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[P]
The High Cost of Living

By enterfornone in Op-Ed
Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:57:09 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

According to this article, three severely disabled children are suing for "wrongful life", claiming that they were born severely disabled due to doctors mistakes.

However had the doctors not made these mistakes, the children would not have been born at all. Should these doctors be held liable for bringing these children into the world, just because these children are not what society deems as ideal?


According to the article, "Alexia Harriton, 20, was born after her mother contracted rubella, and is blind, deaf, mentally retarded and in need of 24-hour care.

"Chelsea Edwards, 2, was born after a botched vasectomy and suffers from a chromosomal abnormality leading to intellectual disability, speech impairment and dysmorphic facial features. Keeden Waller, 1, inherited a blood-clotting disease from his father that will lead to cerebral palsy and brain damage. An unscreened, genetically diseased embryo was transferred to his mother's womb during in-vitro fertilisation."

Pre-natal screening is a controversial topic. Advocates claim that it allows parents to be "better prepared and thus better able to be the best possible parents to these babies". Critics claim that pre-natal screening poses no benefits for the child and is generally used "as a means of finding out if the baby is good enough or perfect enough to be allowed to live". Critics also claim that children can often be harmed due to invasive screening tests. Not surprisingly, many of the most vocal critics of pre-natal screening are people who were born with severe disabilities. These people recognise full well that they would not have been born had they been screened for their condition. Obviously another group of vocal critics of pre-natal screening comes from pro-life advocates.

However while the question of whether pre-natal screening and abortion is morally right or wrong is important, it is not completely relevant all of these cases. In the case of Alexia, had her mother known that she had contracted rubella during her pregnancy she would most likely have aborted. However in the case of Chelsea Edwards, had her father's vasectomy been successful she would not have even been conceived. In Keeden Waller's case, had his embryo been screened it would not have been implanted. Whether this amounts to abortion or not is open to debate. It is worth noting however that all three parents concede that they would have aborted had they know of the childrens condition post-conception.

There is also the argument put forward by Philosopher Peter Singer, that just as many deem the abortion of a severely disabled child to be acceptable, likewise it is just as acceptable to kill a severely disabled child after it has been born. Singers argument has earned him much controversy, however if we are to reject this argument and still accept abortion we need to decide what makes the moment of birth so special that we can draw the line there.

However regardless of how these debates turn out, the fact is that had the doctors not been negligent, these children would not have been born. According to the article an important facet of this case is that it is the children and not the parents who are suing their doctors. Of course we can argue that children of one and two years and mentally disabled people lack the ability to conduct legal action, however from a legal point of view it is them and not the parents conducting this action.

It is also important to note that no one wants to "correct" the doctors mistakes. No one is suggesting, however right Singer may claim it is, that these children should be killed if they win. Instead they are suing for money. While there can be no argument that living with a severe disability would be an expensive exercise, at what stage does such a claim become frivolous? It is no secret that being born black or female bestows significant disadvantages in today's society - do such people deserve compensation for being forced to live? Obviously that is an extreme, but what if we one day have pre-natal screening for such conditions as asthma or ADD?

I think that if we place any value on human life, we should accept that these doctors did these children a favour, not a disservice. These children should be thanking the doctors that allowed them to live - not suing them.

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The High Cost of Living | 93 comments (89 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting (4.80 / 15) (#2)
by fraserspeirs on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 08:56:54 AM EST

This is certainly an interesting case. I totally do not agree with your conclusion, however:
I think that if we place any value on human life, we should accept that these doctors did these children a favour, not a disservice. These children should be thanking the doctors that allowed them to live - not suing them.

To me, that argument puts the *least possible* value on human life - the lowest common denominator of being able to eat, excrete and respirate. I would submit to you that you're putting more value on medical intervention.

This is, to me, a distressingly common attitude these days - that 'valuing human life' means 'preserving human life at all costs'. I've been in enough intensive care wards, stroke rehab units and old people's care homes to have almost the exact opposite opinion.

I don't think this is a frivolous case at all. Sometimes, it's better to accept that bad things happen, that children die meaningless deaths and that innocents do suffer sometimes.

Somewhat related to this is the current case of a child in the UK born with severe face deformities. That case is about the parents right to disagree with the doctors and refuse surgery, which addresses a somewhat similar question: does the doctor know best? I don't agree that they do.

(Hope that last paragraph wasn't "too UK-centric" for K5)

Don't pull the poo card with me, bigot! (3.00 / 6) (#25)
by derek3000 on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 01:21:00 PM EST

To me, that argument puts the *least possible* value on human life - the lowest common denominator of being able to eat, excrete and respirate.

It's interesting that you bring that up. In one of his books, the Dalai Llama said something to this effect: if you look at an earthworm, all it does is crawl around on the ground, eat this peice of dirt, and then poop it out. That's all it does, day after day until it dies. One could look at humans the same way if you ignore the stuff that goes between.

It's not as easy as you might think to say that these people would be better off had they never been born. Mostly because none of us know what that's like.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Same quote... (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by tekue on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:19:25 AM EST

...could be used in the opposite argument:

In one of his books, the Dalai Llama said something to this effect: if you look at an earthworm, all it does is crawl around on the ground, eat this peice of dirt, and then poop it out. That's all it does, day after day until it dies. One could look at humans the same way if you ignore the stuff that goes between.
It seems obvious for me, that for those children, there's not going to be a lot in "between".

And as long as I'm writing here, the argument, that if we allow abortion, we should be O.K. with killing infants, is simply stupid and the author (Peter Singer) probably knows it. The thing is, that noone is advocating abortion in the 9th month of pregnancy (not to say, that it's technicaly impossible), because you can't abort a child. You can however abort a featus, and the only problem (although a serious one) is to diffrentiate between a featus and a child. Still, there's nothing special about the moment of birth, it's all about the moment of becoming human.

Human by my definition is someone mentaly capable of acknowledging its own existence; I consider a child mentaly capable of ack. it, but unwilling due to lack of motivation. A featus is not able to acknowledge anything, no matter how motivated.

One other thing, if we're O.K. with killing animals (and contrary to popular belief, the ham on your sandwich originates from an animal, not from a supermarket), then why exactly are we against killing featuses—which are(obviously) not human?
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Two quick points. (none / 0) (#88)
by derek3000 on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:22:32 AM EST

There are some things that you take for granted:

1.The thing is, that noone is advocating abortion in the 9th month of pregnancy (not to say, that it's technicaly impossible)...

I'd watch it here. the pro-choice argument would be more effective if you just said that you could abort while it was still in the womb. Trying to distinguish between when it is life and when it isn't is tricky business.

2.Still, there's nothing special about the moment of birth, it's all about the moment of becoming human.

This basically negates the statement that it's not ok to kill infants. Think about it.

3.Human by my definition is someone mentaly capable of acknowledging its own existence; I consider a child mentaly capable of ack. it, but unwilling due to lack of motivation.

Someone smarter than me once said that the difference between humans and animals is not intelligence but free will. I'm not sure how true that is, but it's better than intelligence and I think that it's better than self-awareness.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

That was three points :), but that aside... (none / 0) (#89)
by tekue on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:53:28 AM EST

I'd watch it here. the pro-choice argument would be more effective if you just said that you could abort while it was still in the womb. Trying to distinguish between when it is life and when it isn't is tricky business
I'm not trying to distinguish when it's life and when not—that is relatively easy to establish and doesn't have anything to do with the subject (at least if we find killing animals and insects morally correct). The problem is (as you probably meant) with establishing when does the featus changes into human. This problem is of course huge and people vary heavily in their views on it, but if we take for granted, that there is a moment when featus changes into human, then we're half done with it.

As you might have guessed, I stand by the argument, that the choice should be made by the pregnant woman, the man who impregnated her, maybe their families. It's their private matters and shouldn't be arbitrated.

I think the problem is that we try to regulate everything by law, eliminating the need to make choices and the need to be intelligent. The laws have always been made not for the ones who made them, but for the stupid people. Yes, that's right, all the laws have been made to stop stupid people from acting stupidly. As this is not the best method to eliminate dumbness in the population (because you should cure the illness, not it's symptomes), we don't get too far with it. That's what the people who founded USofA had in mind—set as few laws as possible, just to keep everything flowing (things like roads and protection of borders from enemies), they certainly didn't mean to regulate ethics—and ethics can't really be regulated by law.

Why don't we just let people decide things like that by themselves, they should do the best for the baby and for themselves. And if they're not able to decide things like that for themselves, should they be trusted with raising the child? There are more ways you could hurt a child than simply not letting it become.

2.Still, there's nothing special about the moment of birth, it's all about the moment of becoming human.
This basically negates the statement that it's not ok to kill infants. Think about it.
Not at all! And I don't think you've got my point. Infant (if my English is not failing me) is a baby human and I think that killing humans is wrong. I just say that I don't think that the act of being dragged (or cut) out of someone's vagina is what really makes us human.
Someone smarter than me once said that the difference between humans and animals is not intelligence but free will. I'm not sure how true that is, but it's better than intelligence and I think that it's better than self-awareness.
Someone smarter than me said once, that there's no such thing as free will, and that all we do is either determined (by simple laws of phisics) or completely random (quantum theory). As there's no such thing as free will, there's no difference between human and other animals if we use your definition.

