Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Valid medical reasons

We can get ourselves into some curious ethical situations that would not have been possible fifty or even twenty years ago. We read in today's press for example that numbers of active male service personnel who have had their sperm frozen (presumably in case they are killed) unauthorised but at taxpayer's expense have had their sperm removed.
The policy is apparently that only those with genuine "assisted reproductive issues" can avail themselves of this facility. Apparently risk of death is not an "assisted reproductive issue".
One of the problems with reproductive ethics is that the issue are often resolved 'on the run', rather than dispassionately. While it is important to take context into account, it is also important that we not allow ourselves to be swayed in such sensitive areas by emotion alone.
The inevitable sadness we might feel at the death of a soldier, or at the disappointment of his parents at being denied grandchildren, or at a widow wanting a genetic reminder of her spouse are a very heavy circumstantial overlay to lay upon this debate.
I am also cautious about children being conceived with the expectation that they will not just be born into this world and (hopefully) allowed to thrive but also have to bear the added responsibility of representing a dead soldier, perhaps their father. To not just be a son or a daughter, but also have to be the constant living embodiment of a dead parent.
I am not, at this stage, I think, against the idea. I just think there is a discussion that needs to happen, which I have not particularly been aware of. And ti would be best if this was done at arm's length.
I would be interested in your comments.

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