Thursday, July 5, 2007

Being your daughter's sister

That's the parental/sibling role a woman could find herself in if one day she uses the eggs her mother froze for her. The daughter is only seven now, but she has a genetic disorder that almost ensures infertility. So her mom decided to pioneer something bold. And, of course, the way to report this is to drum up the ethical controversy. Take it away, ABC News.

"I have great concerns about this development," said Dr. Jeffrey L. Deaton, a reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of Premier Fertility Center in High Point, N.C.

"If the goal is to provide her with a family, why not make it less ethically challenging and consider either donor eggs or adoption? Our technology is progressing more rapidly than our ability to understand the social, ethical and religious ramifications."

While some are bothered by the development, most ethicists and fertility experts say such concerns are largely unwarranted.

"The dilemma of giving birth to one's genetic sister I think is overdone," said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"I suspect parents will adapt quickly, as do adoptive parents who raise their sister's kids, or even a younger sibling."

"Those who object would probably have objected to the invention of fire by mankind hundreds of thousands of years ago, and they definitely would have had moral problems … with [in-vitro fertilization] in general when these shocking new ideas first came upon the scene," said Dr. Sherman Silber, the medical director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis at St. Luke's Hospital.

I'm not sure what "religious ramifications" Dr. Deaton is speaking of. This, I do believe, would be an order without precedent. Further, historical examples of children being born to a sibling mostly came from a son or father's fornicating heart. Think about Faye Dunaway's famous scene from "Chinatown." ("She's my sister." Jake Gittes slaps her. "She's my daughter." Another slap. "My sister, my daughter." Slap, slap. Gittes, "I said I want the truth!" Dunaway, "She's my sister and my daughter!")

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