To be honest, I don't know why—other than simplyfing moral code—do we need to diffrenciate between homo sapiens and other animals. We're animals, mammals, close relatives to monkeys, there's no reason to get all excited about our "humanity", because we're not that much special.

Personally I'm really hoping, that some massively intelligent alien race comes flying to Earth, just so we could see how minor and little we are. But most humans would probably say we're better, because we are so evolved, that we can kill all of ourselves with one push of a button. Yeah, we're so neat.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

I'll skip the counting this time. (none / 0) (#91)
by derek3000 on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 03:19:24 PM EST

Regardless, this is a nice exchange. Here are a couple (ambiguous counting term) of things I can think of right now:

1.Someone smarter than me said once, that there's no such thing as free will, and that all we do is either determined (by simple laws of phisics) or completely random (quantum theory). As there's no such thing as free will, there's no difference between human and other animals if we use your definition.

When you talk about the origins of the universe, you talk about yourself as well. If you've ever been truly in love, or at least believe in love, then I don't see how you can boil our existence (and actions) down to protons and electrons. In a state of post-coital bliss, do you turn to your beloved and say "all of the chemicals in my brain are causing my neurotransmitters to release endorphines and opiates, giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And it's all because of you...I think"?

2. To be honest, I don't know why--other than simplyfing moral code--do we need to diffrenciate between homo sapiens and other animals. We're animals, mammals, close relatives to monkeys, there's no reason to get all excited about our "humanity", because we're not that much special.

Do animals have moral responsibilies towards us? It would be a very strange relationship indeed if we made it illegal to kill an animal--period. They don't have any concept of morality--so what you are saying is that we adopt their moral code (which doesn't exist), or we should make them adopt ours (which is impossible). Did I misunderstand?

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Missunderstanded (none / 0) (#92)
by tekue on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 09:40:06 AM EST

If you've ever been truly in love, or at least believe in love, then I don't see how you can boil our existence (and actions) down to protons and electrons. In a state of post-coital bliss, do you turn to your beloved and say "all of the chemicals in my brain are causing my neurotransmitters to release endorphines and opiates, giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And it's all because of you...I think"?
Well, no, I don't, as well as I don't tell her beforehand "Hello female of my species, I'd like to peform an sexual act right now and I would like you to perform it with me; we will exchange body fluids in a proper manner and then we will engage in an act of laing close to each other to make us feel fullfilled and cared-for. Will you accept this offer?". It's something we know, but we don't talk about it, but it doesn't mean it's not just phisics -- it just means that we skip this technical bits as they are obvious and not needed to be pointed out at the moment.

What I don't understand is why people get so upset when I discuss this theory with them. They tell me that if we don't have any free will, they could as well kill themselves right at the spot, but they don't understand, that if they're going to pull the trigger, they will, no matter what. The theory of no free will doesn't change anything you do -- and it really can't. If it's true, then you can't do anything to change your fate and you may as well go along with what you're doing; if it's not, then what's the worry?

The only real use of this theory I know of is to disprove human superiority based on Christian religious beliefs. If there's no free will, there's no good or bad in our behaviour, therefore we cannot be judged by our deeds, as they were not our fault, therefore there cannot be heaven or hell. There are some other implications, but there are also mostly religious in their nature.

And yes, I've been in love, but it certainly doesn't prove I have free will. The feeling is great, but so is (to lesser or bigger extent) looking at a beautyful view or tripping on LSD, and that isn't relevant. Being governed by simple laws of phisics is not bad, or good, it just is.

2. To be honest, I don't know why--other than simplyfing moral code--do we need to diffrenciate between homo sapiens and other animals. We're animals, mammals, close relatives to monkeys, there's no reason to get all excited about our "humanity", because we're not that much special.
Do animals have moral responsibilies towards us? It would be a very strange relationship indeed if we made it illegal to kill an animal--period. They don't have any concept of morality--so what you are saying is that we adopt their moral code (which doesn't exist), or we should make them adopt ours (which is impossible). Did I misunderstand?
There's no such thing as "human moral code", you've got yours, I've got mine, animals other than human most probably don't have any. There are some points valid for most people (i.e. 'do not kill others of your species' or 'don't take other people's property') but there's not even one point I can think of that is valid for all the people in the world.

Animals don't have any moral code (as humans mean) and they can't have any, because having moral code requires conscience and ability to think in abstracts. Having moral code would probably be deadly for an animal, as there's not exactly much time for an lion to think about the poor, starving antelope babies. Their instincts are quite the same as our moral codes -- they tell them what to do to be 'good' (ie. successfull) and how to co-exist with other animals they meet. To say animals don't have moral code and we do simply on basis that our morals are different than theirs is oversimplyfying -- it's just that we say "don't steal" and they say "don't steal from stronger animals, steal from week ones". I can even see some advanteges on their side -- we say "don't kill" yet we kill for entertainment, pleasure or from boredom. Non-domesticated animals don't kill unless they have to, which is because of an instinct saying "don't waste energy".

I'm also not saying that we should ban killing other animals -- that would be quite stupid. Instead we should try and develop ways to co-exist with animals, not ruling them, not being ruled by them, just live side-by-side.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Theories that can't be proven. (none / 0) (#93)
by derek3000 on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:38:54 PM EST

I understand what you are saying; however, I can't agree with it.

The theory of free will/not free will cannot be proved/disproved, at least in my opinion. I think we can agree on that.

Also: God. Which may or may not negate free will. But it would certainly negate your materialism-based views. Take it for what it's worth.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Favour ? (4.10 / 10) (#3)
by nr0mx on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:06:56 AM EST

I think that if we place any value on human life, we should accept that these doctors did these children a favour, not a disservice. These children should be thanking the doctors that allowed them to live - not suing them.

Hmm ... I would not say that. The point is that they were asked to perform a service, and they botched it.

This is a very tricky question, and I am not sure I have an answer, but I'd support the parents. If I get certain tests done in the hope that I can provide for my child, give it a decent life within my means, and I pay for it, there are certain obligations due to me.

As far as abortions are concerned, I say protect the life that already exists, then worry about those that are not born yet. Help the children who need help. The homeless and orphaned children. Those who have no food to eat, no roof to live under, and no one to care about them. There are so many of them. Do something to help them before sermonizing on the right of the unborn to live.

Children sue, not parents (3.25 / 4) (#7)
by vefoxus on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:45:09 AM EST

This is a very tricky question, and I am not sure I have an answer, but I'd support the parents. If I get certain tests done in the hope that I can provide for my child, give it a decent life within my means, and I pay for it, there are certain obligations due to me.

I guess we all agree that after the malpractice the parents can sue. The question is, can the children do it too? That's very different.

[ Parent ]

Yes they can (3.16 / 6) (#10)
by Betcour on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:15:02 AM EST

The child is suffering from the error of a doctor, so he should be able to sue as well. The only thing that is bugging people is that in this case the error is to have given life to the child (usually the error brings death, not life), but that's only because we are in a judeo-christian society where "life is a gift of God blablablabla".

[ Parent ]
Eugenics then (5.00 / 3) (#28)
by vefoxus on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:08:27 PM EST

[This we have already begun discussing here.]

The problem with your point of view is that it whould enable any person to sue his parents for bringig him to life. And as genetic screening becomes possible, a lot of things could be sued for...

You may want to limit by law what you could sue your parents for (as you have suggested), but then it would only be worse, since it would be a way of enforcing eugenism. The ethical consequences are just frightening...

And as for life being a gift, I'm afraid it is a much wider idea than just a judeo-christian one...

[ Parent ]

The ethical consequences of eugenics... (none / 0) (#33)
by Znork on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:47:04 PM EST

...is a phrase that is bandied about a lot. What are they? I, personally, cannot see any form of actual ethical problem with eugenics in itself. I can see a lot of possible practical problems like dead-ending the genetic pool (which we might be doing anyway) and things in really bad taste like getting children who look a special way, but where are the ethical problems? It's not like eugenics infringe on anyones freedom or anything. We may be infringing on some peoples self-esteem if they can handle being dealt not-quite-the-best hand, but they cannot accept that not everyone has to play at all, but that isnt an ethical problem.

Rather, in my opinion, not using what eugenic capability we have could be considered deeply unethical since we would be causing unnecessary suffering through neglecting to act to prevent that suffering.

What exactly are the frightening ethical consequences?

[ Parent ]
Ethical consequences... (none / 0) (#36)
by vefoxus on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 03:30:24 PM EST

The "frightening" consequences are (in short) that you are labelling categories of people as being completely 'unfit' for life...

"It's not like eugenics infringe on anyones freedom or anything"

Eugenics consist in deciding globally (by law) who is fit to live or not, and therefore are a clear limitation on parental freedom.

