Is Reproductive Technology Good for Society?
In discussing reproductive technology, Robert Wilentz, then Chief Justice of New Jersey’s Supreme Court concluded, “In a civilized society, some things should not be for sale.”
Livestock managers boast of controlling life “from semen to cellophane.” Increasingly, as demonstrated by gamete shopping, human reproduction follows this trend.
Many now rely on artificial conception to fulfill the “need” to have a child, Initially, I wonder what type of fulfillment an artificially inseminated woman would derive from bearing the offspring of men who would not have a relationship with them in the real world.
Beyond that, I wonder if making prospective parents sovereign over life and industrializing reproduction is socially constructive and consistent with societal notions of life and individual worth.
Is it ok for a parent to make a child into a concert pianist or baseball player against the child's will? Is it ok to choose to have a boy instead of a girl? Is it ok for a pregnant mother to use cocaine or alcohol? Should a parent be allowed to deny a child medical treatments that violate the parents' religious tenets? Doesn't life have intrinsic value, irrespective of parental wishes? If it's ok to abort a fetus because it's not yet a person, who are adults undergoing artificial conception to benefit, a being that does not exist, or themselves?
Aside from the philosophical questions raised by reprotech, in serving the individual interests of those who want to artificially conceive children, are we doing something very negative to the larger society in which all people live? Will the birth of babies become less cause for joy as babies become an entitlement and, through embryo selection or modification, child bearing resembles a trip to Wal-Mart?
Will society become even more stratified as the rich purchase genetic advantages for their offspring? If baby-making components can be put in jars, refrigerated or shipped through the mail and babies can be assembled or terminated in a lab, why shouldn't people view themselves and others as commodities? If they do, should we expect them to feel guilty about bombing buses or shooting up schools?
Ultimately, what kind of world are we making, in the name of reproductive freedom, for the children we are manufacturing? Is this why they’ve invented mint-flavored Prozac?