Reproductive health is a major concern, especially to women of child bearing age, in the society today. This has further been accentuated by the recent advancement in reproductive techniques and technologies. New advancement in reproductive health including birth control, invitro fertilization and reproductive screening continue to receive widespread acceptance and a share of concern from scholars and citizens alike.
One of the issues that has been trending is the issue of reproductive screening. This issue has brought about debate over the years among different scholars and researchers who have written several works on this issue. Among these scholars are Cynthia B. Cohen and Jeff McMahan who essays, "Give Me Children or I shall Die!" New Reproductive Technologies and Harm to Children and The morality of screening for disability highlight the moral and ethical justification, the benefits as well as the drawbacks of reproductive screening.
In her essay "Give Me Children or I shall Die!" New Reproductive Technologies and Harm to Children, Cynthia B Cohen describes the reproductive health techniques such as invitro fertilization as an enabling factor for women who would otherwise have been barren, impotent, practicing same sex parenthood or any other underlying condition that would render sexual reproduction useless. As god had instructed the bible to multiply and increase the population of the earth, Cohen suggests that these also deserve a right to parenthood.
However, Cohen goes ahead to say that these technologies are not flawless. She claims that although no substantial research has been carried to ascertain the physical implications of these techniques, the social and emotional impact on children born this can be observed. In her essay, Cohen brings out the idea that these children tend to look at themselves as commodities rather than individuals. This ends up giving these a lower quality of life than their naturally born counterparts this would be made worse if the child is born with any physical or genetically deficiency.
She further argues that in as much as these new technologies may produce children with some forms of deficits, it should not be a basis for considering these techniques wrong. Instead she suggests that we should focus on and adopt the existing argument that claims that bringing up children with some form of deficits is much better off than have no children at all. A fact that most modern Americans tend to agree with.
Cynthia B Cohens point of view is shared by Jeff McMahan in his essay, and The morality of screening for disability. McMahan argues that indeed having children with disability is not as bad as most people perceive it to be. In his essay, McMahan talks the different scenarios that may result in a disabled child which he separates into two natural causes and artificially induced causes. His gives a very interesting of a woman who takes an aphrodisiac drug that enhances her sexual pleasure but with the added side effect of inducing disability by destroying the already produced egg and replacing it with a new egg that has been induced from the ovaries.
The end result is that the child she produces ends up becoming disabled. McMahan argues that although they woman might have been aware that the use of the drug would result in conception of a disabled child, she is ready to accept the outcome in order to enjoy the sexual pleasure that the drug will bring. Essentially, this particular lady identifies with Cynthia B. Cohens argument that having a child with a disability is may not be as bad as having no child at all.
However, this is where the similarities between these two philosophers ends. Cohen supports the idea of using reproductive techniques even though they may have unwanted effects on the unwanted baby. She further argues that it is the moral responsibility of the parents to determine the child that they would want to have. Therefore, suggests that reproductive screening, as part of the reproductive technique is justifiable as it is solely the decision of the parents to decide whether or not they would want to have a disabled child.
Jeff McMahan on the other hand, provides a contradicting opinion suggesting that disability whether induced by practice of the mother or not, is not a bad thing and that it is wrong to assume that that people with disabilities are worse off than their privileged counterparts. McMahan further argues that adopting techniques of preventing disability tends to portray disability in a negative light and that being disabled is worse off than being enabled. The increased acceptance of these techniques also reduces the solidarity, sense of collective identity as well reducing the political power that they already possess.
However, it is my opinion that these reproductive techniques and technologies may not be as bad as they are thought to be, although this is entirely dependent on an individuals point of view. Let us look at it from my own point of view. Let us imagine three two scenarios; a barren mother and a same sex couple.
The worst possible thing that would ever happen to any woman is bareness. To many, living childless is an occurrence they can live with it so long as the love between them is strong. However, in some relationships, a child is considered the epitome of the union (Miall, 1986) These particular couples, will be willing to do anything possible to enabling them have a child and as such reproductive technologies offer the best legal alternatives. Technologies such as invitro fertilization offer these couples a chance at parenthood.
Same sex couples are a group that have considerably adopted these new techniques. Since they are also human, it would be fair for them to also want to have children of their own to continue their lineage. Since the processes involved in adoption can be discouraging to many, the best alternative would be to go the invitro way. Furthermore, these couples may not know the actual source of the egg or sperm that they will use therefore screening in this case would be highly recommended (Goldberg, 2010).
Furthermore, the biological identity of the child will be preserved since it is the parents reproductive units that are used in conception with the surrogate mother acting only as a host and can therefore lay no legal claim to the child. IVF technology can also be described a safe practice since it limits the need for physical contacts therefore preventing STIs (Elder & Dale, 2010)
Another benefit that reproductive technologies offer is the ability to decide the attributes that a child will possess. As can be seen in my opening arguments, parents have the choice of deciding how their children will turn out to be, disabled or not (Mastenbroek et al., 2007). Though in some quarters this may be considered wrong, if we consider a same sex couple who absolutely have no chance of natural reproduction, then offering them the opportunity to decide on whom to share with their traits seems like a moral choice, since it is the right of every human to choose their partner.
In summary, we can deduce that reproductive technologies and reproductive screening have their drawbacks in certain quarters. However, most of these arguments are based on moral grounds rather than on accurate scientific findings. Therefore, it would be imprudent to portray these technologies as evil without first considering at the advantages that these technologies can deliver to our modern day society.
Cohen, C. B. (1996). Give Me Children or I Shall Die! New Reproductive Technologies and Elder, K., & Dale, B. (2010). In-vitro fertilization. Cambridge University Press.
Goldberg, A. E. (2010). Lesbian and gay parents and their children: Research on the family life cycle. American Psychological Association.
Harm to Children. Hastings Center Report, 26(2), 19-27.
Mastenbroek, S., Twisk, M., van Echten-Arends, J., Sikkema-Raddatz, B., Korevaar, J. C., Verhoeve, H. R., ... & Buys, C. H. (2007). In vitro fertilization with preimplantation genetic screening. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(1), 9-17.
McMahan, J. (2005). The morality of screening for disability. Reproductive biomedicine online, 10, 129-132.
Miall, C. E. (1986). The stigma of involuntary childlessness. Social problems, 33(4), 268-282
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