"not using what eugenic capability we have could be considered deeply unethical since we would be causing unnecessary suffering through neglecting to act to prevent that suffering."

Generally, the suffering is more endured by the parents than by anyone else (including the children)...

[ Parent ]

Forced vs free (none / 0) (#83)
by Znork on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:39:43 PM EST

I cant quite see how it would be labelling categories as unfit, unless we are discussing quite different aspects of eugenics. In my opinion, improving our offspring does not make earlier generations 'unfit' for life, nor does it make the offspring of anyone who choses not to improve their offspring any less fit.

Of course, global forced eugenics would have ethical consequences, but that is more a matter of them being global and forced, and ethically repugnant like many such things. Eugenics as voluntary improvement of offspring is quite a different thing ethically.

Personally, I would be extremely annoyed with my parents had they had the ability to remove any chances of possible inherited diseases, but didnt. I would consider my rights to life severely infringed upon. Living with fear of early death through painful disease is something I've tried and I wouldnt wish it on anyone.

[ Parent ]
Forced vs free, indeed (none / 0) (#84)
by vefoxus on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:40:03 PM EST

Precisely, my point is that if you can be sued by your chidldren because you did not do some genetic screening, then you are effectively forced to do it (by fear of going to jail when your kid gets 18/21). Which is what I believe is dangerous.

And if you try to limit the possibilities (gene "defects", however difficult this can be to label) of sueing by law, that law will practically point some people as 'unfit' for life.

The only way out of this is (IMHO) to have children unable to ever sue their parents for being born, and trust that the parents will use their freedom to choose what his best for their offspring. Other options lead to forced (directly or indirectly) eugenics.

[ Parent ]

Not really (5.00 / 2) (#30)
by Woundweavr on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:19:35 PM EST

There are three children. The 20 year old was born after the mother got rubella, the 2 year old after a botched vasectomy and the 1 year old from a trait inherited from the father.

It was not the doctor's fault the mother got rubella, merely that he did not diagnose it/tell her about the defects. It was a choice between living disabled or being aborted.

The 2 year old has the a stlightly askew case as the doctor's job was to perform an operation that would prevent a pregnancy. She is retarded because of a genetic defect. Again the only other option would have been aborted. It would seem more that a negligence suit by the parents would be more appropriate, since they weren't supposed to get pregnant in the first place. On the other hand, they did carry out the pregnancy, thus choosing to have the baby.

The third case is one of in-vitro fertilisation. I don't know what the procedure for screening such embroyos are, but it seems like someone messed up. If the parents knew their egg wouldnt be screened, then they have no case(IMO). This case I would consider the only reasonably valid one, but only if the doctor was negligent in not screening the baby and that there was a chance of a non-retarded baby could be born. Otherwise it again goes to aborted to alive but retarded.

[ Parent ]

Choice (none / 0) (#71)
by tekue on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:29:02 AM EST

It was not the doctor's fault the mother got rubella, merely that he did not diagnose it/tell her about the defects. It was a choice between living disabled or being aborted.
Yup, but it wasn't for the doctor to choose.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
The whossa-whatsit?? (4.25 / 16) (#5)
by jabber on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:35:34 AM EST

A severely disabled 20 year old, along with a 1 and 2 year old are bringing this suit?? Sounds more like a bunch of lawyers testing a new revenue stream..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

What's human? (4.46 / 15) (#6)
by Defect on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:37:08 AM EST

What value does human life have if it is so diseased and near death right after birth? These children are hardly more than suffering animals, and it's never thought wrong to put a hurt animal to sleep.

Why exactly is there so much controversy surrounding the life of a "human?" The only unique quality we have, over most other animals, is our mind; should severely mentally disabled children be classified as human and given the same rights as anyone else? Aside from the obvious moral problems inherent in the issue, the only aspect that should really be considered is the limit of mental growth, as, seriously, our brain is the only thing that makes us human. If your child is going to be slightly more retarded than a frog, then there shouldn't be much question as to how many rights it has.

If your child is born with an eventually fatal disease (as in a condition which will remove its life within the first few years), then, at the discretion of the parents (who really are the only people that matter with a child so young), the child should be able to be terminated at any time. The parents only grow an emotional attachment with a temporary pet under such circumstances, if they're alright with the pain they will go through later in life, then there's little harm done, the kid will die when its time runs out. Otherwise, for the benefit of both parent and child, there should be the option of sparing both of them the inevitable pain and heartache.

Treating both instances as involving pure human life is unreasonable and diminishes the actual meaning our lives have. As for the legal issues involved in the matter: i don't understand why it is looked at as the children suing the incompetent doctors. The parents are really the only ones affected, and should be compensated for the irritation and disgust at birthing what amount to be abominations of our species. I'm assuming having the children involved in the legal action prevents arguments regarding the monetary value of a retarded or doomed child's life, but the concept is so flawed it hurts.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
spoken like... (2.00 / 9) (#8)
by leifb on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:59:57 AM EST

...someone who has never had a disabled child.

Nor known anyone who did.

[ Parent ]
to the contrary (4.70 / 10) (#9)
by Defect on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:06:32 AM EST

I've worked with mentally retarded adults, my aunt is disabled, and my sister is mentally retarded (though not so severely that she can not function).

The comment was from someone who knows the topic well.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
You have to draw the line somewhere (4.18 / 11) (#12)
by hulver on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:25:03 AM EST

You have to say, this is as far as we go, this far, no further.

If we start saying, People are people, except if they have a certian kind of disability, then where do we stop?
After a few decades of that, overall quality of life has improved for people in your country, do you then re-evaluate your line?

Perhaps an example would make my point clearer. 100 years ago, being born with Cerebal Palsey meant that you were locked away in an asylum. We now know that people with CP have got perfectly good minds, but their bodies are not normal.
Today, we might say that a child who has been born with a serious disease, might only live a few years, so we might as well "Put them down".
What about in another 100 years? By then we might count people born with Downs Syndrome to be "Disposable". Their quality of life would not be as good as ours, so might as well remove them from the gene pool.

I think the line is right where it stands now. 14 weeks, its not a person. After that it is. If you start putting people down (literally that is, not verbally), you're starting down a slippery slope.

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]

Depends on the Soul.... (3.00 / 9) (#17)
by Elkor on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:10:01 AM EST

From the point of view of a Reincarnationist (which I don't think I am), the short life span does have merit.

If you are "answering for the transgressions" of a previous life in this one, then the amount of suffering you undergo will expiate the bad karma you have and allow you to "move on" in a later life.

By denying the individual the opportunity to live their life, they cannot "work off" the bad karma they have accumulated, and will just come back again.

These beliefs are not necessarily my own, but are felt by some individuals.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it's religious beliefs (none / 0) (#72)
by tekue on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:37:30 AM EST

...so it's not a rational point of view. Some people belive for example, that they will go to heaven if they kill you or some of your natives before they die. Do you agree to factor in their beliefs into the law? And if not, why should we factor in yours (or "some individuals"')?
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
We were supposed to be rational? (none / 0) (#76)
by Elkor on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:24:02 AM EST

The truth of the matter is that when life is involved, rarely are emotions left out of the decision.

The same goes for law-making. Ever seen a spirited debate over whether a law should be passed or not? Do you really think that both individuals are arguing from a rational point of view?

Instead, they are arguing for the position they believe in. The one that will give them the best result.

Law is a religion whose diety is itself.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Yes, we should be (none / 0) (#90)
by tekue on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 10:37:27 AM EST

The truth of the matter is that when life is involved, rarely are emotions left out of the decision.

The same goes for law-making. Ever seen a spirited debate over whether a law should be passed or not? Do you really think that both individuals are arguing from a rational point of view?

Instead, they are arguing for the position they believe in. The one that will give them the best result.

And those are bad things, you know? Law should have exactly nothing to do with religion/ethics/morals. And if you say that there are some things that can't be judged without ethics—those things quite obviously should not be regulated by law.
Instead, they are arguing for the position they believe in. The one that will give them the best result.
Well, that's deep and all, but lets not mix 'beliving in something' (as in 'standing by it in discussion') and 'beliving in god'. The difference is that if you belive in something, you can change your mind if given rational arguments. I don't think people should be allowed to decide about other people's lifes if their religious beliefs can bias their decisions, because religions (or at least those I've met) are very irrational and therefore could affect the law making it irrational, which is wrong.

In short: religions are irrational → people who follow them are biased → decisions made by them way are biased towards irrationality → law based on those decissions is (to some extent) irrational. Now tell me, do you want some irrational finger on the global-war-launch button? It's been proven many times over, that religions can be used to justify killing and opressing millions of people, and it can and will happen again if we don't pay attention.

