Below is a question that was asked on a Christian Website (Christian Life Resources, Inc). I encourage you to click on the link and read the response. What are your feelings? What about any administrative responsibilities in situations like these?
QUESTION: Is it ethical to bear a child for the purpose of using bone marrow from the child to help a sibling?
2 Answers | Add Yours
You did not include a link to the article that you mention. I believe that the link below is the correct link. I am answering this question with regard to that article. Although I am somewhat conflicted by this issue, I think that it would be ethically acceptable for parents to act as the family in this story did. I say this because their reason for having a baby is no worse (and is possibly better) than some people’s reasons for having babies.
In a sense, it seems wrong to have a baby just to use its bone marrow to help its sibling. Immanuel Kant, the great philosopher, once said that it is wrong to use any human being as a means rather than as an end. This seems like a classic case of using a human being as a means. You are making a human being for the purpose of using its marrow to help someone else. By Kant’s statement of the categorical imperative, this is an improper action.
However, I would argue that people have children for all sorts of “bad” reasons. People have children simply because they failed to plan well and ended up with unwanted pregnancies. They have children because they want someone to love them. They have second or third children because they think it will be better for their existing children to have siblings. In all of these instances, they are having children for reasons that do not really have to do with the unborn child that they are conceiving.
In the case of the Ayala family, it seems like they did the right thing (if they really lived up to what they said they were going to do). The link says they were going to have the child, use its marrow, and then raise it and love it for itself. This seems no less ethical than having a child because you don’t want its sibling to be an only child and then loving that child unconditionally.
I guess I would say that it would be ethical to do this as long as you were going to love the child for itself. If you were going to treat it only as a donor and then abuse or discard or ignore it, it would be terribly unethical.
This really is a challenging debate, but considering the context and given information about the Ayala family involved, I would be okay with the bearing of a child for the purpose of giving his or her bone marrow to a sibling. I understand why people might be against it, because it may be treating a child like a tool to be used or it may be doing something to the child without his or her consent, but I think the pluses outweigh the minuses here.
For one, the parents were of pure intent. They wanted to have a child who could provide bone marrow in order to help their other child. This wasn't done for any financial profit or special interest, but to help someone they loved. And if the dad was willing to go through a reverse vasectomy just so this could be possible, you could tell they really cared about their child. This also made me believe that they would be good parents and love their newborn child as well.
Also, the conceived child would not be affected in any way aside from being a bone marrow donor. If there was no match, the parents said they would not abort it, but would love it just like any other kid. As well, the transplant was basically risk-free, so the chance of anything harm coming to the baby was slim. The child would be able to live a life almost like any other, and she would have saved her sibling in the process.
Now, every situation is different, so maybe for a family with lesser intents, I wouldn't feel the same way. However, in the context and with the Ayala family, I think what they did was okay. As for administrative responsibilities, I feel they need to allow the family to make the decision. As long as the administration doesn't believe the family is hurting anyone, they should do what they are asked.
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