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[P]
Disabled French Children Sue Doctors for Not Aborting Them

By catseye in News
Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 05:25:58 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

It may sound like a headline from the Weekly World News, but according to a Time magazine article, the families of three disabled French children were awarded compensation because doctors did not discover their children's disabilities in utero and give them the opportunity to abort.


...And I though USians were overly litigious. It seems we've got nothing on the French. According to the article, France's highest appeals court, the Cour de Cessation, ruled that "disabled children are entitled to be compensated if their mothers were not given a chance to abort a defective fetus." It is interesting to note that the courts have awarded damages not only for physical disabilities such as missing limbs and spinal deformities, but for mental retardation as well. The article goes on to about Nazis, eugenics, and worst case scenarios, and doctors advising abortion for the slightest abormality to reduce the risk of lawsuite, but I'm going to focus on one thing here: What are these parents THINKING?

I'm not going to question the motives of the attorneys. They're just acting on their natural instincts to debate and make money, regardless of ethics and common sense. I'm not really questioning the motives of the judges, either, since they were probably attorneys at one point. I'm not even questioning the motives of the parents. Human nature being what it is, the motive was probably greed. What I'm really questioning is the parents' judgement. When the children become old enough to ask about the lawsuit, what are the parents going to say? "We sued because you're defective and the doctor didn't tell us so that Mommy could have an abortion." Maybe they'd phrase it in a more politically correct way and sugar coat it, but that's what it really comes down to.

Yes, having the money is nice, and it will make it easier to raise a disabled child, but is it really worth it in the long run? What child (or adult for that matter) would not be devastated to learn that his parents think he should never have been born... that his parents feel that he should have been terminated at birth so strongly that they took the doctor to court... that it is permanently on record in public court documents that his parents wished they could have aborted him? It's cruel, and it will have consequences -- perhaps higher rates of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, crime, failure in school, and suicide among these children.

We expect attorneys to be greedy. We're not surprised when judges rule counter to common-sense. We expect parents to do what is in their children's best interests. The attorneys and judges in this case lived up to our expectations. The parents did not, and for this, shame on them.

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Disabled French Children Sue Doctors for Not Aborting Them | 83 comments (78 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.. (2.00 / 22) (#1)
by ignatiusst on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 11:42:52 AM EST

Its so nice to see US culture spreading to other parts of the world.

Now, if we can just get the French to accept Walt Disney we could all become one big global community.

hehe..

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Normally I would rate this down ... (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 06:54:50 PM EST

... as I do almost all slashdot-esque attempts at humor which end up becoming part of the background noise against which the signal is lost as a result of their sheer numbers, but in this one case you left me chuckling hard enough that I didn't have the heart.

Hence a "3" with the admonishment not to ever do it again (while trying to descreetly stifle my chuckles). :-)
--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]

At the risk of being completely tactless (3.57 / 19) (#2)
by ODiV on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 11:44:41 AM EST

Why didn't they just offer to do a post-partum abortion?

I mean really. The perfect answer to "Why didn't you kill us?" would be to offer to fix the situation. Of course then you'd get sued for death threats.

The world is a pretty messed up place.


--
[ odiv.net ]
The real risk wasn't being tactless (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by mattw on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:37:50 PM EST

The title is misleading, it wasn't children suing, it was their parents. The fact of abortion is that parents are able to decide whether their children should live or die, until they are born. Whether you agree or disagree with abortion, they lose that right to choose at the moment of birth, so post-partum killing is murder; not abortion.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
At the risk of being completely tactless (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by Rei on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 02:39:41 AM EST

If it had been the children I'd suggest just that. Why else has the term "retroactive birth control" been invented. As it haven't been the children I've got the suspicion they just found a way to make money.

[ Parent ]
In all honesty (4.51 / 29) (#6)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 12:20:55 PM EST

... while the outcry is understandable, it's also full of hyperbole. See this news report and this one for more objective, less alarmist, and better spelled articles than Lance Morrow's second-rate tripe.

The ruling of the cour de cassation (not cessation) is actually pretty simple:

Raising a heavily handicapped child can be emotionally, financially, and physically ruinous. Parents should be given the chance to choose whether or not they wish to go ahead with such a grave undertaking. Physicians are obligated to provide parents with accurate information on which to make such a decision. Should parents be denied the ability to make an informed choice, then compensation is expected.
Note that this means that
  • Doctors are not being penalized for failing to advise an abortion, they are being penalized for failing to diagnose a handicapped foetus correctly.
  • Handicapped children are not being compensated for being born, parents are compensated for being thrust into a difficult situation without any choice.
  • Physicians are not obliged to advise the parents to abort, they are obliged to inform the parents if the foetus has any defects. The decision to abort or not remains the sole prerogative of the parents. The physician has no say in it. He cannot be prosecuted if he diagnoses defects correctly and the parents still choose not to abort.
Outrage against this decision, in France and abroad, is based not so much on the specific illogic of the rulings themselves - they are in fact quite logical - but on the slippery slope argument: that this is the first step on the highway to eugenics. Be that as it may.

slippery slope is fallacious (4.00 / 3) (#7)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 01:20:21 PM EST

Outrage against this decision, in France and abroad, is based not so much on the specific illogic of the rulings themselves - they are in fact quite logical - but on the slippery slope argument: that this is the first step on the highway to eugenics.
If all the outrage is about the hypothetical slippery slope, it is utterly misguided. The slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy. Only if a step on the slope logically implies the next step, does the next step down follow from a prior step. And if a step logically implies the next step down, it's not really a slippery slope because the affirmation of the previous step actually entails the affirmation of the subsequent step.

Logic aside, I do think that much of the outrage is not based on the slippery slope. I think it is based on two things: perceived absurdity and abhorence of taking the life of a fetus.

The first of these should be somewhat obvious. Society has apparently gone from a doctor only being responsible for being negligent in extreme situations (such as in cases of provable criminal negligence) to being a deity responsible for just virtually everything that can happen during a tremendously complicated natural process such as pregnancy.

The second of these should also be somewhat obvious. Given that some people think that abortion is equivalent to murder, it should come as no surprise that those same people are outraged that that a parent sue a doctor for not giving the parent a chance to murder an child. Even if one does not subscribe to the pro-life point of view, it should be relatively easy to understand why pro-life people would be outraged.

All I can say, is that events like this greatly sadden me. Modern society is in a bad way indeed when parents are suing over issues like this. It wouldn't suprise me one to bit to hear of a lawsuit in the near future where if a genetic defect is traced to one parent or the other, the supplier of the genetic gene is sued. (Not that I'm alleging this lawsuit will lead to my hypothetical lawsuit, but rather that the prevailing mores of some segments of society that brought about this particular lawsuit could very well lead to my hypothetical lawsuit.)

I'm going to go mope now.

regards,

-l

[ Parent ]

What's wrong with that. (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:59:37 PM EST

if a genetic defect is traced to one parent or the other, the supplier of the genetic gene is sued
It seems to me that being able to sue your parents would provide a major disincentive against prospective parents producing children that may suffer from horrendous illnesses and disabilities. And that seems like a good thing to me - after all we spend a large part of our waking lives trying to find ways to make sure we don't ever suffer from such problems.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Logic vs. psychologic and the slippery slope (4.25 / 4) (#37)
by delmoi on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 11:30:12 PM EST

Well, the slippery slope may not be logical proof for anything in particular, but it most certainly is an observable phenomenon.

An experiment was done in California where people were asked to put big, ugly, and crudely made, signs telling people to buckle up in their yards. Very few people agreed (around one present). Another group of people was first asked to put a small, unobtrusive sign in their yards first. Many people accepted (almost all, I think). Of those that did, a much larger percentage (23%) was willing to.

Using pure logic on human behavior is almost completely ineffective.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
why slippery slope is irrelevant (none / 0) (#53)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 08:57:26 AM EST

An experiment was done in California where people were asked to put big, ugly, and crudely made, signs telling people to buckle up in their yards. Very few people agreed (around one present). Another group of people was first asked to put a small, unobtrusive sign in their yards first. Many people accepted (almost all, I think). Of those that did, a much larger percentage (23%) was willing to.
This phenomena may very well be real, but it is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Slippery slope tells us that if a person is asked to make a small step in a certain direction that they are more likely to agree to taking a larger step in a certain direction than they would have agreed to if they had not first taken the smaller step.