As a side note: I don't have anything against religions as such or in particular. As long as they leave me alone, I "let them be". If they start fiddling with my life, I fight them. Other people's religious beliefs are purely their private matters and I don't want any part of that in my life, I'm quite happy as a rational atheist.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Define (3.14 / 7) (#27)
by Woundweavr on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:06:35 PM EST

If your child is born with an eventually fatal disease (as in a condition which will remove its life within the first few years), then, at the discretion of the parents (who really are the only people that matter with a child so young), the child should be able to be terminated at any time. The parents only grow an emotional attachment with a temporary pet under such circumstances, if they're alright with the pain they will go through later in life, then there's little harm done, the kid will die when its time runs out. Otherwise, for the benefit of both parent and child, there should be the option of sparing both of them the inevitable pain and heartache.

Tell that to all the people who were diagnosed with diseases that would kill them within their first few years who lived. There are many.

Your stated opinions really are revolting. No matter how much you want to classify the retarded as "pets" or "abominations", they are human beings. Your supposition of

The parents only grow an emotional attachment with a temporary pet under such circumstances,

shows how ignorant you are to human nature and emotional ties. I feel sorry for you if this is how you look at the world.

Furthermore, your idea is shortsighted. Who determines who is "human" and who is not? Who will determine who lives and who dies? Are you going to define sentience, and humanity?

And even if you could quantify inteligence to an exact enough degree, where is the line? I can say that I am brighter than many of my peers in math, logic and general knowledge. However, I can't draw, and I tend to be disorganized. How does that rank against a artistic genius, who can't add or say who is President? What'll be the standard of inhumanity?

[ Parent ]

Do Not Resuscitate (3.80 / 5) (#14)
by ikeaboy on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:45:00 AM EST

You could draw parallels with Do No Resuscitate Orders, where hospital patients request not to have CPR performed in the event of cardiac arrest. Usually this is done in cases where CPR is unlikely to be (ultimately) successful. It comes down to a quality of life assessment. Even so, it's a fine line and is still a topic for discussion for medical ethicists.

The big difference in this case is that the patient usually originates the DNR order. If a family member asks for a DNR order is usually because "it is what he/she would have wanted". Ambiguity aside, the idea is that it is the will of the patient. This all falls down when the patient is a child or newborn...

Kudos to these children! (3.90 / 10) (#15)
by skim123 on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:59:03 AM EST

According to this article, three severely disabled children are suing for "wrongful life", claiming that they were born severely disabled due to doctors mistakes

The children, a mentally retarded 20 year old, and a 2 year old and 1 year old are doing pretty well for themselves if, at this tender age, they can bring forth a legal suit. Most mentally capable kids don't file their first civil suit until their mid to late teens.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Why -1 (3.66 / 6) (#16)
by h3lldr0p on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:02:41 AM EST

While this is better written than your previous version, there are still bits of the language that you use which simply makes my mind reel. For instance, do you really indend to say the following :

However regardless of how these debates turn out, the fact is that had the doctors not been negligent, these children would not have been born.

Mind you, according to your links, no trial has taken place, no blame except to bring these suits has been laid anywhere. In effect you are pronouncing guilt well before any trail, civil or otherwise has taken place.

Also, whatever happened to the responsiblity of the parents? They seem to have a rather large hand in seeing all of this happen as well. Were they unable to stand up to the doctors and give informed opinions? Did they seek a second or third medical opinions on if they should carry these children to term or not?

All in all, far too much opinion, conjecture, and rhetoric with far too little information for a subject which deals so closely to things held this close to many parents' fears and nightmares.

Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter

Just a thing (3.22 / 9) (#18)
by Betcour on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:13:21 AM EST

just because these children are not what society deems as ideal

Just an obvious biased way of saying "very heavily damaged". Anna Nicole Smith is ideal. Most peoples, including me, are average. Those poor kids are, unfortunately, neither ideal nor average. Someone please stop this insanity of calling every disadvantaged person with hypocritical hyperboles. !

Anna Nicole Smith?!!? (4.50 / 4) (#19)
by eyespots on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:16:00 AM EST

Ideal? Please say you are joking.

[ Parent ]
I was (4.50 / 4) (#21)
by Betcour on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:44:48 AM EST

Replace "Anna Nicole Smith" with whoever you think is ideal (although I guess it depends "ideal for what" ;o)

[ Parent ]
aaaah....Madame Curie.....(n/t) (4.75 / 4) (#24)
by eyespots on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 12:54:07 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Oh (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by TRy the egg rOLL on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 03:08:16 PM EST

I see.. in that case.. Camryn Manheim, you are truly ideal.

--
"I am seriously impressed with your gaping ass art."  -oc3
[ Parent ]
The way to solve this (3.00 / 5) (#20)
by eyespots on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:18:52 AM EST

Is just to make it standard policy to need permission of every fertilized egg to continue with its development.

EULA (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by ethereal on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 01:43:23 PM EST

I can't help but ask if this would be a "fuck-wrap" license?

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

err. no. (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by FieryTaco on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:50:36 PM EST

That would be the lack of a 'fuck-wrap' license. Or one with a loophole.

[ Parent ]
The Perruche case (4.75 / 4) (#22)
by doru on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:46:04 AM EST

A similar case in France involved a child born after the doctor failed to diagnose rubella in his mother.

Here is a short summary (in French), and here is a (highly critical) article in English.

And the children do not have to file the suit themselves, their parents (or legal guardians) can do it on their behalf.
I see Rusty's creation of Scoop as being as world changing an event as the fall of the Berlin wall. - Alan Crowe

Perruche case... not possible any more (none / 0) (#32)
by vefoxus on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:35:15 PM EST

The Perruche case should not be possible any more in France, since it used a lack of legislation. About 6 months after the end of the trial, a new legislation was passed (about a month ago) to prevent anyone to sue because of his birth. Parents are still entitled to sue in case of malpractice, though.

[ Parent ]
terrible (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by Ender Ryan on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 12:10:28 PM EST

Terrible, just terrible to be one of these children.

If the doctor screwed up, surely they may be liable, but it's really hard to say at what point it becomes the fault of the doctor for negligence or it's just plain bad luck.

It would be terrible to live with such problems, but then to have your parents say that they would have aborted you had they known... I'm not certain I'd want to hear that if I were one of these children.

Personally, I do not believe cases such as these to be nearly as simple as many people on either side make them out to be. I guess that doesn't help provide answers, but, perhaps there really are no answers...


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


Just awful (none / 0) (#37)
by Tatarigami on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:03:55 PM EST

If the doctor screwed up, surely they may be liable, but it's really hard to say at what point it becomes the fault of the doctor for negligence or it's just plain bad luck.

Yup, hearing a little home truth like that could warp your whole perspective. And then there's only one course of action open to you.

Sue your parents.

Then sue their parents for not raising them to be well-adjusted and giving individuals. Lather, rinse, repeat.

True, they may be physically, mentally and emotionally crippled for life -- but you know what makes that all better? Owning your own tropical island in the Pacific. </CYNICAL>

[ Parent ]
Note on line drawing (4.00 / 3) (#29)
by aphrael on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:16:43 PM EST

In practice, at least in most of the US, the line is *not* drawn at birth, but rather somewhat before; except in cases of severe health risk to the mother, a fetus in the 8th month of pregnancy can not be aborted under prevailing law in most of the US.

Negligence? (4.87 / 8) (#31)
by WebBug on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:27:37 PM EST

1) The doctor's apparently commited no negligent acts. Vasectomies are not 100%. Rubella can cause birth defects. Not all genetic diseaes have screening tests.

2) At what point does the Doctor's duty extend to the unborn child? Canadian law says at 21 weeks. But . . .

3) A patient has the ultimate responsibility for their own long term health. No Doctor can or should have the involvement with your health that you did. In other words, you should be far more concerned and interested in your health than your Doctor, if you aren't you pretty deserve what you get! Do make at least a little effort to understand what is happening to you and the consequences of various treatments.

Yes, you have to rely upon Doctors to provide you with the information to make an informed decision. But how far does the Doctor have to go in informing you? A tricky question at best. I believe that a Doctor should at least inform the patient of the major known risks with any procedure or disease. But beyond that?

4) Wrongful life obviously cannot be the Doctor's responsiblity UNLESS the Doctor can FORCE a parent to have an abortion. Until that point arrives there is no way what-so-ever that you can even begin to claim that a Doctor caused a wrongful life. It is a stupid argument, hardly worthy of the school yard let alone a court of law.

A Doctor may be charged with some form of negligence leading to a less than idylic life, but only if there is a direct and recognized causal relationship in which the normal standard of care was not followed.

For example, if a person is harmed because a Doctor performed some act that IS standard, but was previously UNKOWN to cause harm, then the Doctor cannot be held liable because there is no way the Doctor COULD have known that harm would ensue.

5) That is not to even mention whether abortion is even acceptable as a standard of practice, let alone genetic screening, in-vitro virtilization, vaccination, and countless other highly contentious issues.

Summary: We too often foist the responsibility for our bad decisions upon others. Perhaps we need to make people responsible for their own actions. I'm not saying which is the case here, I don't know, there clearly isn't enough information readily available to make an informed decision. I am saying that issues like this are so full of unresolved issues that any meaningful discussion of any one aspect in isolation from the other unresolved issues is too difficult.

