ethical system in this area should follow two basic principles: explicit (not presumed) consent from the individual, and approval from the family following the death of the person. The second principle is still followed, but not the first and more important one.
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
A record of how eugenics has taken hold in Ireland
CW Long post. Original content.
How parents of DS children are subtly directed toward abortion
There has been little reaction to the news that 95pc of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome before birth at the Rotunda hospital are subsequently aborted in England.
The response to these horrendous figures has been silence or fatalism. For some, it is an individual “choice” to be respected. There is nothing to be worried about or, even when people find the figures regrettable, little can be done.
“I don’t have a view on whether that is the right thing. We don’t advocate for it, that is just the lived experience”, said prof Fergal Malone, master of the Rotunda.
Is it true? Is it really a purely personal choice, without outside influence or expectations from others? Two recent studies on the experience of parents of children with DS indicate otherwise.
Irish research published last year interviewed eight people following the birth of a child with DS. Some praised the doctors and nurses, but others said the information they received was too medically focused and too negative. It is very hard to believe the same does not happen to couples who are told their baby has DS before it is born.
“Don’t come in with a list of negatives, all the negatives that were put in your head initially we never expected her to be this good now”, said one of the interviewed mothers.
She recalls: “We received purely negative information that she could have this or that, …”
A father said, “Doctors should show compassion when they are delivering the news, have patience and don’t be rushing in and out”.
A Danish study spoke to parents who were told their babies had Down Syndrome before they were born. In Denmark, almost all children with DS are aborted.
The study notes: “Following the diagnosis, the couples were generally critical of the information provided by the hospital. Some felt that the health professionals had painted an unnecessarily grim picture of Down Syndrome based on what couples perceived as outdated information. … Some felt that there was an unnecessary focus on potential diseases and additional diagnoses when the couple was more interested in their potential for living a fulfilling life.”
Participants in the study report feeling pressure from health professionals they encountered to abort, or else that they were presented with overly negative information about their babies.
The research found that “couples felt that termination of pregnancy had been taken for granted following the diagnosis: ‘As the obstetrician sat down, she put those abortion application forms on the table in front of her’”, recalls a mother.
Even conveying apparently neutral information, such as presenting what other couples generally do, can condition parents. We tend to imitate others. Social expectations can be subtle and unconscious.
“Maybe there’s something wrong with me since I don’t just do what 98pc of all people would do”, said a Danish mother in the study, who decided to have the baby.
“The high percentage of terminations in Denmark was a source of doubt and uncertainty during the decision-making process. This left the couples feeling vulnerable”, it notes.
“Why is Down Syndrome the disability [considered] socially acceptable to terminate? And how do we come back from that?”, asks actress Sally Phillips in her documentary “Prenatal Genetic Testing” where she investigates how Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests have increased the number of babies with DS, and other genetic or chromosomal anomalies, who are being aborted. Phillips has a son with Down Syndrome.
These tests, which can take place in the first trimester of pregnancy, are becoming more affordable and available. They can be used to prepare families to welcome a child with medical anomalies, or they can be used to get rid of them, as almost always happens when a diagnosis of DS is given. A proper ethical debate about those prenatal tests has still to happen in Ireland.
In a society that has normalised abortion, the main way to fight the progressive elimination of children with DS is for doctors to portray life with the condition, and life for the parents of such a child, in far more positive terms than seems to be the case at the moment. The medical professionals claim to be neutral about their use, but being not directive isn’t enough when society goes in one direction only.
Certainly, a national debate is called for.
I teach #philosophy and work as a researcher for the Iona Institute (www.ionainstitute.ie) Abruzzese. #Distributism
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