Thursday, February 17, 2011

What kind of life?

Had the class respond to Frances Kissling's thought experiment this morning. Very interesting results! (It makes a big difference to demand not just a first reaction but five - you really see how thoughts or reactions unfold, check, correct, calibrate - including your own. Try it yourself!) Some of the responses:

Sounds like the dystopia of "Brave New World" / the world of designer babies / would only rich people have access? / this or something like this seems inevitable as medicine finds safer, painfree ways of doing things / we'll have to get used to it

Would take the air out of prolife/prochoice debates / who would pay for it? / society might worsen if some of these children go unclaimed / we already have problems with foster care / would procreation be rendered obsolete?

Creepy in a make-your-own-baby way / sounds expensive / class dimensions, including stigma for people who couldn't afford it? / would abortion still be an option? / would lead to overpopulation (we already can't find jobs for people)

There'd be conflicts between claims to ownership of biological and adoptive mothers / could one really find responsible parents? / how is system regulated / what about fetuses with serious diseases, might some give these fetuses away, and can one expect new parents to take them on / seems to go against the natural order / but also would cause overpopulation

Would the families which gave fetuses away not be affected? / too great a burden on foster care system / would religious organizations step in? / attitudes towards sex and contraception would change / how late in a pregnancy could this happen?

Sounds like "The Matrix" / anything described as "risk-free and pain-free" makes me uncomfortable / just what problem is it supposed to be solving? / at what stage does care in the "non-uterine environment" end: when are you kicked out?


Nobody had the initial reaction of relief or even joy that the fetus lives which Kissling hopes for. (Why are we so cynical, asked one student? I said I didn't think it wass cynicism, but rather awareness of the difficulty of ensuring a good life for someone; indeed, I heard much awareness of the value and fragility of caring relationships.) But it's a really interesting set of questions and concerns. It names many of the reasons our culture accepts that there are times when termination of an unborn life may be appropriate, along with other uneasinesses about the technologization of reproduction.

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