As a society, we need to develope standards of behaviour that apply equally across all segments of society. Every citizen should have to explicity state that they understand their obligations to society and their responsibilities within that society. Perhaps it is time, after all, for a real social contract, to be signed before one can be granted ones majority within society.
-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
Information Overload and/or Lockdown (none / 0) (#75)
by MVpll on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:15:48 AM EST

To start with an aside, it is only the media which is calling it "wrongful life", those involved explicitily stated that it wasn't a "wrongful life" case.

How do you draw the line on what information is "general knowledge"? Not everyone knows that Rubella can cause birth defects, even fewer know the firing order of the pistons in their car's engine. Plenty of people have poisonous plants growing (even cultivated) in their gardens, blissfully unaware of this hazard.

Surely the point of going to a doctor is to receive medical advice and, if needed, treatment. If the patient is already completely versed in medicine, they would probably be a doctor...

So in your ideal society you expect everyone to know everything about everything, absolving them of the need to rely on the professional advice of anyone but themselves.

As another aside the AMA (Australian Medical? Association) until recently were a law unto themselves, far worse then any trade union. They had complete say over the number of new doctors trained each year and which overseas training would be recognised as able to practice in Australia. The possiblity of suing a doctor for malpractise was unheard of and the chances of a successful criminal prosecution were low, generally the best that could be hoped for was a doctor may be unable to practise for a number of years. Of course the lawyers are now showing the doctors how they can do it better.



[ Parent ]
Actually no . . . (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by WebBug on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 12:57:29 PM EST

Actually, I didn't say that a patient has to have ANY medical knowledge at all. What I said was that you as an individual have to make sure that you UNDERSTAND what you are being told and the potential impact upon your life. You cannot assume that all will be blissfully perfect just because you want it to be.

To use your example, I don't know the first thing about cars and never will. I haven' t the interest, except as it impacts my life. Before consigning my car to a mechanic, I investigated the mechanic. I asked for a referal list, and I contacted several of those on the list at random. I also asked several people who were in the queue waiting for their vehicle. Further more, I asked to see documentary evidence of their competence. Each time my vehicle goes in and something needs to be done, I ask, what is related to this, what else can go wrong because this is being done? Is there anything that I will be required to do, or should do, or might want to do as result of this service? You get the idea?

I take responsibility for my car. I make sure that it receives the proper service and that the service is done properly. If NOT then I hold the mechanic responsible and I make it clear to the mechanic that I WILL hold them responsible for what they do to my car.

Health care is the same, only you should be far more concerned about it than your car. That is why they are expert and you are not, but they cannot know your level of knowledge and they cannot spend all day giving you a complete education. However, they SHOULD be made to answer ALL your questions and concerns.

I don't know at what point we say a Doctor has provided you with sufficient information, as I said previously. That is a decision that society has to make, not me. It is also a decision that society has avoided making because we don't like the complex moral issues involved. We shy away from these important decisions because we are afraid that to make them will offend one group or another. Result, we have a system that totally un-workable. Sigh!

Secondly, I don't expect that even an "expert" can know everything about the field they are expert in. It is important as a consumer of expert services that you understand that there are limits to their expertise.

All I'm saying is that you are responsible for your life, make the most of it.


-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
[ Parent ]
Peter Singer's Arguments (4.57 / 7) (#34)
by feisty chicken on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 03:03:28 PM EST

Let me correct some misunderstandings here...

It is absolutely crucial to understand the argument Peter Singer makes. He takes the total view. If abortion a "defective" fetus allows for the couple to conceive again and bring in a healthy child, which would not otherwise be brought into this world, he asks if there may be a moral obligation to do so. The moral obligation seems to come from the obligation to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.

It is important to recognize that drawing a line at conception is just as arbitrary as drawing a line at birth, third trimester or anywhere else.

His argument on allowing euthanasia up to the first month of a child's life comes from the reality that a lot of defects cannot be detected before birth, or are a result of a botched up birth process. If:

a. A baby is born with severe damage of some form

b. No one can adopt the baby

c. The euthanasia will allow for the parents to have another child they would not otherwise have, a child that would be healthy.

Is there not an obligation to prevent the unnecessary pain and suffering?

It is absolutely crucial to spend some time analyzing Peter Singer's arguments in full, as what he presents is nothing less than a completely new system of ethics, a system which rejects the absolute sanctity of life for a system that considers preventing suffering as the first goal. Rejecting his arguments without fully considering what he's saying is ignorant. Fully considering what he's saying and then rejecting his arguments is near impossible.

near impossible? (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by akp on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 12:58:23 AM EST

Fully considering what he's saying and then rejecting his arguments is near impossible.

Well, I don't know about that. I mean, anyone who actually believes that Adam was given dominion over the rest of the creatures of the Earth will probably not buy Singer's arguments. And I think that there are several practical problems with some of his ideas, especially with the proposition that it's immoral to live on more than $20,000 a year instead of giving all excess of that to charity. I also have some serious problems with the idea that somehow or another we are obliged to bring as much happy life into the world that we can. I, for one, would say that prospective parents of a severely disabled child would be morally right to abort it if they wished even if they were not going to have another (hopefully healthy) child to replace it. So I think that it would be a bad idea to imply that Singer's moral system is the end-all of ethical discussion.

Of course, I happen to think that Singer is right on target for the most part. Moving away from this idea that all human life is sacred in a way completely different from how other living beings are morally valuable would be a great step forward. Many of the ideas that he proposes would help make our social ethics much more consistent, which would be kind of nice. And, of course, I'm always in favor of making our morality more secular and rational rather than pulling it just from religious tradition. I wouldn't call Singer's philosophy perfect, but I do think that it would be good if more people read it.

As long as we're talking about misconceptions about Singer's views... I think that it's important to mention that Singer's view on euthanasia for newborns is a bit more complicated than has been presented. First of all, unlike the implication that I got from the article, Singer does not propose that it would be moral to kill disabled people. Instead, he states that human babies do not become 'people' until at least a few months after birth. Before that time, they are not intellectually developed enough to be full moral actors. Of course, children do have moral importance even before they are 'people', but that importance derives from the care of their parents towards them, not from their own desires. Once they reach a sufficient age and mental development to be considered people, though, they get the full rights of people, and should not have their disabilities held against them. There is a distinct, if subtle, difference between saying that a person's parents would have been morally justified in putting them to death when they were born, and saying that the person does not deserve to live. Unfortunately, many people seem to think that Singer holds the latter view, and have (I believe unfairly) villified him for it.

-allen



[ Parent ]
Boundries (none / 0) (#68)
by avani on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 03:36:24 AM EST

On the whole, I also found myself agreeing with Mr. Singer up until a certain point when I realized that by his rubric, I would not have been born. There are several diseases which are miserable in childhood, but start to decrease significantly in intensity by the time that puberty hits. Thus, by Singer's arguement, this decreases the happiness of the parent and should be replaced by a healthy child, where I selfishly say that my net happiness (and probably my parents also since I left home) has increased enough that I haven't skewed the overall balance he wants to maintain. Also there are those who have conditions like cystic fibrosis who are almost gauranteed to not have full lifespans, but can enjoy what life they've got, albiet with some financial burden on the parents. Basically, I am opposed to this whole idea except in clear cases where you can say that a.) the child will die in early childhood or live without awareness, in which case I agree, or b.) you've got a perfectly healthy blue-eyed blond haired kid, in which case it lives. Everything in between is at levels of iffiness I'm not comfortable leaving up to anyone but the children themselves to decide (I'm definitly for voluntary euthanasia, as long as counseling is mandatory).

[ Parent ]
Family impact (5.00 / 13) (#38)
by rolfpal on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:06:36 PM EST

As a former parent of a severly disabled (blind w severe cerebral palsy) child, I want to tell you that you need resources to care for a disabled child. A court case is one of the only avenues open to you as a parent. Caring for a disabled adult child is an onerous full time job that allows very little time off, no pay, only expenses.

Government assistance is usually very light, unless you are willing to give your child to a Childrens Aid Society WHILE THEY ARE STILL CHILDREN. That usually involves claiming that you are an incompenant or dangerous parent.

My son died in his teens, I have met parents whose children lived to be fifty or sixty who still relied on care (diapering, feeding, bathing, entertainment etc.) from their eighty year old parents.

We as a society have not come to grips with the reality that our medically advanced system saves children that would have died in previous generations. We do not have any reasonable way of sharing the burden that the birth of a disabled child places upon families.

closest to the point (4.66 / 6) (#50)
by arcoiris on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 07:33:57 PM EST

Of all of the comments, this one from a parent who has lived through the experience is the ONLY one that doesn't so blatantly miss the point of this lawsuit. The suit is not about frivolously getting money or debasing human life. While there are glaring examples of stupid lawsuits, most of this kind are for an entirely different reason -

IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO FORCE THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO WAKE UP AND TAKE A LOOK AT HOW OUR CULTURE IS EFFECTING QUALITY OF LIFE.