This doesn't matter unless one is contending that being asked to take the larger step is inevitable.

There is also a rather weighty argument to absurdity because if we consistently apply slippery slope reasoning to every proposed law or legal ruling, we could have none because every situation lies somewhere on some slippery slope.

regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

what? (4.00 / 3) (#48)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 03:01:32 AM EST

Modern society is in a bad way indeed when parents are suing over issues like this.

Issues like medical malpractice? Why on earth is it bad to sue a bungling doctor?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Was it malpractice? (none / 0) (#51)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 08:33:12 AM EST

The claim that this case was malpractice seems to be a stretch from my point of view. I'm not up on French law, but the implied claim in the suit, that a doctor has the responsibility to test for and report every possible birth defect, seems a bit problematic to me.

Now if the doctor ran some tests that clearly showed the presence of one or more birth defects and refused to report them to the parents, or if the doctor did not run standard tests that are reccomended by whatever professional organization makes such reccomendations in France, or if the doctor prescibed some course of treatment known to produce the type of birth defects exhibited by the children, then I'll gladly admit that malpractice ensued.

However, from my (rather limited) understanding of the case, none of the above mentioned eventualities occurred. It appears to me to be just another case of people upset with the cards delt to them by life and attempting to profiteer off a baseless legal action.

I'll gladly admit I could be wrong.

Regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

In the opinion of the court ... (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 09:05:42 AM EST

... it was. It's in the link I posted in my top-level comment. Since people apparently don't follow links I'll reproduce the relevant text, if you promise you won't tell the BBC.
Nicolas Perruche was born deaf, part-blind and with mental disabilities in 1983 after a doctor and a medical laboratory failed to realise that his mother had caught rubella, also called German measles, during her pregnancy.

His parents, Josette and Christian Perruche, said the failure to diagnose the disease damaged their child in the womb and stopped them from opting for abortion.

The courts had already decided doctors were at fault. Medical staff incorrectly believed that she had already been immunised against rubella.

To which I add, a paragraph from another article on the case, which might shed some light:
At the time, she told doctors that if she caught the disease from her daughter, she wanted an abortion
All in all, not a very remarkable ruling in and of itself. While one may disagree with or find fault with the ruling, it's not a particularly blatant example of a miscarriage of justice, and the decision of the judges is in all objectivity at least understandable. (Though I must say that the compensation awarded, about $12,000 per month, seems excessive).

It's the possible consequences of the ruling, and most of all the spin set on the ruling by various interested third parties, that make the case interesting. All kinds of tie-ins and links to eugenics, euthanasia, Nazi-ism, and general French idiocy have been suggested. Does the case, by itself, warrant that? You decide.

[ Parent ]

I stand corrected (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 09:10:48 AM EST

Next time, though, make it easy on lazy blokes like myself.

You don't have to quote the BBC, but mentioning little facts like the french court deciding that malpractice did occur do bolster your side of the dialogue. . . .

And to think that someone I was trading posts with on kuro5hin last week had trouble with my assertion that I'm frequently wrong . . .

regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

compensation (4.00 / 4) (#8)
by ODiV on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 02:04:16 PM EST

Handicapped children are not being compensated for being born

Then why does it say everywhere that it is the child that is receiving compensation and not the parents? And why does every news source (including the ones you pointed to) tell us that this is indeed compensation for being born?


--
[ odiv.net ]
[ Parent ]
Rhetoric ... (3.80 / 5) (#14)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 06:01:48 PM EST

... I'm not going to call your comment stupid, because it isn't really, but a few minutes of careful thought should convince you that
  • A heavily handicapped or retarded child isn't going to be managing that money himself.
  • Monetary compensation is meant, among other things, for care of the child itself: it makes sense to couple the money to the child and not specifically to the parents. Divorces happen; guardians can change; parents can die; handicapped children can get moved to institutions.
  • By way of analogy: child support, also common in France, is coupled to a particular child, but paid oyut to the parents or guardians. (So if your child dies, is adopted, emigrates etc, the parents stop getting child support).
Convinced? Or was it an argument for argument's sake?

[ Parent ]
Medicine ain't perfect (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by FlightTest on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 02:26:54 PM EST

Doctors are not being penalized for failing to advise an abortion, they are being penalized for failing to diagnose a handicapped foetus correctly.

If only it were that simple. The tests for "developmental difficulties" are marginal at best. Children have been born with Downs Syndrome after tests failed to reveal it. Children whose tests have showed Downs have been born without it. Even physical deformities can be masked by shadows in an ultrasound. About the only thing you can be sure of is if amneosentesis (mangled spelling, sorry) show the child will be a boy, it will be a boy. Other than that, all bets are off. And how do you propose to test for learning disabilities?

Many of the tests that can be performed in utero are not without risk to the unborn child. Many people choose not to have these tests done specifically because of the risks. There is only so much one can do to "examine" a child in utero to determine if it has any number of birth defects, without substansial risk to the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is already high-risk due to other factors, the doctors may be even more reluctant.

Handicapped children are not being compensated for being born, parents are compensated for being thrust into a difficult situation without any choice.

Sorry, the parents had a choice. It's called birth control. If you don't want to accept the risk of having a handicapped child, don't have children. Children do not come with guarantees.

Physicians are not obliged to advise the parents to abort, they are obliged to inform the parents if the foetus has any defects. The decision to abort or not remains the sole prerogative of the parents. The physician has no say in it. He cannot be prosecuted if he diagnoses defects correctly and the parents still choose not to abort

See point one above. People need to accept the fact that the doctor can perform the diagnosis "correctly" and still be wrong. Doctors are guilty of making us believe they have all the answers, and we're guilty of believe that line of manure.

This is not a "logical" finding. This is a finding that shows enormous ignorance of the realities of medicine.



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]
Medicine ain't perfect (4.27 / 11) (#10)
by FlightTest on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 02:32:55 PM EST

Doctors are not being penalized for failing to advise an abortion, they are being penalized for failing to diagnose a handicapped foetus correctly.

If only it were that simple. The tests for "developmental difficulties" are marginal at best. Children have been born with Downs Syndrome after tests failed to reveal it. Children whose tests have showed Downs have been born without it. Even physical deformities can be masked by shadows in an ultrasound. About the only thing you can be sure of is if amneosentesis (mangled spelling, sorry) show the child will be a boy, it will be a boy. Other than that, all bets are off. And how do you propose to test for learning disabilities?

Many of the tests that can be performed in utero are not without risk to the unborn child. Many people choose not to have these tests done specifically because of the risks. There is only so much one can do to "examine" a child in utero to determine if it has any number of birth defects, without substansial risk to the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is already high-risk due to other factors, the doctors may be even more reluctant.

Handicapped children are not being compensated for being born, parents are compensated for being thrust into a difficult situation without any choice.

Sorry, the parents had a choice. It's called birth control. If you don't want to accept the risk of having a handicapped child, don't have children. Children do not come with guarantees.

Physicians are not obliged to advise the parents to abort, they are obliged to inform the parents if the foetus has any defects. The decision to abort or not remains the sole prerogative of the parents. The physician has no say in it. He cannot be prosecuted if he diagnoses defects correctly and the parents still choose not to abort

See point one above. People need to accept the fact that the doctor can perform the diagnosis "correctly" and still be wrong. Doctors are guilty of making us believe they have all the answers, and we're guilty of believe that line of manure.

This is not a "logical" finding. This is a finding that shows enormous ignorance of the realities of medicine.



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]
Refutations ... (4.40 / 5) (#16)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 06:18:06 PM EST

While your comments are not without merit, and indeed form the basis of some opposition to the new rulings, I must point a few things out:

If only it were that simple. The tests for "developmental difficulties" are marginal at best.

The ruling was not a blanket ruling. At best, it paves the way for more of such rulings. French parliament has passed no law making such tests mandatory. The ruling does make the risk of similar cases in the future very real. That's what worries the doctors. However, until a law is passed, all such lawsuits must be fought on a case-by-case basis. This gives prosecution and defence ample time to investigate arguments such as yours as it applies to the specific lawsuit.

Sorry, the parents had a choice. It's called birth control. If you don't want to accept the risk of having a handicapped child, don't have children. Children do not come with guarantees.

