Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Willing into existence - or how we can best use abandoned children

Louis M. Guenin an ethicist, posits a theory on how we can best rationalize the use of human embryos in research.
"Guenin writes that the overlooked reasoning starts from the premise that a woman's decision declining transfer of her externally created embryo into her,
or into anyone else, is a morally permissible exercise of discretion; and further, that an embryo barred by such a decision from the womb does not correspond to a possible person and cannot gain anything from being classified as an actual person."

This is actually becoming quite a popular idea. Somehow it is the will of the mother that brings the child into existence. If the mother wills that it is not a child, then it is a clump of cells that can be removed. If the mother wills that it is a child, then we can welcome the very same clump of cells into the human family.

The objective reality is that the cells are the same in either case. Identical. All that is different is the subjective opinion of the mother. One of the opinions is flat out wrong. Last time I checked there was only one being who could use his will to bring anything into existence.

Take special note of the second part, "an embryo barred from the womb". A womb is an embryo's natural environment, much as an infant belongs in the arms of the mother or the family. Would an infant barred from the mother also be a non-person? No, it would just be an abandoned child. Most societies would have pity on the abandoned child and try to offer a different home. But not us. We like the idea of using that abandoned embryo to further our scientific understanding. What happens to a society that uses abandoned children in such a fashion?