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Huntington's Disease And Its Ethics Essay

1008 words - 4 pages

Huntington's Disease and Its Ethics

In “Genetics and Reproductive Risk: Can having children be immoral,”
L.M Purdy discusses the notion that the recent advances in
reproductive technology impose a moral obligation on individuals to
prevent the birth of “affected” babies that will not have a “minimally
satisfying life.” There are, however, several assumptions that the
author makes in reaching the conclusion that having “affected”
children is immoral.

The author makes the claim that people with Huntington’s disease are
unlikely to live a minimally satisfying life. It is known however,
that Huntington’s disease does not take any affect until 40-50 years
of age. Thus, those 40-50 years can easily be lived the same, without
the affects of the disease, as those individuals who are not affected
with Huntington’s disease. Just as those without the disease have a
satisfying life before the age of 50 so can those with Huntington’s.
Thus, there whole life is not doomed to be unsatisfying. If
questioned, many individuals would chose only 40-50 of a “good,
disease free” life than no life at all. When the author states that is
unacceptable to accept the risk of inheriting this disease with the
consent of the future child, the author fails to recognize that
essentially all actions performed by the surrogate mother are done
without consent. This includes drinking alcohol and smoking. While
these behaviors are harmful in large amounts, they are not monitored
by a third party nor have proven to cause enough damage in small
amounts so the life of the child would be unsatisfying. Thus, the
mother is accepting a risk on behalf of another, yet while it may be
considered immoral to drink or smoke in the first place it should not
considered immoral to have the child. If parental testing is used in
order to prevent mothers from having affected children because it is
immoral to accept the risk, one could extend this argument to
monitoring a mother’s alcohol and nicotine consumption, which would be
very hard and ineffective, and could impinge on the rights of the
mother. If a mother has a moral obligation to avoid accepting the
risk, not a definite outcome, of having a child with Huntington’s,
should mother who(although maybe wrongfully) had a few drinks be
morally obliged to prevent the birth of a child at the “risk” that the
child may have a defect? The author is assuming that it is immoral to
accept the risk because the birth results in a “terrible”...

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