US attitudes may differ, but in France the choices are wider than simply: (1) accept the risk of handicap, or (2) don't have children. The third option is called (3) "abortion". "Abortion" is a medical procedure whereby a foetus is terminated (love that euphemism :-), usually within the first twenty weeks of pregnancy. Your religious or moral leanings may make (3) unacceptable. That's fine, but others think differently about abortion. Since I don't want to get into a pro-life/pro-choice debate I wont push this any further.

This is not a "logical" finding. This is a finding that shows enormous ignorance of the realities of medicine.

Obviously you have studied the details of this particular case (because it was a specific ruling, not a general law) better than the presiding judges themselves. To that I have no rebuttal, other than to say: it's nice that there are so many smart, informed people on k5.

[ Parent ]

Some good points (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by FlightTest on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 09:15:41 PM EST

The ruling was not a blanket ruling. At best, it paves the way for more of such rulings. French parliament has passed no law making such tests mandatory. The ruling does make the risk of similar cases in the future very real. That's what worries the doctors. However, until a law is passed, all such lawsuits must be fought on a case-by-case basis. This gives prosecution and defence ample time to investigate arguments such as yours as it applies to the specific lawsuit.

If it were true that this only affects this one case, then the doctors would have no more to worry about than they did before the ruling. But the case shows the way the courts are thinking, and as you say, makes the risk of similar cases very real. I would go so far as to use the word "inevitable". "Single cases" have a way of influencing "general law". No judgement occurs in a vacuum.

US attitudes may differ, but in France the choices are wider than simply: (1) accept the risk of handicap, or (2) don't have children. The third option is called (3) "abortion". "Abortion" is a medical procedure whereby a foetus is terminated (love that euphemism :-), usually within the first twenty weeks of pregnancy. Your religious or moral leanings may make (3) unacceptable. That's fine, but others think differently about abortion. Since I don't want to get into a pro-life/pro-choice debate I wont push this any further.

I don't wish to debate it either, mainly because I am quite undecided on the subject of abortion myself. I can see both sides and my main sticking point is where do you declare a fetus to be human and therefore afforded "human rights"?

But to your point.

Obviously you have studied the details of this particular case (because it was a specific ruling, not a general law) better than the presiding judges themselves. To that I have no rebuttal, other than to say: it's nice that there are so many smart, informed people on k5.

Excellent point. I would point out that your original claim that the decision was in fact logical rests upon the same shakey ground as my declaring it illogical. Clearly, you must have throughly studied this case to come to the conclusion that the decison was logical. From your original post, the ruling states;

Raising a heavily handicapped child can be emotionally, financially, and physically ruinous. Parents should be given the chance to choose whether or not they wish to go ahead with such a grave undertaking. Physicians are obligated to provide parents with accurate information on which to make such a decision. Should parents be denied the ability to make an informed choice, then compensation is expected.
I base my claim that "This is not a "logical" finding. This is a finding that shows enormous ignorance of the realities of medicine" upon the requirement of physicians to provide accurate information, apparently without regard for the fact that physicians can make no more than highly educated guesses. It would seem the presiding judges have also bought the lie that medicine is an exact science. Were that it was so.



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]
Sometimes it's obvious (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by AndyL on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 02:18:15 AM EST

I don't know the specifics of this case, But It seems to me that they probably got expert witnesses to tell them that the ultrasounds and various other tests(which they would still have on record and be able to present as evidence) pointed to an obvious problem that any competent doctor would have spoted.

If that's the case then the limits of modern medicine shouldn't really enter in to it, should it? I know medicine can't predict everything, but shouldn't the doctor have been able to count up the limbs?

-Andy

[ Parent ]

Actually, children come with limited guarantees. (2.75 / 4) (#26)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:36:16 PM EST

Children do not come with guarantees.
Only because you say so. If you choose to abort a foetus you aren't 100% happy with then you effectively have a guarantee. I think you meant to say "I don't like the idea of children coming with guarantees".
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Actually (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by FlightTest on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:54:07 PM EST

In point of fact, I have no opinion on abortion. There seem to be two conflicting rights here, the rights of the mother, and the rights of the unborn child. At what point does a fetus become a human and therefore subject to protection as such? I dunno, so I have no real opinion, other than "it's a complicated situation".

To respond to your point, no, there still is no guarantee. There is no guarantee that a woman is not aborting a perfectly fine child because she has been given erroneous information, even if said information is provided with the best knowlege available.

Or, I could be pedantic and say "ah, the FETUS comes with limited-time guarantee, the CHILD has no guarantee." But I'm not 100% certain that a child is only defined as a fetus that has been born, so I won't be pedantic.



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 09:12:05 PM EST

To respond to your point, no, there still is no guarantee
Well there is a severely limited guarantee and as technology improves it will get better and better. I apologise. I misinterpreted your "children don't come with guarantees" as something other than a plain statement of fact. It's the sort of line that an anti-abortionist might say as if it were a pronouncement by God and then proceed to deduce from it that abortion is wrong.

At what point does a fetus become a human and therefore subject to protection as such? I dunno, so I have no real opinion, other than "it's a complicated situation".
Out of curiosity, if it's not a dumb sounding question - where does the complication for you lie? Is determining when a foetus is human an issue of biology (eg. it's complex to determine when the nervous system is formed 'enough'), religion (it's complex to determine just when the soul arrives), society (it's complex to reconcile all of these different groups of people) or something else?
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Not a dumb question (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by FlightTest on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 09:53:41 PM EST

Out of curiosity, if it's not a dumb sounding question - where does the complication for you lie? Is determining when a foetus is human an issue of biology (eg. it's complex to determine when the nervous system is formed 'enough'), religion (it's complex to determine just when the soul arrives), society (it's complex to reconcile all of these different groups of people) or something else?

While I believe in a "supreme entity", I long ago gave up on man's construct called "religion". But even my views on a "supreme entity" do not really affect this issue.

I guess you'd have to say biological, though more complex than just the nervous system. When is the fetus "aware"? I'm grapling with the question of whether survivability outside the womb makes any difference. Who gets to determine "survivability" anyway? That's more wild guessing and hand waving. Does the presence of a heartbeat make it a separate life, and therefore entitled to protection? And what will new technology bring? Once the ability to create an artificial womb exists, then what? Do you require women who want abortions to have the fetus removed and "grown" in a an artificial uterus? And who is responsible for such a child?

I balance these questions with the rights of the mother. I feel deeply for women who have been victims of sexual assualt. But, if I conclude that the fetus is a human being, and that therefore killing that fetus is murder, it cannot matter how that life was concieved. Murdering a human because that human came about as a result of a crime is no less murder. Therefore, women who become impregnated due to sexual assualt must be forced to carry the fetus to term. I'm very reluctant to come to that conclusion.

Although I certainly have no interest in reconciling everyone's views, the conflicts in law do bother me. A woman can have an abortion, but if an assilant kills the fetus, he's often charged with murder of the fetus. That's a bit of a double standard, I think. I sincerly believe that if you are going to allow abortion, then you are saying the fetus is not a human. Therefore, the killing of the fetus by an assilant cannot be murder. It may be some other crime, much in the same way killing a dog or cat is a crime, but it is not murder.

So-called "partial-birth abortions" are quite troubling to me. The rehtoric is so crazy on both sides that an objective stance is difficult. But I admit to trouble seeing the difference between this procedure and simply birthing the child all the way and killing it then.

Maybe this is all more than you wanted to know. But it's all a part of my feelings about abortion.



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]
This is maybe neither here nor there... (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by flimflam on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 10:37:09 AM EST

but since the conversation is headed in that direction...

My wife was always against abortion. She's from central america, raised a Catholic. The thing that changed her mind, interestingly enough, was getting pregnant. At no time did she (or I) consider abortion -- we got pregnant on purpose and were looking forward to having a baby. I can honestly say that we both loved the baby as soon as we knew it existed (and still do now that she's 2 months old, I might add!)