Until the horrors of any similar experiences land directly on our doorsteps, we never think twice about what many people go through on a day to day basis. In general, we rarely consider how the convienences we take for granted (driving our car half a mile to work, using an extra gallon of water so that we can leave the faucet on while brushing our teeth...) are directly impacting those around us.

This lawsuit is about waking Americans up to the fact that something needs to be done to address a hard, out-of-control reality that forces many people to horrifying levels of desperation.

They are not saying that, since these children are not "ideal" the parents should not have had to have them; they are saying HELP! Healthcare in this country is far too expensive. Communal support nearly does not exist. Options are not available.

This lawsuit is about waking the public and the law up to the fact that a policy, a network, a system of support needs to be established.



[ Parent ]
Negligence isn't the way (4.50 / 2) (#57)
by cthugha on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:43:38 PM EST

The suit is not about frivolously getting money or debasing human life.

I agree about the plaintiffs' intent, but the inescapable legal consequence of their cases succeeding will be a cheapening of human life in a "they'd be better off dead" sense. You have to remember that in one case (the rubella case) it is alleged that the doctor was negligent in not giving the parent the option to terminate. What if the doctor had given the advice? Does that transfer any liability onto the parent (where a child may claim that the parent was given advice to terminate but negligently chose to ignore the advice)? Remember that the children, and not the parents, are suing. I for one do not wish to live in a society where the mere act of giving birth may give rise to legal liability.

This lawsuit is about waking Americans up to the fact that something needs to be done to address a hard, out-of-control reality that forces many people to horrifying levels of desperation.

I fail to see how an Australian lawsuit (and Australia is a country with half-way decent, although far from perfect, health care and disability support) will wake Americans up to the appalling state of health care in their country, especially considering that several successful wrongful life actions in America have failed to do so already.

They are not saying that, since these children are not "ideal" the parents should not have had to have them; they are saying HELP! Healthcare in this country is far too expensive. Communal support nearly does not exist. Options are not available.

Negligence law isn't about taking a burden away, it's about transferring that burden onto the shoulders of another person. If we accept the proposition that the parents and children do not deserve their misfortune, should we not also accept that the doctor, who arguably has not done anything wrong, does not deserve it either?

This lawsuit is about waking the public and the law up to the fact that a policy, a network, a system of support needs to be established.

Given Americans' negative attitudes about federal spending on large-scale social programs like national health care ("Our tax dollars are for our benefit, goddamnit!"), I don't see this happening, no matter how many court actions you bring. The only reaction you'll get is from the right-wing radio shock-jocks flaming about the 'insanity' of the legal system.



[ Parent ]
too pessimistic (none / 0) (#73)
by arcoiris on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:40:44 AM EST

Thanks for pointing out my mistake - I read too quickly and forgot about the suit being Australian. I do not know what the Australian social network is like, but at this current stage in US history, we are about as bad socially as any wealthy, first world nation can be. Why? Because our entire social policy is based upon selfishness.

You make this point in your response, but go so far as to say that it will never be possible to make the citizens of the US think twice about this fact (in other words). The logical part of me says that you are right, but I would love to be optimistic, perhaps naive, and think that at some point the RIGHT manipulative media will start to make people think twice about how they spend their daily lives.

As far as who the burden is being placed on: this lawsuit (if I actually did pay attention in my introductory law class) won't place the burden of responsibility on the doctor. It will place it on everyone. Which is where it should be. We are an interconnected group of human beings, and to ignore the burdens of our neighboors is only to deny that eventually those burdens will have something to do with us, as well.

The legal system is the only way today for anyone without loads of cash to make a statement and attempt to make a change. And, unfortunately, lawyers will only take on cases that they can win - cases that either have some precedent, or that can be described in existing legal langauge so that a precedent can be set. I can't think of what they could have done differently in order to get their troubles heard. If you have ideas, or know something that I don't, I'm all for learning about them.



[ Parent ]
Perhaps (none / 0) (#87)
by cthugha on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:55:01 AM EST

The logical part of me says that you are right, but I would love to be optimistic, perhaps naive, and think that at some point the RIGHT manipulative media will start to make people think twice about how they spend their daily lives.

Far be it for me to comment on US domestic politics from the position of an outsider. I will say that I have noticed one difference in the respective mindsets of the US and Australian body politics: the US regards principles of state autonomy, limitation of federal power, etc as being absolutely paramount, almost regardless of the cost. In Australia, although these are considered to be good principles, they are not adhered to with such rigidity that they stand in the way of good and effective public policy making. Virtually nobody here seriously considers the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government to levy income tax as being evil and tyrannical.

As far as who the burden is being placed on: this lawsuit (if I actually did pay attention in my introductory law class) won't place the burden of responsibility on the doctor. It will place it on everyone.

The basic theory of tort is that the burden of the consequence of a legally recognized wrong (not a mere accident; the law of negligence is not concerned with making the world a safe place, merely trying to stop it from being preventably unsafe by discouraging reckless or dangerous behaviour, so to speak) is transferred from the shoulders of the victim to that of the wrongdoer through a monetary payment from wrongdoer to victim. The actual practice is that doctors and others likely to be the defendants in negligence actions take out liability insurance, and we do pay through an economic ripple effect, specifically through higher insurance premiums (which we may receive second-hand through, e.g., re-insurers increasing their premiums on the kind of primary insurers, like health, life, and property insurers, that you or I would use). Of course, if the risk of legal action becomes high enough (through allowing legally questionable actions to succeed), then liability insurance premiums will rise to the point where doctors will not be able to afford cover, and the burden will be back on doctors' shoulders.

There are ways around this. One such way would be to establish a publicly-funded, no-fault medical accident compensation scheme, where the state recovers its costs through a conventional negligence action where appropriate (most Australian states already have similar schemes in place for accidents in the workplace, the principal difference being that payments are capped, and if you want more you have to sue your employer for negligence). A better way (IMO) is simply to offer better disability support so that disabled people, regardless of the cirumstances under which they acquired their disability, get decent support.

The legal system is the only way today for anyone without loads of cash to make a statement and attempt to make a change.

Lawyers, unfortunately, are not cheap, and legal aid generally only comes to the aid of defendants in criminal matters. And since the media usually make a complete hash of reporting decisions (complex legal issues simply don't fit into a seven-second soundbite, and it seems most journalists aren't adequately trained to report them accurately) the message is usually lost.

And, unfortunately, lawyers will only take on cases that they can win - cases that either have some precedent, or that can be described in existing legal langauge so that a precedent can be set.

Unfortunately, since lawyers get paid regardless of whether they win or lose, they may take a case even if they know it doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding. It's not so bad in Australia (I think that's because of the way that the legal profession is structured here, but that's a matter for considerabl debate) but it still happens.



[ Parent ]
Thank you (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by pietra on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 12:31:49 AM EST

for bringing this issue up. I have a good friend whose mother has spent the past 30 years caring for a mentally disabled son. He fell through a frozen lake at age 3 1/2, was barely resucitated after nearly half an hour, and has never grown mentally or emotionally. Her entire life since then has involved providing constant care for someone who is nearly 6 feet tall, weighs 200 pounds, and still locks her car keys in the door when he wants to get her attention. She's bitter, angry, and miserable. She's also devoted and loving. It's a horrible thing to have to live with for *either* parent or child. There are joys and blessings from any child, true, but you've got to figure out whether or not you can survive. Our society is still in the phrenology stage, as far as that goes.

[ Parent ]
What if... (2.87 / 8) (#39)
by ihafarm on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:12:06 PM EST

What if Stephen Hawkings parents had decided to end his pre-natal development? -Michael

Bad example (none / 0) (#41)
by uweber on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:48:22 PM EST

Although a good point Hawking's illness did not become evident untill he was in his 20s.

[ Parent ]
What if... (none / 0) (#43)
by Captain_Tenille on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:51:24 PM EST

... you had been aware that Stephen Hawking didn't come down with ALS until he was in his 20's? The pre-natal thing doesn't even remotely apply here.
----
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!
[ Parent ]

he's not totally wrong (none / 0) (#45)
by eyespots on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:10:34 PM EST

you could screen an embryo for increased chance of getting ALS (say by examining their SOD gene).

Of course, 90% of ALS cases are sporadic, so you couldn't screen for them- but at least you could see if their SOD gene was screwed up.

[ Parent ]

Someone else (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by medham on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:17:16 PM EST

Would have made his discoveries. Humans are just vessels for the armada of Ideas through history.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

well... (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by dougb on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:20:26 PM EST

Hawking wasn't disabled at birth, he didn't show serious symptoms of ALS until he was in college. Read what he has to say about his disability in his own words: http://www.hawking.org.uk/text/disable/disable.html

I'm not going to touch the "you might be killing the next Einstein" argument with a ten foot pole.

[ Parent ]

Well I will.... (none / 0) (#86)
by katie on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:00:52 AM EST

Every baby born hides a couple of pregnancies that never got properly started, and a million sperm that never got a chance to fertilise an egg. In those million possible-people how many geniuses? Every person alive is there instead of both better and worse people, and there's no way to pick.

