Of mice and men and intelligence genes

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMhotmail.com
Sun Sep 5 23:56:41 MDT 1999

>I know this issue is an ethically and politically contentious one.
>Therefore, I make the caveat, probably superfluous, that the following post
>is presented without any desire to characterize your position in a
>negative light. Rather, I think there is an important consideration that
>is missing in your argument. Maybe you have considered it. Either way, I
>would be interested in your opinion.
>On Sun, 5 Sep 1999, Carrol Cox wrote:
> >The general principle I tendered is clear enough.
>I am assuming based on this endorsement of a general principle with
>respect to abortion that sex selection via abortion is in principle
>different from sex selection via infanticide or euthanasia. It probably
>follows that race selection via abortion (and sterilization, too?) would
>also be in principle different from race selection via infanticide or

It is always different should it be done by the choice of the woman alone.
BTW, how the hell is science ever going to determine race? The father does
that, at least as far as I learned the birds and bees, anyway.

>I disagree with the argument that elimination of undesirables via abortion
>(or sterilization) differs in principle from elimination of undesirables
>via infanticide or euthanasia. While my position does not impact my stand
>on the legality of abortion, the principle is still worthy of
>consideration as an issue of ethics.

It is a valid decision to leave up to the mother to-be. I know that many
people simply could never carry a child to term and then give that child up,
nor could the same parents be capable of raising a handicapped child. I
realise the immense power in the statement that was made by the woman who
Marta quoted, but let us remember that Marta is quoting a person- not a
fetus. Perhaps what frightens you is that it reminds us all just how
vulnerable we once were when we were "potential" rather than "actual"
people. Nonetheless, it is a decision that only one in the situation can
make. Whatever you may say on the issue of "selectivity", it is a form of
judgement. As well, your post makes no reference to the immense amount of
struggle that goes into raising a mentally handicapped child, not to mention
   We already live in a society where the most underpriveliged get the most
gobbledy-gook about "morality" and Christ, etc. It is important to smash
these notions, and the people who can least afford (physically and
financially) the task of raising such people will grow, while the rich will
remain "unburdened".

>One important matter is the question of intention with respect to
>abortion. If the woman did not intend to get pregnant, or if she does not
>intend to carry the pregnancy to term, and this decision is based strictly
>on the fact of pregnancy, namely that she does not want to be, then
>abortion as an act of choice seems unquestionable. In fact, based on this
>principle, which focuses exclusively on the woman's choice, there should
>be no trimester restrictions. This is to say, since the question is not
>the status of the fetus but the woman's choice, a definite principle is
>observed; under these rules we are not concerned about the fetus's status
>because the fetus's status is irrelevant.

The fetus IS NOT HUMAN, anymore than an egg is a chicken, or a seed is a
tree. It has no rights outside of the woman, regardless of the reasoning
behind termination. You should not be concerned about "status" for any
reason. I know that you do not question legality, so your argument seems to
lead towards some form of counselling, be it before or during said

I also must object to the down's syndrome womans use of the idea: "The world
is a little more dangerous for people like me". No, this would be true in
the case (as has happened so many times, and so recently) of infanticide,
sterilization or murder. It is not a dangerous place for non-existent human
beings, as such an argument puts the potential on the same plane as the

>However, while I reiterate that I oppose any restriction on individuals
>choosing abortion, it is a different situation when pregnancy would be
>carried to term *if but for* the sex or race, etc. of the fetus. The
>question now includes the status of the fetus. For example, we should be
>concerned when cultural oppression forces women to abort female fetuses in
>the same way we should be concerned about FGM and a host of other
>restrictions on or violations of women's freedom.

I ask this: If women have abortions of potential females at, say, two weeks
in China today, is that not more humane than to kill directly after birth?
It can't work both ways, and it appears rather doubtful that the most
populous country on the planet is likely to recind the "one child policy"
any time soon.
>If the effect of sex selection in abortion is to cause a reduction in the
>number of women in a population, then this is a very good reason to become
>concerned about sex selection in any form. Whether it occurs during
>pregnancy or after pregnancy with the female infant left to die on the
>side of a mountain, the purpose and the effect is the same.

Without engaging a debate on what the magic number is (I don't think we have
reached it yet), there is a certain level where the population of the world
will have reached it's futhest point. When said limit is reached, would it
be preferable to simply starve or select those that should die? How about a
forced sterilization plan? The advent of "seeing ahead of time" will be the
most humane solution for a very undesirable position when we reach it.

>Therefore, likewise abstracting for general principles, it seems that the
>concern raised by Marta is reasonable, and that her list reasonably
>includes abortion, since the principle is not only about the woman's right
>to choose, but about cultural pressure to abort undesirable fetuses and
>prevent such fetuses from becoming human beings. A different principle is
>concerned, one that is admittedly ethically complex with respect to a
>woman's right to choose.

If we even discuss this, then we must allow for the "only rape" arguments to
be considered. It is someone's valus as per another's body. Your values
about the
always equal value of human life (which I share) are yours. Not "hers".

>If we fail to observe this difference, then we have forgotten in some
>measure the principle upon which a woman's choice is founded, namely to
>increase the freedom of women rather than to increase the number of

The number is irrelevant, not to be kept. The only people who would want
such statistics shot Dr Slepian. I sincerely hope we don't really care about
such things, they only serve to be used to reach reactionary ends.

>The lesson is, I think, that we should not abstract a woman's right to
>such an extent that social and cultural pressures do not enter into our
>ethical concerns about behaviors.
My ony ethical concerns in day to day life are about human actions which
effect others. Such concerns about things that have no bearing on me or
anyone else are purely snooping, and not at all based on any progressive
notion. The notion you speak of here is only possible should it be based on
the assumption that you consider a pregnant woman to be carrying an *actual*

>Again, to forestall any temptation to distort my view on this, I neither
>advocate or support restrictions on a woman's right to choose to have an


>Andy Austin


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