However as she suffered through her pregnancy (she had a very difficult one) she began to think about what it would be like for someone who didn't want their baby. Even she felt resentful sometimes -- resentful for being sick, for not being able to eat what she wanted, not being able to sleep, etc.... a woman who got pregnant by accident and didn't want the baby must really develop almost a hatred of the thing that seems like has ruined her life. And it certainly wouldn't get better after birth -- you end up with a being that is utterly dependant on you -- needs you to feed it in the middle of the night, needs almost constant attention.
She came to the conclusion that forcing this situation on either the mother or the baby would be cruel, that it would be better for all involved to just end things before everyone has to suffer.

I found it interesting and surprising that pregnancy would change her mind. Perhaps this is common, I don't know. BTW -- I've always been pro-choice, though beyond a period when we first met I've really avoided trying to persuade her on that issue.

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Interesting (none / 0) (#79)
by SIGFPE on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:06:20 PM EST

A woman can have an abortion, but if an assilant kills the fetus, he's often charged with murder of the fetus.
Well that's new in the US and if it seems contradictory it's because the bill was introduced deliberately to be contradictory.

I am bothered by very late term abortions but it's very difficult not to be completely polarised in this debate. I think it is 100% correct to point out that there is a sliding scale from abortion to infanticide. However I still think you can make a distinction. I'm not 100% sure what to make of partial-birth abortions because I have no idea at what stage they are carried out.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]

Right. (2.66 / 3) (#40)
by rakslice on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 12:38:30 AM EST

"Sorry, the parents had a choice. It's called birth control. If you don't want to accept the risk of having a handicapped child, don't have children. Children do not come with guarantees."

Indeed. And birth control (quite literally) includes abortion.

(Hint: Pro-lifers with IUDs really annoy me. =)

Suppose that a genetic study of the parents, performed before conception, had similarly turned up a strong likelyhood of them producing a child with the abnormalities being tested for. Suppose also that the doctor failed to inform them of this for whatever reason. Wouldn't we then have an essentially identical case of doctor negligence, whether or not the pregnancy had been successful?



[ Parent ]
Fascinating (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by FlightTest on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 01:37:16 AM EST

Maybe I'm being overly sensative here, but it seems from your message that you are presuiming I'm anti-abortion. If you are not, then I apologize, I misread your message. If you are, that's three for three. And if you've read any of my other responses you'd know I'm very ambivalent as to my position on abortion.

Suppose that a genetic study of the parents, performed before conception, had similarly turned up a strong likelyhood of them producing a child with the abnormalities being tested for. Suppose also that the doctor failed to inform them of this for whatever reason. Wouldn't we then have an essentially identical case of doctor negligence, whether or not the pregnancy had been successful?

There are plenty of straw men to go around; Suppose this test cost thousands of dollars. Suppose the parents can't afford it and therefore it isn't done. Same result: the doctor is negligent for not performing the test because he knew genetic problems were a possibility. Aren't you creating a requirement to perform every single known test on every single couple that might want to concieve? And a requirement to perform every single known test on every single fetus? After all, wouldn't it be negligent of the doctor not to perform these tests?



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]
you know very little, it seems (2.00 / 3) (#47)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 02:58:56 AM EST

The tests for "developmental difficulties" are marginal at best

They aren't. They quite simply aren't. Nuchal scans are not reliable as positive indicators, which is why they indicate further testing, but as indicators of low risk, even they work well.

About the only thing you can be sure of is if amneosentesis (mangled spelling, sorry) show the child will be a boy, it will be a boy

See, this is what clued me in that you don't know what you're talking about. You can see a baby's penis on an ultrasound scan. What the hell has amniocentesis got to do with it?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Damn, (none / 0) (#83)
by FlightTest on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:59:23 PM EST

Here it is four months later. Wish I had seen this when you posted. Doubt you'll ever run across this, but for anyone who might see this now;

See, this is what clued me in that you don't know what you're talking about. You can see a baby's penis on an ultrasound scan. What the hell has amniocentesis got to do with it?
Well, now I know for sure which one of us doesn't know what he's talking about. My wife used to work for an Ob/Gyn, and they had several patients who were suprised (both ways) because what they were told on the basis of ultrasound isn't what they got. There was more than one hospital involved, so you can't chalk it up to one incomptent operator. Ultrasound ain't a Kodak moment. There's shadows, there's techniqe. There's kids that seem to do thier damnest to not get imaged properly.

What amniocentesis has to do with it is, if you do it and it says it's a girl, you may have got cells from mom. So the only way to know for sure is if the amnio says boy, at least until men start having babies. At least, that's the Ob/Gyn told my wife. I certainly hope he knew what he was talking about.

Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
[ Parent ]

Jumping to conclusions... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by dgood on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:16:26 PM EST

I think a couple of things bear repeating:

  • Doctors are not being penalized for failing to advise an abortion, they are being penalized for failing to diagnose a handicapped foetus correctly.
  • Handicapped children are not being compensated for being born, parents are compensated for being thrust into a difficult situation without any choice.
It is entirely possible that the some or all of the parents in question would have had these children even if the doctor had given them a proper diagnosis. They may only be suing because they were never given a choice. Implying that the parents wish their children had never been born is, to say the least, jumping to conclusions.

[ Parent ]
Queue Nazis? (3.14 / 7) (#13)
by Sheepdot on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 05:58:38 PM EST

I'm actually quite surprised this made it through the queue. Usually I see complaints about titles not matching the actual story, and I cannot imagine how this made it through with the title being so horribly misleading.

I have no way of knowing, but I am going to make the assumption that none of the children are over the age of 10. If this is the case, the children themselves didn't argue in court, the parents did.

As k5 is slowly starting to realize, parents can be idiots too. These last two FP stories are good examples.

Also note, I feel the parents probably should have been notified by the doctor, especially if French law requires that a doctor explain the "downfalls" that an unborn child has. Or if the parents paid the doctor on the stipulation that he/she would give them that information.

By failing to have the information, the parents now have a defective child to maintain, and that costs money. Please pass on the pathos responses to my use of "defective child", I'm not going to respond to them as that is clearly what these parents consider the child.

The idiocy of the parents comes in when they now plan on taking care of said child. If they think the child is defective, it would be more of a punishment, if that child was now the responsibility of the doctor who failed to communicate the information that the parents paid or (under French law) were entitled to have.

So while they now have the money to take care of their child, they have to live with relatives and friends of their family knowing that they really don't want the child. The child itself may never be able to comprehend that its parents didn't want it.

But my biggest concern here is: Where were the queue Nazi's when this story was getting voted +1 FP like mad?


Secret's out of the bag (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 06:31:11 PM EST

So while they now have the money to take care of their child, they have to live with relatives and friends of their family knowing that they really don't want the child.

As opposed to what, living with friends and relatives knowing they didn't really want the child, but without any money to take care of their child?

But my biggest concern here is: Where were the queue Nazi's when this story was getting voted +1 FP like mad?

I dunno ... seems to me that k5 has been unusually quite of late. So many luminaries gone, or less active than usual. Summer blues? It's nice to see people like yourself and Lee Malatesta back and posting regularly again.

[ Parent ]

Actually summer is why I'm back.. (none / 0) (#19)
by Sheepdot on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:03:41 PM EST

<I>As opposed to what, living with friends and relatives knowing they didn't really want the child, but without any money to take care of their child? </i>

<P>I see your point, either way they really aren't living satisfiably.

<P>College ended once again for a while, so I have time to stop by k5 and post. I most certainly haven't had the time to rate everything that seem to flow right through the queue.

<P>In other words, the best time to submit a story that you know I'll -1 is morning or midday during the week, where it will fly through the queue so fast I'll never see it. So be sure to post then.

I imagine once school starts up again I'll be browsing on k5 less and less. And when I move here August 1st I'll be without DSL for a while, long enough to not be getting online. To me, 56K is too much of a hassle than the 15 day wait for DSL in our area.


[ Parent ]
God, I'm a fucking idiot. (none / 0) (#21)
by Sheepdot on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:06:26 PM EST

I can't even manage to write html completely, let alone post using HTML even after I've hit the "preview" button and looked dead on at the mistakes I made. Christ, I'm a fucking moron.

Sorry for the language, but sometimes I get really pissed at myself and need to have a record of my idiocy laid out for me.


[ Parent ]
idiocy for the ages (none / 0) (#22)
by khallow on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:51:46 PM EST

Sorry for the language, but sometimes I get really pissed at myself and need to have a record of my idiocy laid out for me.

