R. Star wrote:
I actually find it funny that we in the scifi community discuss these ethical issues to death, and when they come into the mainstream they don't even create more than a "huh".
I'm specifically thinking of some news stories on cloning, a few years ago, that generated no angst as far as the network news anchors were concerned. I recall one of them suggesting, when a cloning story was introduced, that "nothing will ever be the same again" and my heckle from the peanut gallery was... "sure it will... it will be the same over and over until the copies degrade beyond use."
Well... I'm being extreme.. I do remember back in the 90's how a family got some guff from the public by having another baby to save the life of their teenaged daughter who needed a transplant.
It's a good point you make, that the 'mainstream' wouldn't bother to think much on an issue like this, while we're going at it tooth and nail on our respective positions. To a lot of people the closest thing to an ethical dilemma on tv is who backstabbed who to win at the latest reality show. Nothing wrong with that, even if I find it disappointing at times.
Cloning... well sooner or later this will become practical to the point where we see it often enough and some sort of consensus regulating it will have to be reached.
I never heard of that case you cited in the 90's... and I gotta say I find that kind of disturbing. That second kid has as much of a right to live as the first to me. I can understand the desperation to save one's child... but at the same time, you're killing your own child to save one you just happen to like more. Ugh.. life is not something to be casually interchanged like a part in a car.
The case cited was dissected and discussed in my medical ethics class--it was current news at the time.
It involved a kid who needed a bone marrow transplant. Her parents conceived a child in the hope that the child would be a good match.
A bone marrow transplant uses a live donor. The risks are minimal to the donor, and primarily related to general anesthesia. The patient is put under, multiple taps are done into the iliac crests to harvest the marrow.
It is perfectly legal, as the parents have the right to make the decision for both children.
The ethical questions in that case came down more on the psychological effect on the donor child. What if the procedure didn't work and her sister died anyway? Would the circumstances of her birth change the way her parents viewed her? Would she be a child loved as much as the sibling or was she simply replacement parts?
An extract from The Lancet from 1997 follows up on a similar case in the UK in 1987. The final paragraph points to the biggest ethical question in these cases: when is the donor tested? The medical community overwhelming says to wait until after the child is born, not in utero, both because of risk to the fetus from the procedure, and because there are those who would abort the fetus if it wasn't a match.