Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Consequences of Choice Absolutism [Serge]

This was a very thoughtful article in the Nation regarding the future of "reproductive freedom" in the wake of future technological advances. The author correctly identifies a real dilemma among those who believe that reproductive choice is absolute. What do we do when such individual choices begin to effect society at large? If so-called "reproductive choice" is an absolute right, then how do we deal with choices that are detrimental. His solution, shockingly enough for a pro-choicer, is government regulation of the process!

Current technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis [PGD] and sperm sorting--and possible future technologies such as cloning and germline modification--will enable parents to make decisions that greatly affect gender balance, disease burdens, genetic diversity and the genes of humans themselves. In order to address these new possibilities adequately, we will need to find a way to regulate some choices while maintaining existing reproductive freedoms.
In the article he argues that choices such as sex selection, screening for specific genetic traits, or even the eradication of some genetic diseases should be regulated (which means prohibited) even if such choices can be performed via the process of sperm and ovum selection. In other words, a mother would maintain the right to kill her prenatal child, but would be prohibited from manipulating her and her partner's gametes to conceive a child without a certain disease trait. This is very interesting thinking. The author then begins to sound like a pro-lifer:

So what is the appropriate response to these current and future issues? The most reasonable solution is regulation. Progressives are understandably wary of regulating anything related to reproductive decision-making. But an unregulated fertility industry is even more unappealing. Certain unregulated individual reproductive choices in a market system could easily lead to undesirable societal outcomes, particularly because individuals would be unlikely to sacrifice perceived benefits to their children for the seemingly abstract concept of the common good.
Undesirable social outcomes? Common good? Restricting one's individual reproductive choices for the common good because individuals will be unlikely to make right choices? The whole concept of "reproductive choice" is thrown into the waste bin.

These are things that our side have been saying for years. Unrestricted reproductive choice has already resulted in significant social and societal changes that have harmed the common good. Trumping one's right to dismember their pre-natal human being as an absolute has resulted in the situation we have now.

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