Don't worry, this record will be around forever. :-P I hope it doesn't end up framed in a museum. Because they'll probably include all the replies. ;-)

[ Parent ]

I noticed this anomoly with another story as well (none / 0) (#20)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:05:15 PM EST

But my biggest concern here is: Where were the queue Nazi's when this story was getting voted +1 FP like mad?

I am not saying this is the case with this story -- I don't know one way or the other and found the content sufficiently on paar with K5 in general as to not set any alarms off. However, in another story which was voted absurdly fast to the front page I did point this out (or perhaps affirm another's concerns would be more accurate). Of course, I was immediately denounced as something akin to a net conspiracy nut. Ironically, the very denouncer admitted to taking part in exactly the type of concerted vote-loading I had suggested might be taking place, with the coordination taking place on the #kuro5hin IRC channel. So in at least one instance what you imply did in fact happen, and was confirmed by one of the participants (at least as confirmed as anything in this context can be).

Go figure.
--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]

Defective child (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by driftingwalrus on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 09:01:37 PM EST

I find the phrase "defective child" strikes an unusual response. Reminds me of, "Sir, I have purchased a defective vehicle and would like to return it."

"Sir, I have been given a defective child, and under warranty protection against defect in workmanship I wish to return it in exchange for a fully-fuctional child."


"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
[ Parent ]
I look at it like this (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by Sheepdot on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 11:21:51 PM EST

My first reaction to this story was, "What the hell is up with these parents? Are they admitting their kid is a burden and they don't care for it?"

Then I got to thinking why they really aren't at fault for believing that way. I mean, think about it:

Jack goes to a financial advisor for advice on taking out a car loan for a POS vehicle with his crappy 20K per year wages. He has had a history of missing payments but really wants the car, and the financial advisor says, "Go for it" knowing that if he says anything else it will upset Jack.

Wouldn't it have just been better for him to do his job and say, "Listen you retarded fuck, you've been late on your damn house payments, have 2 credit agencies after you, missed all of the times you were supposed to pay child support, and yet you pay me to get 'reassuring support' for a car loan? Get a fucking clue!".

Personally, I think that would be an eye opener. So what if the jerk doesn't want to pay the financial advisor for the obvious, he most likely isn't going to get Jack's business again, and in this sue-happy world, it'd probably be better for the financial advisor in the long-run to be honest and give Jack the "service" that a financial advisor should. After all, you know he's just going to keep fucking up with his finances till he realizes what he's been doing.

Now consider the parents coming into a health clinic or hospital. The doctor may notice a malformity in the unborn child, and not mention anything about it to the parents, who have tried every damn month over the last 3 years to have a kid.

Sure, its hard to say, "Listen dad, you've got some screwy sperm and the kid is messed up. I'm sorry, but you have the choice of aborting this one and trying for another." It is *really* hard to say that, especially if the parents are pro-life, but if they are coming to you for your *services*, you gotta be honest. It's what they are paying you for.

What I honestly think happened is that the doctors in these cases may not have known about malformities, even though the parents had paid for them to check the health of the unborn fully. In this instance, the doctor is liable as well. You get paid for a service, you better damn well do your job and do it right.

I have to do my job right in the tech industry, so I can't imagine why it'd be any different for any other industry.

There is also the possibility that the doctors weren't paid to check for malformities, and the parents won just because the judge was an idiot. I sure hope that wasn't the case here, but who knows, maybe it was. France has some pretty screwed up labor laws, so maybe it has some other laws that are rather ridiculous as well.

I liked this submission, just didn't think the title matched the article, I would have voted 0 and requested a re-write with a "fixed" title. But it still would have probably gotten submitted. I guess I'm not too horribly upset.


[ Parent ]
ruinous? (2.70 / 10) (#15)
by sombragris on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 06:15:56 PM EST

To raise any children, whether they're "normal" or not, can be ruinous for any father or mother. The physical and emotional burden of it can be taxing... but you cannot sue the government for that.

Excuse me, but the ruling speaks of extreme stupidity from both judges and plaintiffs. They do not have power over any other living human being -born or not- and they do not have any moral choice or right to decide the viability of it. I wonder what would be the intra-uterus diagnosis for, let's say, Beethoven or Mendelsohn?

Additionally, the murderers, er, parents, could just turn their deffective children to foster care if they wanted to do so. But no, they demand the murder. Go figure...

Um (3.50 / 6) (#35)
by delmoi on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 10:19:41 PM EST

They do not have power over any other living human being -born or not- and they do not have any moral choice or right to decide the viability of it.

Lots of people have power over lots of other people. Just becacuse you don't like that fact dosn't mean it isn't true.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
abortion, ethics, eugenics...oh my! (4.00 / 9) (#24)
by mattw on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:31:30 PM EST

Eugenics: n. (used with a sing. verb)

The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.


Is eugenics wrong? You can't compare eugenics to genocide. They are not the same, or even similar. Eugenics is not "improvement of the human race through selective execution". I think most people would also concur that producing the "controlled selective breeding" in the definition by restricting who is allowed to breed would also be wrong. But if people can, say, create many embryos and only implant the best of them, or can abort unwanted fetuses that don't meet their criteria, is that wrong? How about the genetic modification of an embryo or the sperm and egg, before fertilization, to produce desired characteristics? I'm hard pressed to find a reason to declare it immoral. Dangerous? Maybe. Does it have potentially severe sociological consequences? perhaps. But you can't say it is immoral because we should let nature take its course. We provide women with hormone supplements, prenatal vitamins, and a host of other things to affect the outcome of pregnancy and the resulting baby.

Is abortion wrong? This is too long of a discussion for this article, and I'm sure almost all of the readership of K5 has been involved in an abortion debate at some time or another. However, the question of this case is intimately tied to your answer to the question, so bear it in mind.

If you answered "no" to the questions above, then you shouldn't find this case offensive or wrong-headed. You should see it as simple malpractice. Granted, I'm not sure how you explain to a child that he didn't have an inherent right to live until he was born (or whatever metric France uses for the legality of abortion), or that you may have taken advantage of his lack of legal personhood to stop him from being born, but that doesn't really affect the ethics involved.

I'd wager that the majority of the belief that this ruling is counterintuitive stems from moral dissonance over abortion. If you believe abortion is absolutely wrong, this ruling will seem wrong simply because of that, but not strange per se. If you believe abortion is absolutely normal, the situation may seem awkward, but the decision should seem perfectly ethical. But if you accept abortion as one of the many abortion agnostics ("I would never do it, but I wouldn't want to tell other people what's right for them"), or if you're unsure about the morality of abortion but accepted its legality for reasons of expediency, then this ruling may challenge you, because you may have inconsistent beliefs in your moral system, and that may make this ruling seem very counterintuitive.

This is certainly a minefield for any moral absolutist.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
Most people are wrong. (4.00 / 3) (#39)
by Inoshiro on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 12:19:10 AM EST

"I think most people would also concur that producing the "controlled selective breeding" in the definition by restricting who is allowed to breed would also be wrong. "

And most people are wrong. Thanks to eugenics, we have better farm animals that produce more and better foods. Wheats which resist blights that would have otherwise caused large famines. My domestic cats are products of euginics, as are many other pets. So why is it bad? Why do people get so uppity about breeding "rights" ?

Because they are too stupid to differentiate between the instinct to procreate, and a real need to procreate. And because, like any tool, eugenics can be misused.

There are plenty of people who can't handle the responsibility of breeding, yet we have no universal laws restricting it to responsible people. Yet we have laws restricting driving, hunting, gun ownership, etc.

Would you argue that people should be allowed to drive without a licence because it's very inconvienent to get around without a car? Yet most people demand the "right" to have as many children as they can pump out, and have society support their offspring.

Eugenics Eu*gen"ics, n.
The science of improving stock, whether human or animal. --F. Galton.

The only thing we have to do is set down proper laws dictating what is improvement. From there, we can continue the evolution to being a better species. It's just like genetic engineering, except that it takes a lot longer to get results.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
It's _not quite_ like genetic engineering... (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by psyclone on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 02:46:24 AM EST

"It's just like genetic engineering, except that it takes a lot longer to get results."

It may have the same result as eugenics, but they're not quite the same. I agree that eugenics is an interesting and logical concept for a species such as ours. However, genetic engineering may have vastly greater consequences (both 'good' and ' bad').

