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Morally Grey: Biological Children

Morally Grey: Biological Children http://scigjt13.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/karyotype.gif
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When does the desire for children turn grey? Is it okay if you know you will give your child a disease? Is there a line? And where is it?

  Genetic Disorders and Diseases

Essentially, is there a line to draw on the quest for biological children? No one person should decide for another couple if they can have children. This is not a call to create a stigma around those who need extra help from fertility clinics. However, should there be protocols when a doctor should and should not go forth with fertility treatments? A physician swears to “do no harm.” Can he keep that promise if the children brought into the world have a known chance of being sick or sterile?

Let’s move aside from infertility to parents who are carriers for disease. One such is Lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can be inherited from one parent having it. There are some patients who can survive an almost normal life with Lupus. Others can have a flare, where their immune system turns deadly, and be left in need of organ transplants. Should a parent with Lupus be allowed to have children and give them Lupus? Should there be genetic screening? Could that screening go badly?

There is also Huntington’s disease, or HD. HD tends to affect people in their midlife, after reproducing children. HD causes brain degeneration and usually leads to loss of motor control and death. While drug advances have increased both quantity and quality of life, HD is still an early death. A little genetics: HD is called autosomal dominant. This means that a person only needs 1 copy of the gene from either parent (you have a total of 2 copies of every gene, one from your mother and one from your father) to have the disease. Should a person who has the HD gene take a 50/50 chance to have a child?

There are multitudes of other disease that have the same inheritance pattern, which leaves a 50/50 chance of all children being affected. Should a parent with this affliction be allowed to procreate?

When does the choice become too utilitarian? It may appear fundamentally wrong to tell a person they cannot do something so very personal. However, is it right to subject a child to such disease and troubles? Should we have genetic screening? Should we give individuals who are carriers or have a disease to IVF to prevent the “bad” eggs and sperm from joining each other? How will a son born to ICSI feel when he discovers he cannot reproduce and everyone knew? Is this even an issue at all? These decisions can and do affect others if you think about the costs and resources affected children may need.

At what point would it be “cruel” to bring a child into the world? One could argue that it is already cruel to bring children into this world given its issues. Is the use of IVF even an issue at all? Is it ludicrous to even think about these issues?

I don’t know. What do you think?

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Comments

Most people with diseases, either genetic or otherwise, are generally glad to be alive. I know. I'm one of them. But even if the truth were otherwise, even if every less-than-perfect person were completely miserable, to give the government the power to say who is allowed to reproduce and who isn't is a far worse outcome than the "problem" it is meant to solve.

02/12/2013

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