[ Parent ]
Doctors (3.14 / 7) (#40)
by SlickMickTrick on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:33:02 PM EST

It is interesting, that back in the 1600's when a doctor would quickly tell you the only treatment for your flu was blood letting, they were highly respected.

Now, for the first time in our Technicolor history, doctors actually practice evidence based medicine. They can't sell their secret formula for colds, unless they can prove with a double blind cross over test that they actually work. For the first time in history, the western world is walking right over doctors.

As they actually become skilled at keeping people alive, challenging the technological forefront of medicine, they come under the pressure of public outrage and lawsuits when they can't perform 100%.

Now I completely support the immediate removal of a doctors position if they are incompetent, and retribution for those who were injured, but suing as a practice is being abused, and doctors have lost the respect they once had.

What's the lesson learned? Practice mumbo jumbo, and never give people what they need.

It's simple (4.50 / 2) (#48)
by epepke on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 06:20:09 PM EST

If physicians can't do anything to help most of the time, they will get the credit when the patient gets better.

If physicians help most of the time, they will get the blame for when it doesn't work.

People expect health. They expect to survive childbirth and childhood and be perfectly fine. A hundred years ago this would have been an idiotic expectation. Now it's expected, mostly due to the advances in medicine and auxiliary advances (such as sanitation).


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
A dilemma for a transitioning species (4.00 / 7) (#44)
by edpowers on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:05:26 PM EST

First we should ask ourselves, "Why is life so precious?" The answer used to be an obvious "Because!" It was obvious because there were stories of plagues, wars, floods, famines, and droughts that wiped ancient cities out or decimated populations. Female life in particular seemed to be of value probably becuase one guy on a weekend wine orgy could repopulate a town. I know a lot of folks will say women were marginalized and sidelined all through out our patriarchal history. True but they weren't killed in wars, just raped and pillaged. The Illiad was about a bunch of guys fighting over Helen of Troy. Lets face it, still today there's no better way to whip people into a moral frenzy then to start killing women and children. Human "Life" was good because at anytime without warning it could become scarce. The ultimate cultivator of this life-is-intrinsically-good mentality was Christianity, so much so that Christians cared for the sick, ill, dying, and even strove to love their enemies.

Cut to today. We don't need more people and it's not really clear how many more people the earth can support. Well, we would need replacement people, but not population growth. Already we've broken theoretical boundries through geneticly engineering crops to yeild more. China has over a billion people and if India doesn't they will soon. For the Christian ethos to continue to hold something ReallyBad has to happen that makes human life significantly more valuable and scarce. Something ReallyBad could happen, just look to astronomy to learn about ten different ways the earth could end and we'd have no way of stopping it. All this is happening just as we are on the cusp of grabbing the reins on our own evolution. Neitchze was right (about some things, not everything) in that generations of Christian morality has weekend the human species physically. Sperm counts are down, asthma rates are up as is diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. We can start the process that reverses this trend through genetic removal of diseases. If this process comes to fruition it will compound the population problem. We're a little hesitant to provide ourselves with evolutionary guidance becuase we've never done it before and it could have ramifications we currently are unable to forsee. Whether or not you personally agree doesn't really matter because one of two possibilities exists. 1)Either something ReallyBad, or a series on NotAsBadButStillSucky events will occur and Christian morality will rein supreme for the forseeable future. Or 2)We will take responsibilty for our future as a species and start making descisions regarding what we want humans to be in that future. Personally I think Malthus was right and the only check on human population is misery. Thus what will most likely happen is situation 1) followed by a long recovery period followed by 2).

My point? The only reason the article is a question is because during this moral cross fade we can see both sides of the coin.

Sorry if this seems Off Topic but the story just got me thinking....

It's A Disservice! (4.16 / 6) (#49)
by Lethyos on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 07:22:30 PM EST

Life is precious, I certainly agree. But if you are deaf, blind, mentally retarded, and must be confined to care 24-hours a day, you're aren't living. If respiration is all you can feasibly do, you're not alive. A machine can do that.

This attitude that "life is precious, even if it sucks" is reserved for those who have no sense of compassion. These same people cry who cry that abortion and prenatal screening are unnatural are silent when these pitiful people are kept on life support systems their entirely lives. Without such support, they would be dead days or even hours out of the womb. In these situations, abortion isn't an unjust or immoral act... it's an act of mercy.

Challenge any die-hard pro-life advocate here to imagine themselves unable to think, unable to type... unable to process any information effectively because of disabilities like those mentioned in this article. Would you still want to be alive? Would you want to live with perpetual care? Would you not care that you might not even realize your condition? Do this without being a hypocrite.

I for one hope they are successful in their pursuit. It will make doctors think twice before trying force life when it would be better left unattended.

earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath; fire, my spirit
The Big "What If?" (4.00 / 3) (#52)
by mold on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 08:46:31 PM EST

I believe that the reason family members keep their disabled on life support, or whatever, is not that they just think that life shouldn't ever end prematurely (and who's to say what that means, even?), but that they're holding out for that one technology that will fix everything and allow their kinsman to live a perfectly normal life.

There have been studies shown to have, on average, tripled the intelligence of mice when given a certain chemical. What if this technology reached humans soon, and mental retardation is then no longer an issue? And this obviously isn't the only advancement being worked on right now.

That is why people are on life support. If it was felt that there would be no possible recovery soon, then I'm sure most families would gladly end the suffering of said family member. However, technology is advancing at an incredible rate, and it is not unknown for a field to suddenly have a giant surge forward. And families know this, and so they wait.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
it will be a game, like at the county fair (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by Mclaren on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:06:47 PM EST

Are we going to have a point system to determine who lives, and who dies? So if the baby is severely retarded and deformed, we off it. What if he/she is extremely retarded, but looks "normal"? or what if they are disformed, but of normal intelligence? or what if they are stupid and clumsy? or what if they are ugly? you can't just decide who's gonna live and who's not. I'm not Pro-Life, but saying It will make doctors think twice before trying force life when it would be better left unattended. is absolutely awful.

[ Parent ]
Nature chooses... parents should too. (none / 0) (#56)
by Lethyos on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:42:59 PM EST

Are we going to have a point system to determine who lives, and who dies?

A system for this is already in place. It's called "nature". I know that sounds like a cop-out, but think about it. I look at it in the sense of survivability. Can this person live without external support (aside from normal functions like ingesting foods, breathing, etc). If not, to what extent?

But aside from the "nature" cop-out (which I disagree with)... I don't think it's too difficult for a parent to grasp the situation. Are they themselves willing to care for such a horribly dependent child? If they are willing, they should still be open to the possibility of abortion. *THAT* choice falls on the parents, and not some other institution or establishment. There's one problem...

Parents are not encouraged to evaluate the quality of the life of their child-to-be. I'm sure physicians could indicate to parents situations that may affect the quality of life for their unborn. They can make the decision at that point. It seems these doctors, who brought these three babies in the world, did not offer enough information to the parents for them to really consider this factor.

But take it how you will. Personally, when my beloved and I choose to have children, we will ensure we give the best life possible to those children. If we discover that life is going to be utterly wrought with suffering (aside from what a person must deal with anyway) we will choose mercy. (Note I say "we will choose", not the government or whoever...)

earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath; fire, my spirit
[ Parent ]
Does taking care of someone entitle you to murder (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by root2 on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:05:24 PM EST

If we follow your statement that it's the parents' decision because they're the ones taking care of the child, then - why stop at deformities or other medical problems ? Many irresponsible parents, after a while, find it too difficult taking care of their children. Should we allow them to kill these children ? What about irresponsible kids who don't want to take care of their aged and infirm parents - should we also allow these children to kill their parents ?

Heck, while we're at it, in any state with any ideas of welfare, the state is the one taking care of the poor. So it's the state's decision - wonderful way to solve Social Security, just kill all the poor.

If I had a .sig, it would go here.
[ Parent ]
Straw man, slippery slope... (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by Khalad on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 03:14:00 AM EST

Good lord, man. That's one of the worst arguments I've ever read. I think you actually managed to fit more logical and rhetorical fallacies into that post than you did words.

Simply astounding.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
you're missing the point (none / 0) (#80)
by velex on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 12:32:24 PM EST

The point is, if the child is born such that it can't live without a bunch of machines and drugs, should it live?



[ Parent ]
The line? (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by linca on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:30:31 PM EST

Problem with this is, where do you put the line between those that can be disposed of and those that can't? 60 of IQ? once the spermatozoid touches the ovule? Once the spermatozoid leaves the testicle? Once there is live nerves in the foetus?

I think, for example, the limit should be set to, say, 5 months of pregnancy. But most essentially, we as a society must come to some kind of consensus and decide of a moment where a group of cells all carrying the same set of genes can't be disposed of anymore. Because, well, we need a society (I am speaking ofthe whole world here...) where murder should be illegal ; so the line's better not be too slippery.