Genetic engineering deals with physically modifying the genes, yet eugenics follow the so called "natural" path.

[ Parent ]

alert (1.00 / 1) (#46)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 02:53:13 AM EST

Why do people get so uppity about breeding "rights" ?

Because they are too stupid to differentiate between the instinct to procreate, and a real need to procreate. And because, like any tool, eugenics can be misused.

There are plenty of people who can't handle the responsibility of breeding, yet we have no universal laws restricting it to responsible people. Yet we have laws restricting driving, hunting, gun ownership, etc.

What's the betting I can come up with a "free speech" quote that makes you look like a huge great big hypocrite?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Thy name is Polyanna (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 08:45:37 AM EST

Thanks to eugenics, we have better farm animals that produce more and better foods. Wheats which resist blights that would have otherwise caused large famines. My domestic cats are products of euginics, as are many other pets. So why is it bad?
I'll gladly grant that selective breeding has produced some great agricultural products. But those products have come with a price. Most modern crops are actually more sensitive to a large number of blights because of the genetic homogenity of modern seed. In an environment where the blights can be controlled by chemical and biological agents, this is not such a big disadvantage. In other areas of the world, the native low-yield crops make much more sense because they are more diversified and, hence, more resistant to a wider variety of plagues.

The same goes for animals. Selective breeding of purebread pets has led to several generations of animals with a large array of defects. As for livestock, I contend that the older, lower yield, unspecialized cows that were once raised provided better meat with a lower environmental impact. But the yield isn't as large as today's specialized dairy or beef cows, so they are allowed to go by the wayside and the nations beef and dairy farmers must use an every increasing array of drugs to fight off disease that past generations of animals were more resistant to.

like any tool, eugenics can be misused
Exactly, and some people (like myself, just call me Cassandra) doubt that society has gotten to the point where it can make intelligent and mature decisions regarding selective breeding of animals and placts, let alone about selectively breeding our species.

Regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

Thank you. (none / 0) (#76)
by Inoshiro on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 02:50:51 AM EST

Yours is the first comment I've read which has actually stated the true possible problems with a scheme like I proposed. I salute you.

However, I think we can address it. I'm not saying we should develop a mono culture. I'm only saying that people who have genetic disease not breed. Or use retroviruses to eliminate the diseases. Naturally, I'll want to have a bank of their DNA (and clone it for medical testing versus potential health problems). Then the problem is dodged.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
You could be correct (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:08:36 AM EST

Perhaps we can address the problem, the short-sightedness of society at large and medical scientists in particular, but I remain pessimistic due to (1) my view of human nature and (2) the complexity involved.

For example, if we eliminate the genes that cause sickle-celled anemia, we also eliminate the genes that confer resistance to malaria. Perhaps this a genetic work-around to this, but I find it not only possible, but quite probable that many genetic "defects" contain within them genetic positive attributes. I find it doubtful that, in anything close to our present state of forethought and medical ethics, we as a society will not eliminate important portions of our gene pool in the quest to build ourselves into a better species.

This is not to say that in theory what you suggest isn't possible, it just not plausible.

Regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

you're wrong (none / 0) (#55)
by ikillyou on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 09:03:32 AM EST

There are plenty of people who can't handle the responsibility of breeding, yet we have no universal laws restricting it to responsible people. Yet we have laws restricting driving, hunting, gun ownership, etc.

Please propose a system which ensures responsible parenting/breeding but which does not lead to increased, widespread suffering and injustice.



[ Parent ]

Uh.. (none / 0) (#75)
by Inoshiro on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 02:37:53 AM EST

You didn't even say which parts of my system would lead to that. How am I supposed to refute that?



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Uh (none / 0) (#77)
by ikillyou on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:45:25 AM EST

You didn't even say which parts of my system would lead to that. How am I supposed to refute that?

I'm inviting you to propose a system which ensures responsible parenting/breeding but which does not lead to increased, widespread suffering and injustice.

Note that you haven't made any concrete proposals in your earlier post. e.g. if your idea is to "license" breeding, be specific about how this will work - what is the criteria for licensing, who issues the license, etc.

[ Parent ]

Eugenics just isn't prudent. (2.50 / 2) (#60)
by flimflam on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 10:05:15 AM EST

The only thing we have to do is set down proper laws dictating what is improvement. From there, we can continue the evolution to being a better species. It's just like genetic engineering, except that it takes a lot longer to get results.
This is a recipe for disaster. The greatest protection a species has against extinction is genetic diversity. There is no way to predict what genetic traits may turn out to be beneficial in the long term -- if everyone were born as a result of selective breeding or genetic engineering we would be likely to eliminate the very traits that would save us (well, at least some of us) in the next climate shift. (This is what always gets me about people obsessed with racial purity -- the purer your race is the more likely it is to be wiped out by disease.)

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
So have a DNA bank. (none / 0) (#74)
by Inoshiro on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 02:36:30 AM EST

Just because you can become a monoculture, doesn't mean you have to. With retroviruses which can rewrite DNA at will, you can change yourself in a few generations easily.. and any previous gens can certainly survive on the medical technology.

Besides, I have yet to actually see something which wipes out a monoculture. And, if you think about it, we technically are since it's only 1/100th (or less!) of our DNA which separates us from monkeys.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
There are some problems with that. (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by Khedak on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 12:41:43 PM EST

And most people are wrong. Thanks to eugenics, we have better farm animals that produce more and better foods. Wheats which resist blights that would have otherwise caused large famines. My domestic cats are products of euginics, as are many other pets. So why is it bad? Why do people get so uppity about breeding "rights" ?

Because human beings are separate from animals in this regard. Human beings have the right to decide their own reproductive behaviour, or at least this is the general consensus.

Because they are too stupid to differentiate between the instinct to procreate, and a real need to procreate. And because, like any tool, eugenics can be misused. There are plenty of people who can't handle the responsibility of breeding, yet we have no universal laws restricting it to responsible people. Yet we have laws restricting driving, hunting, gun ownership, etc.

There are laws in place that are designed so that people who are irresponsible parents have their children taken away from them and given to people who are more responsible. You completely ignore this fact, but it's very important. Many responsible people are unable to have children, for whatever reason, and hence it's common for children to be taken from 'bad' parents and given to 'good' foster parents. But you knew this.

Of course there are problems even across cultural bounds, for example, there was one case where a Japanese father and son (of about 10) were visiting a friend in the US, and they were caught wrestling naked together. This, in Japan, is not perverse behavior. Nonetheless, somebody decided to call HRS, and even though the parents and child weren't even U.S. citizens the kid was hauled off because of child abuse allegations. Fortunately, it was worked out through the embassy, but you can see where I'm going.

Would you argue that people should be allowed to drive without a licence because it's very inconvienent to get around without a car? Yet most people demand the "right" to have as many children as they can pump out, and have society support their offspring.

What is the alternative? Are you going to fine them? And just ignore the fact that someone has to feed these children? How are you going to prevent them from having children? Mandatory sterilization, unless you obtain a reproduction permit? If you're saying that most people are wrong for being opposed to such an idea, then I must stress to you that perhaps there is a reason your opinion is in the minority. It would be nice if there would some way to enforce such a law that didn't end up harming the children more than it did the parents. But there's not.

Lastly, and this is most confusing to me, how exactly is licensing people to have children going to improve the genetics of the human race, unless the licensures are based on some genetic measure, and not (as you suggest) on some measure of "social responsibility"? It seems like you confuse two completely different problem domains here.

[ Parent ]
I disagree with some of your points. (none / 0) (#67)
by Inoshiro on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 05:30:01 PM EST

"Because human beings are separate from animals in this regard. Human beings have the right to decide their own reproductive behaviour, or at least this is the general consensus."

Not quite. Humans have a greater ability to choose their sexual/reproductive partners than other animals. The ability, though, is not a right. I have the ability to decice more effectively who I want to kill (compared to, say, a tiger which only hunts for food). Does that give me the right to just kill people at will?

"You completely ignore this fact, but it's very important. Many responsible people are unable to have children, for whatever reason, and hence it's common for children to be taken from 'bad' parents and given to 'good' foster parents. But you knew this."

