Peace be to you!
Ohhhooo. I’m in the middle of my exam period, but I came across some very interesting topics as I looked at the current debatable issues in preparation for one of the exams. Abortion. Eugenics. Designer babies. How do you feel about them?
There are lots of ethical controversies surrounding them. But ethics, well, it’s made by humans, and since humans have so many different opinions… how do we know who’s right, and who’s wrong?
Do we accept it as a ‘right’ thing because a respectable person says so?
Theodore Roosevelt. If you’ve watched Night at the Museum, you would’ve known of him even if you’re not an American. We know that he’s considered as one of the greatest US president. But you might be surprised with his view on eugenics.
“I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done.
Criminals should be sterilised and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them… the emphasis should be laid on getting desirable people to breed.”
Letter from Theodore Roosevelt, 1913
I know from my lecture that this has been done in the past. People who are thought to have ‘bad genes’ are sterilised to prevent them from ‘breeding’ and increasing the population of people with unwanted traits.
That’s so wrong. Who are they to determine if a person’s genome is desirable or not?
Here in UK, people with sickle cell anemia gene may not be desirable. But in Africa, people with sickle cell anemia are more protected from malaria. They can survive longer. Different genes may be useful in different places. We’ll never know enough, so we really don’t have the right to alter the gene pool as we see fit.
And in some countries, the birth rate of male babies are higher than females. Boys are preferred in some countries because of their higher potential of bringing economical benefits to the family, causing an increase in abortion of female babies, a phenomenon called female foeticide.
Abortion is a messy business. If you decide to do it early, it isn’t as bad as when you do it late. Just take some pills, the fetus will be expelled, and there’s no way it’ll survive.
After 12 weeks, some fetuses can be so well developed, they can be moving around in the womb as if they’re ‘walking’. In late pregnancy, if you want abortion, doctors have to inject some drug into the womb, right into the fetus’s heart to make sure the fetus die before expelling it outside. Why? Because if the abortion is done while the fetus is alive, and then killed by the doctor, it would be a HUGE uproar.
And, recently in Italy, such a thing happened. A baby was expelled from the womb, but survived the abortion procedure. The doctor just left the baby, without trying to keep it alive. After all, the mom didn’t want the baby. A priest found the baby and prayed by its side. Sadly, the baby died a few hours later. I wonder if the mother knows that the baby was actually alive after the procedure?
Stopping the baby’s heart inside the womb. Leaving the baby to die if it survives the abortion procedure. Aren’t they the same thing? In the end, you’re killing someone.
Right now in the UK, the upper limit of abortion is 24 weeks. If it’s beyond this, it’s considered illegal to do abortion. Basically the limit is set based on the findings that most babies won’t survive if they’re born before 24 weeks.
But *most*, not all. Based on the same findings, pre-term babies who’re born in hospitals before they reach 24 weeks were considered unlikely to survive, and the hospital staff would make no effort to try supporting the baby’s life.
I read a story about baby Will, who was born after only 22 weeks. The hospital staff thought that there’s no way he’d survive and just gave him to his mother, letting her hold her baby at least for a while. They thought he’s gonna live in his mother’s arm for like 10 minutes, or at most an hour.
But he lived, even after more than 5 hours. So the hospital staff decided that Will had potential to survive, and took him to the incubator. And Will lived on and grew into a normal boy.
This incident happened in the past though, and I don’t think this kind of thing is still happening. I hope not, at least. It shows just how little we know. We’ll never know what will exactly happen. Our limited knowledge can only bring us to a certain length.
Haha, so yeah, obviously you can see that I’m against abortion. I don’t support eugenics either. As much as I love Gundam SEED, and as attractive as the idea seems, I don’t think I’ll ever create a ‘designer baby‘.
Gundam SEED: The story revolves around the battles between Naturals (ie: normal humans) and Coordinators (ie: humans who are genetically modified before birth to possess enhanced traits). Athrun is a Coordinator, but Kira is a Natural (although actually he's been genetically modified too). Interesting story with great imagination 😀
True, there are cases where designer babies can help another sibling survive by being a donor of certain tissues, like bone marrow. Well, in this case, they’re referred as ‘saviour sibling’. But, even if I intended it for a good cause… it might end up like the girls in My Sister’s Keeper. How would the kid’s life be like, being born so that he/she could become a ‘spare part’ for another sibling? Proud? Happy? Rebellious? Fed-up?
Right now, I’m sure there are more people who think badly of eugenics compared to those who support it. It’s considered unethical. But ethics change. When it’s legalised, when more people do it, it will become so common, no one will think of it as a bad thing.
Abortion was legalised in 1967. And there were 22 000 abortions in that year. Then, in 1971, the number increased to 126 000. More people find it acceptable, more people do it. Initially people would’ve only considered abortion for very serious reason, like a case where the mother can die if the abortion is not done. I think it’s justified in this case.
But now, abortion is also done if the mother doesn’t want the baby, which can be due to various reasons. ‘Psychological’ harm to the mother. Fetal defect. Financial restraint. Population control.
After all it’s the mother’s right to do what she wants with her body, huh? Haha.
I’ve read that some disabled people say that they would’ve preferred to be born rather than being killed in the womb without having a say on it.
So, now you need to consider the baby’s right to live. Baby’s right to live vs mother’s right to control her body. I’d vote for the baby’s right to live.
But then. Another argument came up. At what stage does the fused sperm cell and ovum cell is considered a ‘human’? As soon as they fuse and become zygote? Or, after implant on the mother’s womb?
I’m still thinking about the answer to this one, to be honest.
I remember that there’re some verses in the Qur’an that mention about ‘ruh’ being given to the baby after bones and flesh have formed. (What is ‘ruh’? lol I dunno how to explain this. Something like… spirit? The thing that makes you alive.) But I dunno if it indicates that it’s the stage where the fetus becomes a ‘human’.
Many people, especially religious ones, seem to go with the idea that as soon as the zygote is formed, that’s when it’s considered that a new life has been created. Coz it will have the potential to become a living entity. Some scientists argue that life only begins after implantation onto uterus, coz before implantation, the blastocyst is capable of splitting up and becoming twins, creating separate entities. Others argue that the nervous system develops only after day 14, so before this time it’s not like the cells ‘feel’ anything anyway.
Lots of opinions. With sensible arguments. Which one will you support? Go with your brain’s reasoning capabilities, or will you follow what your holy scripture says?
LOL. In the end there’re more questions than answers. There are some things we can’t just get the answer by merely thinking.
Ethics are just guidelines. We made it up based on the current perception of what’s good and what’s not. And this perception changes, not only with time, but also with different cultures, places, religions. Even people of the same religion may view ethics differently.
Most muslim countries feel that education should be for all – males and females. But there are muslim governments that think that they have to restrict education only for males. Weird.
Screw what they think. Muslims were thought to read, and learn, from the very first verse of Qur’an that was revealed to prophet Muhammad pbuh.
Hmm. Again, my blog entry veer into some unplanned territories. LOL. I guess initially I wanted to say that, ethics is not enough to guide us. It changes, for the better or worse. Qur’an and hadith give us the answer. As long as we follow them, we’ll stay on the right path, insyaAllah.
Hehe. I love these abortion-eugenics topics so much. They open my eyes on so many things. Sadly, they didn’t come up in today’s exam. lol. We’ve got animal testing instead. Hmmm.
Right. I’ll stop now. Bubye!