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Life Is Now A Commodity
Health Care and Reproductive Technology As If Society Mattered

We now live in Huxley’s Brave New World. Did you expect it to be announced at a press conference?

Using lavish subsidies, human life is made in glassware, quality-controlled, frozen, cut up for parts and disposed of at will, all on a mass scale. Sexuality is separated from reproduction, pleasure is the guiding principle of human existence and tens of millions of alienated Americans use anti-depressants.

How did we get here?

In the 1970s, the scholar Robert Ayres observed that building new, extravagantly equipped hospitals in the Third World actually costs lives. His premise was that, for every dollar spent to extend the life of one person in an expensive hospital, many more people could be supplied with basic life-sustaining items, such as food, clean water or housing. Today, 1.2 billion people are living—- and dying—- on less than $2 per day. Yet, Ayres’ appeal for basic justice is disturbingly absent from contemporary public discourse.

Instead, billions of public dollars are spent daily on high tech medicine. A growing proportion of these subsidies are devoted to advancing the Brave New World of reproductive and genetic technologies. In American states where medical insurers are required to fund fertility treatments, the average ratepayer spends over $400 per year to subsidize these treatments; this in a country where over 44 million cannot afford even basic health care.

Demand for these technologies has been socially and technologically created: STD and abortion scarring very frequently cause infertility. Most remaining cases involve attempts to conceive well beyond prime child-bearing years. Thus, the postponement and attenuation of male/female commitment, and the resultant wave of infertility, arises from reliance on contraception and abortion. In turn, these twin pillars of reproductive choice are predicated on the dogmatic, short-sighted, self-centered and dubious notions that sexuality has no lasting consequences, that children are worthy to live only if adults want them to and that society must subsidize-- but cannot limit-- reproduction.

Upon this social, moral and technological basis, technologies such as IVF (and its moral and technological cousins like ICSI and cloning), sperm and egg shopping, sex selection, genetic screening and eugenic abortion have become common. By serving individual demands for genetic replicas, life creation has become a lucrative industry and life has been transformed into a manufactured, designed commodity. The accelerating manufacture and commodification of life is depleting a huge and irreplaceable moral resource, which, in turn, is profoundly and irreversibly damaging human self-perception and social relations.

Please consider the attached essays and book reviews and listen to the six original tunes about technology and individualism run amok.

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Disclaimer: Lycos provides this site free of charge. Therefore, Humanfuture cannot control-- and most certainly does not endorse-- the pop-up ads that have recently appeared. These ads serve as unwitting self-satire by the contemptible advertisers and underscore Humanfuture's central point: Life truly has become a commodity.

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