But you imply too much. Responsible parents should have their genetic material passed on. That's why I'm fine and dandy with better reproductive technologies. If you're not a responsible parent, how much of that is lack of intellect springing from inferior early-age learning abilities and how much is from a lack of nurture? I'd say that if you can determine the child is perfectly capable (decent genes), then transfer them to a loving home where they will get the resources they need to grow and thrive. For those who are born and bred mouthbreathers, maybe a sterilization will be good. Free sterilization! Sex with no danger of children! I know they'd love that.

"Mandatory sterilization, unless you obtain a reproduction permit? If you're saying that most people are wrong for being opposed to such an idea, then I must stress to you that perhaps there is a reason your opinion is in the minority. "

In a perfect microcosm of civilization where I could experiment with ideas, I'd answer this by having a national gene bank. Before sterilization, people would be able to store enough material for dozens of children. When they want a child (and are found to have been responsible people), they could have an egg fertilized and implanted. The remaining genetic material could be used to screen for problems which could be fixed via gene therapy so that the current and future generations need not by hurt by some genetic disease. People who aren't responsible would also be helping because, like the others, before they were sterilized, they contributed genetic material.

My views are a little socialist in this regard. With a properly managed social healthcare system, this could be a reality. For familiies who have accidents (such as a spinal cord cutting), braindead embryos could be grown, and the stem cells from them used to treat the patient. Another benefit this system has is that abortions need not be a problem anymore (since the two sides, the right to choice, and the no-choice people are not changing their minds soon). No accidental pregnancies are possible.

" Lastly, and this is most confusing to me, how exactly is licensing people to have children going to improve the genetics of the human race, unless the licensures are based on some genetic measure, and not (as you suggest) on some measure of "social responsibility""

Nonsense. In the "ideal" I outlined above, people who are socially responsible are allowed to have children. And because of the genetic banks, any genetic diseases can be corrected. I'm improving the genetics by not forcing people to die or be killed off to improve the overall genetic quality, and because of the social restrictions, I'm also dealing with the base causes of strife. No longer do poor children have to steal, etc, to survive..

I'm abstracting away reproduction. We're not animals anymore, so why use rutting for children rather than just fun? We have a greater freedom in choice. So why not have society as a whole work towards bettering itself by sharing the goal of having children who will be loved and nurtured properly? Not based on money, not based on the inborn ability to have sex. And for those who are born sterile, but are otherwise good people, they can have a child based on the genetic material of people who have fine genes, but are unfit parents. This will break the cycle of people becoming like their parents (ever listened to the Offsring song "Way Down The Line"?).

I do agree with your point about cultural differences. Which is why you're free to leave the planned reproduction culture at any time. It'd just be nice to see humanity vary its ideaologies. Not that it can do that effectively on one planet. Any time someone decides to not be a democracy (etc), the US either invades them, invokes UN sanctions on them (despite not having paid UN dues), or starts a revolution inside them via the CIA.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
I said almost the same thing, but changed my mind (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by mattw on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 07:44:13 PM EST

In response to that same article, I said practically the same thing. Read through this, specifically speek's reply, which said it all. The real problem is that while it might be nice to only allow people who would make responsible parents to breed, there's simply no way you can legislate something like that without causing major problems, and, more dangerously, running the risk of the power of the licensing being used abusively.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
I'm all for better farm animals. (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by marlowe on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 12:11:26 PM EST

Just not of the human variety.

There's such a thing as being too well adjusted.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]

uh, dude (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by goosedaemon on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 08:58:41 AM EST

not many people use eugenics outside of formal settings to refer to breeding, they use eugenics to refer to euthanasia. what you're doing is like pulling rank or using an obscure law.

even if the common usage is as you say, it still often (though not necessarily) involves a hefty amount of killing of bad stock so it can't breed.



[ Parent ]
Parent definition of eugenics is correct (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by flimflam on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 09:55:34 AM EST

not many people use eugenics outside of formal settings to refer to breeding, they use eugenics to refer to euthanasia. what you're doing is like pulling rank or using an obscure law.
Eugenics has nothing to do with euthanasia. How is using a word according to its definition (and yes, commonly accepted usage -- most educated people know what it means) akin to "pulling rank"? I don't agree with the parent post, but he is using the word correctly.

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
why I mentioned the definition (none / 0) (#71)
by mattw on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 08:03:26 PM EST

The point regarding the definition was so that we are clear on the issue being discussed. Specifically, I think almost all people would be horrified at the idea of killing off people who were "unfit", and a lesser but still substantial number would be horrified by the idea of permitting only selecting people to procreate, but I believe a majority will eventually come to believe that some type of eugenics is not only appropriate, but necessary. I'm guessing it will begin with selection of the embryo after genetic analysis to select the most fit embryo for in vitro fertilization, which, to my mind, is still a form of eugenics (since you're filtering embryos, therefore selectively breeding). Also, if you accept abortion as morally acceptable, then you shouldn't see anything wrong with aborting a fetus based on its attributes. Right now, we can detect health and wholeness ( a la the french suit), but we will undoubtedly soon be able to determine things like intelligence, athletic ability, height, etc. Why settle for a second rate child if you can pop RU-486 and get pregnant again? I've already heard of parents aborting fetuses over hair/eye color, and sex. Why any uproar over disability? In any event, the point was that eugenics is not necessarily immoral, and many forms can already be practiced with impunity if you allow abortion for any reason.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
No, not quite the same. (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by jeremiah2 on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 10:29:29 AM EST

But awfully close. And we're talking about killing babies in the womb, not preventing them from having come into existence in the first place.
Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
[ Parent ]
Minefield for a moral absolutist? (none / 0) (#62)
by jeremiah2 on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 10:35:36 AM EST

How so? If abortion is wrong, this is wrong. Walk straight through to a clear conclusion. The only thing that blows up in one's face is the angry reactions of those who won't accept your premises.

I suppose it works more of less the same for those who think fetuses are expendable. And if they think those who make it outside the womb are also expendable, then the distinction between eugenics and genocide becomes moot.

Of source, for the moral relativist, there's no problem that can't be dealt with by refusing to confront it squarely.
Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
[ Parent ]

woops (none / 0) (#70)
by mattw on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 07:52:16 PM EST

I actually meant to say, "minefield for the moral relativist". And you've pinpointed the exact problem, which I tried to lay out. If abortion is wrong, the suit is wrong, that's clear. If abortion is fine, then the suit makes perfect sense, as aborting the child in question would be akin to wanting cancer removed.

The moral relativist is in a minefield because they may opt for pragmatic reasons, reasons of expediency, to justify abortion, and those reasons seem insufficient when your child asks you, "Why were you going to kill me?"

Of course, I've now forgotten the relatively complex line of reasoning I'd followed to conclude that a relativist would be in serious trouble trying to reconcile a set of circumstances (the abortion, the suit, and the concept of eugenics and the apparent benefits it would have).


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
Nazi eugenics alive and well, and coming soon to a (2.40 / 5) (#25)
by johnny on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 08:34:55 PM EST

uterus near you.

We're only just getting started. The Human Genome Project has identified (depending on how you count or whom you believe) some 50,000 genes (many of which have already been patented by megacorporations, but that's another story). The debate now becomes what level defect to what particular gene(s) disqualifies a (fetus|proto-person|embryo|unborn child|uterine scuzz) from what earlier USians had called the "Self-evident right" to life.

The neo-eugenicists have their standard bearer in Peter Singer, of Princeton University. He is an articulate and persuasive spokesman for the Nazi point of view. The odd thing is that while he chides people in general (and "American" people in particular) for lack of courage and forthrightness in discussing difficult ethical issues, he seems (per the referenced article) to take offense at the word "Nazi." In other words, while he finds others afraid to look deeply at real ethical issues, he seems afraid to call his ethics (at least as pertains to "disabilities") what they are. But he does, at least, look the issues in the eye, which is more than most people do.

As to my own take on these issues, I refer interested readers to a K5 comment I made some weeks ago on a related topic.

yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.

