Genetic Diseases - Laura Purdy Genetic Diseases Can Having...

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Unformatted text preview: Laura Purdy Genetic Diseases: Can Having Children be Immoral? Sandra Woien PHI294 – LC Bioethics Fall 2005 1 Genetics and Reproductive Risk Purdy’s Thesis: It is wrong to reproduce when we know there is a high risk of transmitting a serious disease or defect. 2 Do we have the right to reproduce? There is no explicit constitutional right to reproduce. Purdy claims it may not always be moral to exercise our right to reproduce. She claims that the possibility of harm may constrain our right to reproduce since no right is absolute. 3 Her Argument We should try to provide every child with a normal opportunity for health. It is not wrong to prevent possible children from existing. Thus, we may have the moral duty to refrain from childbearing. 4 Considering the Question from the Child’s Point of View Principle: We ought to provide every child a normal opportunity for a good life. What do we mean by “normal opportunity”? 5 Her Assumption People with Huntington’s chorea lack a normal opportunity for health. Does Huntington’s Disease substantially impair a person’s ability to lead a good life? 6 Considering the Question from the Child’s Point of View cont. To fail to provide our children with a minimally satisfying life would create unnecessary unhappiness or unfair disadvantage for some persons. 7 Considering the Question from the Child’s Point of View cont. Principle: We do not harm possible children if we prevent them from existing. Why is it not wrong to prevent the existence of possible persons? 8 Considering the Question from the Child’s Point of View cont. Given that possible children do not presently exist as actual individuals, they do not have a right to be brought into existence. Thus, no one is maltreated by measures to avoid the conception of a possible person. 9 Considering the Question from the Parents’ Perspective Purdy claims that asking individuals to refrain from childbearing is not a substantial sacrifice. Why do people want children? Should all desires be satisfied even if their fulfillment seriously harms others? 10 Criticisms of Purdy’s Argument Parents may not have a duty to provide their children with a normal opportunity for a good life. Purdy may dismiss the interests of the parents too easily. 11 Arguments from Disability Much of suffering of disabled persons arises not from their disabilities but from the social responses to their disabilities. People who take Purdy’s position are just trying to have a ‘perfect’ child. When we attempt to prevent the birth of some children with specific disabilities, it sends a negative message to living people with similar disabilities. 12 Purdy’s Responses This undermines the case that health is valuable. Why should we provide health care, reduce pollution, etc. if health is not valuable? This is a straw person argument. She does not say this at all. In fact, she opposes such motivations. She disputes this claim. We should make a distinction between a trait and a person. 13 Final Thoughts If we were able to identify the gene for HD and eliminate it early in pregnancy, would there be a reason not to? If the gene for HD could be altered through somatic gene therapy, would there be a reason to oppose this? 14 References Purdy, Laura. “Loving Future People.” In Reproduction, Ethics, and the Law, edited by Joan Callahan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. Ridley, Aaron. Beginning Bioethics. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s,1998. 15 ...
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