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Friday, November 01, 2013

Designer babies and related issues

The first part of this post is directed at Santanu Chatterjee, who has been very kindly and closely reading up and commenting upon several older posts. Why suddenly now, I wonder? But many thanks.

Also thanks for the prodding (this is with reference to your comment on my last post), but there were reasons why I haven't been writing for a while. Firstly, because I had already written four posts in October: that's about the monthly average. Secondly, I wanted the last post to stay on top for some time (you may be surprised to know that most visitors don't read anything beyond the last post - not even the comments). Thirdly, because a lot of momentous things have been happening in my life lately, and I have been rather more than usually preoccupied. Fourthly, I have written a very great deal on a very wide range subjects already over the last seven years and a half: no one is endlessly fertile with thoughts and ideas, and besides, one wants that readers keep visiting and reflecting and commenting upon older posts, as you have been doing lately: why should I have to keep coming up with new ones at the drop of a hat with unfailing regularity? Novelty for its own sake is neither very great nor good, and I don't work for Apple anyway... so thank you for prodding, but I hope this is a fairly adequate explanation.

Now as to things I have been thinking upon in between everything, here's one sample. Think about it, all, and let me know what you think. My take I shall mention if and when some sensible and thought-provoking comments come in.


Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,

Just a few random thoughts that popped up in my head as soon as I finished reading the article :-

First of all, I sometimes get really sickened at how business entrepreneurs exploit some of the human weaknesses.I would like to begin with the craps called playschools. 'Playschools'- a term which brings a sudden moment of relief and joy in parents of today's age. They are relieved of the burden of parenting a child in his/her yesteryears and happy because the certain this or that organisation 'guarantees' them that their child will 'stay ahead' of others in the rat race of marks and examinations. I am simply disgusted with this - are they so busy that they do not have the time to bring up THEIR OWN CHILD? Are they so dull that they cannot teach their own child simple stuffs? What do they expect the playschools to do? Teach their children calculus?
I can proudly say that my mother brought me up while completing her M.A course while I simply feel sorry for those women whom I see before my eyes doing virtually nothing- yet can't find enough time to bring up her offspring.

Secondly, as the article has pointed out- it has become a 'business' to give birth to a baby. 'Fertility industry'- are we playing with the laws of nature? Have women lost the power to judge things? Risking their own lives for the sake of money for completely unknown people? What was supposed to be a cure for infertility has ended up being the cradle for designer babies.I don't understand how can a woman have a baby in her womb and then part with it as soon as the baby is born. Can she be such hardhearted? It might be okay for those who are doing it for the people whom they know. But still....
I am really scared at what we are heading to. Each time Apple or Google launches a product- I just marvel at the fact that how hard have they worked to retrograde
the human race a bit more than before. As Sir says- a time will come when we will talk to each other by sign-languages only- as primitive humans used to do.
This is what the movies like 'Matrix', 'Terminator' or the latest release of 'Superman' wants us to tell. I am not a big fan of any of them- but still -such
a note rings common in all of them . Are we so blind to see that we are heading towards the very doom that these movies want us to realize?

And thirdly, I am stunned at the demands of people and to the extent to which they can go. How can a gay couple want another woman to give birth to a baby for them? And even if she does- the very concept of father and mother would be unclear to the child in first place. In my opinion , adopting a child would have been a much more sane and humane option for them . I mean no offence to those who are gay- but think of it- can't they simply accept the fact that they have to
sacrifice in one hand to gain in the other?

with regards,
Soham Mukhopadhyay

ginger candy said...

Dear Sir,

Thanks for posting this article on your blog, for this is certainly an issue worth reflecting on. Let me start by saying that I am no expert on Eugenics, and so I may be kindly forgiven for getting some facts wrong, in which case I would like to be corrected. Even so, it appears to me that the author of this article has got a lot of things wrong, in addition to some facts that she has actually got right.

I will begin with the things she has correctly pointed out in this article. Firstly, she rightly points out that the birth of reproductive technology stemmed from the noble intention of helping infertile and otherwise-disabled people to conceive a baby. That must be the way modern reproductive technologies should function, and it should not replace natural child birth, at least not until there is conclusive evidence that assisted reproductive methods do not induce grave health risks such as cancer and heart problems. She has also pointed out the high risks associated with egg donation and the rampant recklessness of the fertilization industry in trying to hide these hard facts under the carpet. It is a shame that no long-term study has been conducted on the health of egg donors, and nor are the gullible poor, young women properly informed about the risks of egg donation when they are lured in for large sums of money.

Now, for the things she has got wrong. In spite of her assertion that reproductive technology should help people, she is quick to draw a list of the kind of people who shouldn't benefit from it. Apparently, she draws the line at same-sex parents, single-by-choice mothers and fathers, and women old enough to be grandmothers. It's not clear as to why she thinks they are unsuitable of parenthood. For someone who insists heavily on statistics and scientific studies, she should have done better than to merely quote a Stanford law professor that within the next fifty years the majority of babies will be made in the lab (being an academic myself I tend to view all such assertions that are not backed up by any kind of scientific evidence as rubbish). The claim that no one will want to leave their children's lives to nature's chance sounds like it has been taken straight out of the science fiction movie "Gattaca".

ginger candy said...

Secondly, she writes at length about the dangers of the alternative procedure to reproductive technology: surrogacy. She starts off by saying that surrogacy breeds a negative environment since mothers are not bonding with the children in their uteri. Given the complicated nature of this procedure, isn't it for the better that surrogate mothers do not form a bond with the child in her womb whom she has to give up within the next few months? Why is it a negative environment? The surrogate mother should surely know about these things beforehand, and should take pride in the fact that she has helped a needy couple in distress. The author also exhibits her disregard for wealthy couples who can afford surrogate mothers since "Surrogacy takes something as natural as a pregnant woman nurturing her unborn child and turns it into a contractual, commercialized endeavor." Again, I fail to see why this is necessarily bad. Clearly, the reason why these couples want surrogate mothers is because they can't do it themselves. Just because they can afford money does not prove that they will be bad parents in the future. In many cases, they can more than make up for nurturing their unborn child during the months of pregnancy by being exemplary parents in all aspects of child-rearing.

Finally, she asserts that natural biological reproduction is the only way to go. While I don't disagree with the fact that reproductive technology and surrogacy can be dangerous and exploitative, we should not forget that these procedures were originally invented for a good cause. It would help the author to open her mind up a little. Many gay parents are as good as, if not better, than straight parents. If she cites Elton John about this, I can cite Neil Patrick Harris on the contrary. We are living in an age where many social norms are getting challenged with each passing day. Perhaps it is time to think hard about some fundamental issues. For every claim that gays do not make for good parents, an equal claim can be made to show that heterosexuals can be disastrously bad as well; surely, parenting is more than just giving birth to a child. Her claim that children born out of surrogate mothers are 'losers' reeks of arrogance. Her steady insistence on only natural childbirth between straight people suggests she is sadly out of touch in this day and age.


Suvro Chatterjee said...

Given the profusion of comments here, I would rather not add anything of my own. But thanks, Soham and Joydeep. You tried.

ginger candy said...

Not even a brief rejoinder, Sir? I was really looking forward to reading your views on this subject.