Uh (4.00 / 3) (#34)
by delmoi on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 10:16:32 PM EST

There is quite a bit more to Nazism then eugenics. Rightfully, singer could only be called a Nazi if he believed that certain races and Jews in particular should be killed. Calling singer a nazi because a few similar traits is like calling FDR and Winston Churchill Nazis because they were anti communist. (and, anti-communism was as much a part of the Nazi zeitgeist as any of the eugenic stuff)
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
peter singer advocates national socialism how? (4.33 / 3) (#42)
by sayke on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 01:38:26 AM EST

the peter singer i'm familier with has the boldness to take his positions [1] to their logical conclusions. by holding human animals to the same standard we all hold to nonhuman animals, singer demonstrates the absurdity of one of our (that is, humanity's) most evolutionarily sacrosanct myths: that the human-shaped is somehow necessarily sacred.

in no way does the singer i know advocate a system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of opposition through terror and censorship, or a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. that you can think of nothing to call him but a nazi highlights your collapse from lucid contemplation into protect-the-children mode. as a fan of your writing, this disappoints me.

do you oppose the legality of abortions? if not, then either agree with singer [2] or fall into hypocracy - but regardless, i'd like to discuss this with you, because i probably don't understand your position. however, if you oppose the legality of abortions, you're almost certainly drowning in inconsistancy now, so discussing this with you would serve no purpose.

[1] positions that are held by a great many people who do not have the courage to take them to their reasonable conclusions, no less!

[2] about the big stuff at least - reasonable people will disagree about the specifics


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Touchy! (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by johnny on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 09:13:29 AM EST

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say (and I don't think I did say) that Peter Singer *is* a Nazi. I say that his ethical position on "less than perfect" individuals is not meaningfully different from the ethical position that guided the Nazi "T4" program from 1939 to the beginings of the "final solution." Here's a link to the first article that came up in google when I searched on "Nazi t4". I'm sure there are better pages that you can find with a little effort, but this is a good start. Does that make Singer bad or T4 good? No comment.

One can have serious reservations about the morality of abortion without favoring its being illegal. I also obseve that in most legal systems, the intent and state of mind of the deathmaker is considered relevant in considering whether the act of making something or somebody dead was moral or not. Killing in self-defense, or by accident, or in combat is considered different than cold-blooded murder. This is an old-fashioned view, but it makes sense to me. So I think by analogy that in considering the morality of an individual abortion, it's worth thinking about the motivation behind the abortion. In the context of this k5 discussion, I think it's worth considering whether some kind of rank-ordering of human worth (a la Nazism) is implied in the notion of suing over "wrongful birth."

Call me old fashioned, again, but I do kinda believe that he human shape is somehow sacrosant (to the degree that anything is sacrosanct.) I don't know how to conceive of a livable society that doesn't somehow start from the notion that, you know, killing people is a bad idea. I know I'm going out on a limb here in techno-uptopic-transhumanist-cyberselfish-libertarian-land, but I *do*, a little, maybe, sorta, think that killling people, is, well, OK, I'll just say it, a bad idea. And I'm not too crazy about abortion either, which is not to say I'm a clinc bomber. I think the Roe V. Wade decision is about as close as a reasonable approach to this issue as we're ever going to find.



yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.
[ Parent ]

grrr...money... (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by AhrT on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 11:34:58 PM EST

I'm disappointed to read such an article but at the same time I can understand parent's being miffed at doctors not doing their job properly. It has to be incredibly hard on the kids to think that you're not all that you're parents wanted...it's hard enough thinking that when you're "normal". I can see parents needing extra money to care for disabled children but the kids also need just as much love as the rest of us.

I don't know about the rest of the world but the Australian government has a plan whereby if under certain circumstances involving low income and having kids, you can get money for, well basically, rooting and shooting out mewling little cabbages.

It's a great idea. It helps low income families to survive which I have no problem supporting. However there are reports and investigations, be they accurate or not, where people are spitting out kids purely for the monetary benefits.

Now, is it possible that the people mentioned above would attempt, through a poorly cared for gestation/growth period, to have malformed children to get not only the government payout and with the help of a dodgy doctor, get the proceeds of litigation also?

Heaven forbid that such a shallow act could possibly occur, but I can't see what would stop a greedy person at least attempting it.



sueing hospitals helps who? (4.25 / 4) (#49)
by tripitaka on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 06:49:46 AM EST

I find it ridiculous under virtually any circumstance, including this (particularly odious) one, to seek financial redress from a medical service. Hospitals and other such services keep us and others alive and well with a limited budget. Taking money away from them will reduce this budget and reduce their ability to do their work. I note a comment above which says this case will be a good thing for low income, disadvantaged families. Hurrah. How about everyone else, whose treatment will suffer from the redress given to a small number of recipients?

everyone (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by Locke on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 01:34:39 PM EST

So if someone goes to a hospital and it is discovered that their right leg needs to be amputated because of complications with diabetes and their left leg is accidentally removed should there be no option for redress? The physician and those associated with the hospital had only the best intentions and as such should not be held responsible for their actions?

I've been reading a book about female sexual dysfunction. It is amazing to me how ignorant some urologists and other physicians in the medical services industry are of female sexual health. Historically women with sexual problems are dismissed, their problems categorized as emotional or worse still normal. Women above a certain age should lose sexual interest, function, etc, right?

I'm sorry, but people who go to hospitals, and see doctors are entrusting their lives and the quality of their lives with these people. Ingorance and incompetence should not be tolerated simply because of a belief that all doctors have good intentions or that keeping costs down is more important that improving the quality of available service. Physicians, et al, chose their profession. They should know ahead of time that it is a profession with profound consequences where mistakes cost lives. They should also know that they've taken on a responsibility to the people they serve and are accountable to those very people. With most legal systems this seems to be through monetary redress. While the costs associated with medical care may be prohibitive it doesn't seem responsible to discount the importance of remuneration for mistakes made in the medical profession.

[ Parent ]

So ? This is pretty logical (2.33 / 3) (#50)
by Betcour on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 07:28:12 AM EST

Let me sum things up : the plaintif is suffering (physically and psychically) from a mistake made by a doctor. He is suing said doctor and winning damages to compensate for his miserable life he has to go thru now. So what's wrong with that ? I don't see where is the problem. Heck everyone has the choice to live and die if he wishes so. Since you can't decide not to live before you are given birth - this decision has to be made by parents with the help of doctors. If doctors don't do their job properly and screw up, then children & parents should be able to be sue said doctors like any other profession can be sued for damages resulting of a serious mistake.

which is more fun? (2.00 / 1) (#66)
by darthaya on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 03:31:57 PM EST

Being born and live miserably as a natural-born disabled person or not knowing it at all?
Difficult choice if you are not one.


The big question on everyone's mind... (3.66 / 3) (#68)
by littleshimmy on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 05:40:12 PM EST

Why didn't the judge just sentence the kid to death?

Well, just maybe... (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by foofish on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 10:54:51 PM EST

Maybe these kids wouldn't have such horrible lives if their parents didn't have the attitude "Gee, I wish I'd had a normal kid, rather than a useless gimp like you." I know lots of people who were born with birth 'defects', but lead perfectly happy lives. If someone has a supportive environment where they are loved no matter how they were born, they're a lot more likely to be happy than if all they hear is "Well, we *should* have aborted you."

money? (4.50 / 2) (#73)
by j0s)( on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 02:34:31 AM EST

Why'd they award them money? Wouldn't the proper award to be to kill the children that the parent's didn't want? If they didn't want the kid so badly that they would sue over it, why not just kill the deformed bastard and make both of you feel better?

TIM-MAY!!

-- j0sh


-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.


In order to do that, they'd have to come out... (none / 0) (#81)
by marlowe on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 12:16:29 PM EST

of denial over just what it is they're really asking.

Maybe a little honest infanticide would be an improvement over this evasive abortion doublespeak. In the same way that open atheism is better than a fraudulent religiosity, or that going Bulworth is better than politics as usual.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Speaking from a moms point of view.. (none / 0) (#82)
by sexyblonde on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 12:44:17 PM EST

When you decide to have children you get what you get and thank god for the precious little gift or gifts you've received. When I was 9 months a long with my oldest daughter, my Doctor told me that my daughter was only 4 pounds and could have some deformities. When I gave birth to her she was 8 lbs, 7 oz with no birth defects.

Doctor's are not always right on their diagnosis.

The story above is disturbing. And I agree with most of the replies.

Shame on those parents.

Disabled French Children Sue Doctors for Not Aborting Them | 83 comments (78 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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