Sunday, June 29, 2008

Difficult Problems Open Pandora's Box

Breast cancer is a horrible disease.  It has hit my own family, hard.  Apparently it hit a woman in England and her family hard also.  According to this story in The Sunday Times, her sister, mother, grandmother and cousin all had breast cancer.  Apparently members of the woman's family carried a gene that, if inherited, would leave a child with a greater than 50-50 chance of developing breast cancer.  In addition, her husband also carried the gene.

Because of the high likelihood that a child born to this couple would carry this gene, they decided to produce multiple embryos through in vitro fertilization and screen out those found to be carrying the offending gene.  Another way to say that - without all the euphemisms - is that the couple, with the help of science, created multiple children (or, at the very least - even my pro-choice readers would have to agree - potential children) and destroy the ones that they didn't like.

The couple is now pregnant and expecting a baby "guaranteed to be free from hereditary breast cancer."  The scientific community is abuzz with this wonderful development.  "Doctors say thousands of cases of breast cancer could be avoided by screening embryos."  What those doctors are really saying is quite clear . . . the world would be a better place if all of you with breast cancer (not to mention your children and grandchildren) had never been born.  You should have been eliminated before we ever got the chance to know you.

The expectant mother in this case thinks that she has done a good thing.  She is quoted as saying that because of the history of breast cancer in their families, she and her husband chose this route.  "It has been successful for us which," she said, "means we are eliminating the gene from our line.  We had been through this with [my husband's] sister being ill, so it was something we had seen first hand.  I thought this was something I had to try because, if we had a daughter with the gene, and she was ill, I couldn't look her in the face and say I didn't try."

I didn't try to do what????  Kill you before you were born!  The irony is that if this couple's family had been able to do what they have now done, their anscestors would have been eliminated and neither of them would have been born.

If this practice becomes accepted, what else will we screen for and eliminate from the gene pool?  Mental retardation?  Birth defects?  Those who might become obese?  Or bald?  What if parents really want a boy or girl, should embryos of the "wrong" gender be destroyed?  Maybe I really want a strong, fast child who can excel in athletics.  Should I be able to screen out and eliminate those who don't, or probably won't, measure up?

It is a truly horrible thing to say that you would rather your children have no life than to have a life with potential difficulties.  Facing the hardship of breast cancer in your family is difficult and tragic.  But it is no reason to revert to eugenics.


Latinmassgirl said...

Designing your children is truly horrible, and having the gene doesn't mean that you can't avoid the cancer.

Twelve years ago I belonged to Le Leche League and a local news reporter attended whose grandmother, mom and two sisters had all had and some died of breast cancer.

Her doctor told her to nurse each of her four babies for at least two years, she did and has avoided the cancer, even though she has the gene!

I had a lactation consultant at a local hospital show me a medical journal in which it stated that there has never been a recorded case of breast cancer in a woman who nursed six years or more in her life! (It doesn't have to be in a row)

Of course, to do this, that would mean that couples would have to break the two children per family "rule"!

cmziall said...

They wouldn't have to break the two children per family "rule" if they nursed them both for 3 years each! :-p Of course, the families only "wanting" two children, we'd be fortunate if they nursed them at all because the wife would probably have to go back to work. :(

All kidding aside, this is another tragic story that I'm all to familiar with. Invitro is such a "good thing" because it "helps" those people that can't conceive on their own to have an option to have THEIR OWN baby. I've had family tell me I would probably consider doing the same thing if God hadn't blessed our family the way he has. I think not. God didn't design it to work that way.

Unfortunately, this is probably only the beginning of what is to come, I'm sure. I never thought I would be witness to such atrocities in our world. . . .I just pray that all the awesome Catholics out there are doing their fair share in "reproducing" to change the mentality of our world. Our children are the future. . .let's have lots of them! :)

St. Louis Conservative said...

FYI, cmziall, one need not be Catholic to hold the correct opinion on this subject. I'm not.

cmziall said...

Maybe you should be! ;)

St. Louis Conservative said...

I expected that comment from The Tim Man.

Smiles all around.

cmziall said...

Great minds think alike. . .we were born on the same day!

Latinmassgirl said...

St. Louis Conservative,

You are clearly thinking like a Catholic, as we are the only church that has consistently stood up for pro-life issues.

As far as IVF is concerned, my husband and I attended a mandatory meeting for our impending adoption and it was filled with about 22 couples, all infertile and ALL whom had tried IVF unsuccessfully.

My husband and I were the only ones who believed that killing ones unborn children in an effort to artificially conceive a baby is always wrong.

Now, because of IVF we are starting to slide down the slippery slope and designer babies will be the norm!

St. Louis Conservative said...

Maybe Catholics are just thinking like me.

Latinmassgirl said...

Not unless you are Jesus Christ! Remember, we go back to Our Savior who gave us our first pope, Peter. Every pope since then has succeeded down to our current Pope Benedict XVI.

So, sorry SLC, you are not the one us Catholics follow, but we always welcome new Catholics. My husband is a zealous convert from the Lutheran faith, and hasn't looked back since!

Love in Christ,

St. Louis Conservative said...

Just a little joke LMG. Love to you too.

Dameon said...

Anti-Abortion is a Christion position, not just a Catholic one. And I believe the Mormons seriously outpace the Catholics when it comes to the number of children in a typical family. (And I'm not speaking of the FLDS, but of the mainstream monogomis Mormons.)

I was born and raised Catholic, but have many extended family members of other various Christian faiths. Whatever formal religion that brings you closer to the teachings of the Lord will do for me :-)

St. Louis Conservative said...

I agree with you on this one too Dameon. Many years ago in a college political science course, I ran a survey that gauged a person's involvement in religious life, measured by attendance, to their views on abortion. The conclusion . . . regular churchgoers were much more likely to be pro-life. And the denomination didn't matter much. Most of those in the survey were Christians so it didn't really shed much light on other faiths.