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Is it Wrong to Reproduce if we Know it might Transmit Serious Disability? (Essay Sample)


The essay should be at least 1200 words long, about 4 pages. You will have some freedom here, but basically stay on topic for the most part. Non peer-reviewed material from the Internet is not a reliable source of information and should not be used. On the other hand, if you wish, outside material, e.g., from the Library, may be referred to, in which case I ask you to furnish a Bibliography. If you only use course texts, a Bibliography is not required. Arguments and interpretations should be supported with appropriate references to the course texts. Make sure you have a clear thesis, i.e., an unambiguous statement of the position you are defending, and that you provide arguments in support of it, showing awareness and sensitivity to opposing views; the most natural way to do this is to include a counter-argument.


Is it wrong to reproduce if we know that we might transmit a serious disability?
There are numerous differing views and opinions in regards to our responsibilities toward the future generation. Some call for total rejection in trying to influence and dictate the future; others think it is a noble course; still, it is not the right time to do it. Some support the idea, considering the medical and technological advances that continue to shape our daily lives. Regarding human welfare, the majority are of the idea that children deserve a better quality of life devoid of suffering. I oppose the thesis that it is morally wrong to conceive a person with the knowledge of passing on a deadly disease or disability leading to low quality of life.
In “Genetics and Reproductive Risk: Can Having Children Be Immoral?” Purdy argues that it is morally wrong to “reproduce when we know there is a high risk of transmitting a serious disease or defect.” She arrives at this conclusion on the premise that we must provide every child with a fulfilling life at a minimum. It raises the question, what is the minimal satisfying life? Purdy, in her views, considers health as the precondition for the minimal gratifying life (Purdy 116). On the contrary, humans need several things, especially basic needs: food, shelter, and water. Also, people need decent opportunities, meaningful relationships, appreciation, knowledge, pleasures, and valuable engagements. Therefore, it is morally wrong to deny bringing forth life-based on the health status when there are a variety of quality life determinants. Our endeavor should ensure that everyone has access to resources, capabilities, and opportunities to live a good life.
Disability in its entirety does not hinder a satisfying life going to the recent data and studies on families and children living with a disability. Purdy dwells on the lethal effects of Huntington’s disease to justify her case of prohibiting reproduction. Huntington is a hereditary disease that mainly affects the functioning of the brain. Its symptoms start to manifest at the age of 30 to 50 years and last for 15 years, culminating in death. A defective non-sex chromosome causes a 50 percent chance of passing the gene to the children (Purdy 117). According to Geneticists, 10 percent risk is on a higher side, but equally, there is a 50 percent chance that children born of affected parents may not inherit the disease. There is no essence of preventing people who have Huntington’s disease from reproducing when there is a probability that their offspring may escape from the disease. Further, it takes 30 to 50 years before the symptoms start manifesting, a period in which a person would have lived a good and healthy life. Therefore there is no justification to prohibit the conception of children at risk of contracting Huntington’s disease and all other lethal diseases.
Technological and medical advances should work in finding solutions to the existing problems confronting humanity. For instance, in HIV/AIDS, programs such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) have had positive outcomes in ensuring HIV-positive mother does not transmit HIV to their children. With the advent of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), people living with HIV can live a normal life with the same life expectancy as those without HIV. The probability of both parents living with HIV being able to conceive HIV-free children is equal to one. According to UNAIDS (2018), from 2010 to 2018, 1.4 million HIV transmissions have been prevented among children due to PMTCT programs. Scaling up such programs will ensure the complete elimination of mother-to-child transmission. It would amount to a denial of human rights to prevent people living with HIV from reproducing children with the fear of transmitting to them. Equally, children born with HIV can live longer thanks to the availability of effective ART.
The pre-elimination of genetic anomalies has gained prominence from prenatal screening. Advances in prenatal testing have enabled the discovery and identification of modern disease states and congenital disabilities or disabilities. Newborn and prenatal screening determines the genetic makeup of an individual. Predictive testing aids in the determination of genetic mutation, highlighting characteristics of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, sickle cell anemia, Down’s syndrome, phenylketonuria, and breast cancer. Discrimination based on genes has both ethical and moral implications. The atrocities committed in the 1900s in the US against the mentally challenged, like forced sterilization and mandatory testing for Sickle cell anemia among African Americans, infringe on individual rights and freedom, leading to discrimination. The ethical and moral dilemma of predictive genetic testing brings forth the question of the moral duty of the patient, physician, and the family when one is identified with a genetic disorder?
The question calls into consideration libertarianism and utilitarianism theories. Libertarians believe that the highest moral value is personal autonomy. It gives everyone the freedom to make informed personal decisions with the right to privacy. Libertarians abhor social stigmatization due to genetic disorders and believe in the right to live without stigmatism, discrimination, and fear. On the other hand, utilitarians believe that moral decisions should be based on the benefits and burden ratio to the society. Utilitarianism advances the well-being of society over an individual. Purdy holds the same notion of utilitarianism by suggesting that children born from parents with genetic anomalies create unnecessary happiness and, for some people, bring unfair disadvantage. Screening programs for newborns would benefit society when used to identify life-threatening conditions to initiate early treatment to avert adult disorders such as mental retardation.
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