[ Parent ]
Argument is actually cut and dry in my opinion. (none / 0) (#58)
by Lethyos on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:47:34 PM EST

The foetus is human being when there is brain activity. In this country, a person is legally dead when there is no more brain activity. Why should a person not be legally alive when there is brain activity? I think that makes perfect sense. Of course, I try to look at this objectively and without religious dogma entering into the picture. When dealing with these kinds of issues, I prefer working with something we can detect, understand, and agree upon. Almost nobody in various religious communities can agree on anything, so there's no grounds to begin an argument there.

earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath; fire, my spirit
[ Parent ]
pigs have brain activity (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by linca on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:00:02 PM EST

That doesn't make them humans either. And what do you make of other vitals function? Since it would be illegal to abort a foetus with an active brain, how would it be legal to dismount an artificial organ from someone needing it? How do you allow Do Not Reanimate, for instance?

My meaning is that the line need not be rational ; law never is. There must be a line, be it 3 month before or after birth (Romans of old did not consider a toddler as a member of society before his father accepted him as son, at three years old...)

On the same edge, I have difficulty understanding how Pro-Life Americans can in the same breath refuse the notion of abortion, thus forcing a mother to feed a foetus she does not want, but call theft a tax to give universal, life saving health care.

[ Parent ]
In what country? (3.50 / 2) (#74)
by tekue on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:41:03 AM EST

[..] when there is brain activity. In this country, a person is legally [..]
In what country?
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
Who's Cost? (4.50 / 6) (#51)
by blkros on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 07:34:40 PM EST

My cousin Chuck Chuck (that what everyone called him) was born with cerebral palsey, and didn't live to see his 30th birthday. You couldn't have found anyone happier, or sweeter than Chuck. If my aunt and uncle had had prenatal screening, Chuck might not have been born, and our family would have missed out on this extraordinary person. Yes, it was a burden on my aunt--she never once complained, she loved him so much. No one is guaranteed an easy life, stuff happens, doctors aren't gods, they can make mistakes. Medical science isn't perfect. I personally think that these parents, who are suing on behalf of "the children", are complete asses. Maybe someone should ask the children whether they enjoy living, or not.

What if "life" began at 3 months? (4.75 / 4) (#53)
by wytcld on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 08:57:49 PM EST

A great amount of suffering and wasted resources could be avoided if society simply declared that a baby isn't human until after three months, and that abortions can be practiced up to that point. From a neuroscience viewpoint, the infant's brain is still mostly unconnected before three months. Sure, a few parents would kill post-birth fetuses with no good reason; but society is better off without such parents raising them to be older, anyway.

And remember, aborted is better than born again!

A historical note: (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by pietra on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 12:08:51 AM EST

Up until the middle of the eighteenth century, it was not uncommon for parents to refer to their children solely as "the baby" (never by given name) until they were about 2 or so. The simple reason for this practice was to avoid becoming overly attached to something that had at least a 50% chance of dying. Seriously. In addition, it was very common for parents to name several, simultaneously living siblings (usually male) the same name, eg. John, John, and John Smith. I ran into these rather odd practices in the midst of writing a paper on Victorian child-rearing attitudes, and how much they'd changed from earlier times. The book in question cited *hundreds* of church registers and baptism records, and also a similar quantity of diaries in which an infant is born, dies a few months later, and is never once referred to by name.

[ Parent ]
babies... (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by chiller on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:03:05 AM EST

In the UK the crime of "infanticide" by the mother is still treated differently to "murder" under law. Whether this is because of post-partum depression or whether it is in recognition of the fact that unwanted babies were routinely disposed of (for a variety of reasons, and disability is probably a minority among them); I am not sure.

[ Parent ]

Indeed. (none / 0) (#85)
by bakuretsu on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:41:47 PM EST

And what of the early Greeks and Romans who, upon giving birth to a crippled or deformed child, merely left the baby in the woods to die of starvation or to be eaten by bears?

Probably one of the earliest eugenic techniques, and easily one of the more grotesque, but if you are capable of distancing yourself from the human element, humanity benefits by it.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]
You must be a very sad person (4.00 / 2) (#66)
by inadeepsleep on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 03:11:32 AM EST

Back in the 60's, here in the USA, one of the liberals' favorite epithets for representatives of the military-industrial complex was "babykillers".

How times have changed.


[ Parent ]
Vasecomies (3.66 / 3) (#59)
by malcolm on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:51:49 PM EST

I know a doctor who was sued by a couple who had a child after he performed a vasectomy on the man.

According to him, vasectomies are about 70% effective, as the tubes may heal naturally back together. Testing over a long period and repeat operations are necessary to be sure of it. Accordingly, I don't think the second case holds much water.

As for the other 2 cases I would speculate that the outcome will probably depend on wether the tests which could have avoided these "problems" were standard medical practice at the time.

In my opinion, the responsibility for such children should lie primarily with the parents - unless of course negligence is responsible for the condition itself.


My Point Being... (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by ihafarm on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 11:45:08 PM EST

Even if you are born as a "normal" baby there is no telling what will happen to you later in life. To me the essence of this piece is that "Critics claim that pre-natal screening poses no benefits for the child and is generally used "as a means of finding out if the baby is good enough or perfect enough to be allowed to live"." If you allow people to make these kinds of choices based on pre-existing conditions(being born with a mental/physical disease) they would not just apply to being born with that problem, but would apply to those that, like Hawking, develop those problems later in life. We all know that creativity and mental problems often go hand in hand. Take John Nash, as a recent popular example. Jackson Pollack in the same vein. I shouldn't have to give you examples, you should know. Would any parent say "Oh, sure! I want to raise a child that in it's mid-20's will develop a debilitating disease!" Of course not. My point is that if you give an inch, they're going to take a mile. "Oh, this baby will have a 35% chance of dying from colon cancer? Does that make his life worthwhile?" Expand on the article's immediate point...you people get so tied up in one place without taking an issues to it's end. -Michael

read before you write (4.00 / 2) (#77)
by chiller on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 10:59:03 AM EST

You clearly didn't read the whole article - people are defined as sentient in it once they become aware of their own individuality and persistence in time (I have reworded the definition - but that is the core of it). It wouldn't take much effort to demonstrate that not only has Hawking BEEN aware of himself as an individual and as something which has continued existence; but he still very much IS aware of those things (in fact, few are as well placed to communicate that awareness as Hawking!).

At the point where that changed, would he still wish to live?

That is up to him. But prior to any such change - Hawking, regardless of the condition of his body is very much sentient and human.

The same would apply to an adult who suffered from, say, manic depression or schizophrenia. That person may be mad - but that does not preclude their understanding that they are a person, and that they persist. Mad people usually have a pretty good grasp on the fact of their own existence. It's the fact of other people's existence that they occasionally have trouble with. (Alright, that last bit was tongue-in-cheek).

The argument contained in the article concerned the destruction of life in cases where the person had not yet developed an awareness of themself as a separate person. The argument is that an infant has no sense of self, no "self-consciousness" as such. I couldn't find any logical disagreement with that statement.

Can you?

[ Parent ]

That's it... (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by ihafarm on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 03:06:51 PM EST

You totally ignored what I said...if parents have this option(pre-natal screenings) and find that their child will eventually deveop a debilitating disease of the mind and or body would they let their child be born? What criteria would you use? Oh, he's got a good 20-30 years, but after that it's just shit...That was my point. Nothing to do with the child's(that could become a sentient adult that wants to live despite their problems) own individual conciousness, but with the parents decision on that level. Bleg. No parent would want to raise a child into an adult that will have a horrible life. That was the point of what I was saying. -Michael

[ Parent ]
Never being born. (4.80 / 10) (#69)
by katie on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:34:08 AM EST


"Not surprisingly, many of the most vocal critics of pre-natal screening are people who were born with severe disabilities. These people recognise full well that they would not have been born had they been screened for their condition"

I was born with a brain defect. I'm fortunate in that of all the things that could go wrong with a kid this particular thing is one of the least bothersome. Although I do need medical care for things arising from it, I'm fairly articulate, well balanced and coping with it - but I know people in the same situation who aren't and don't cope well and don't have a great life.

It's not something that's going to kill me, but do I wish I didn't have it? Oh yes.

Could I have been screened for this? Not then, not yet. But possibly one day. We have no idea what the cause is yet, let alone a screening.

But if I was screened for that, and my parents had decided that it would make mine and their lives too complicated, that they'd rather have a child who was "well", how could *I* have a problem with that? *I* would never have known. There would be someone else in this space, with their own life. Would I be bothered by no-one ever been born with this condition again? No. How could I not wish a child starts their life healthy.

A person who never was is unable to grieve for themselves. Those critics *are* here. If they'd been aborted, they would be here to know about it.

I can be concerned that I will never have a "normal" life, that I'll need medical care for decades to come.. but the possibility of me never having been is not something I can worry about, any more than I can worry about the millions of other potential people who aren't here because I am.

It makes no sense to worry about not having been when you clearly already are, and the only thing criticisms of screening will do is lead more people to be born with problems. And I can't see why that's good. My life is OK, but I can't see how not being ill wouldn't have made it better...


The High Cost of Living | 93 comments (89 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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