Friday, October 12, 2001

How far would you go?

How far would you go to help your special-needs child?

Most of us, I suspect, feel that we would go very far indeed. We fight hard for our children’s rights. We battle recalcitrant child study teams, inflexible specialists, balky insurance companies, insensitive people. We demand research, treatment, accommodation, understanding. We try out new treatments and ideas. We are zealous, and we are unwavering. We may feel there is nothing we wouldn’t do to save our children.

But would you create a new child specifically to save the child you have?

A British couple is in the news now for trying to do just that. Their son has a rare blood disease and needs a bone marrow transplant. Neither the parents nor their other children is a match, and so they wish to use in vitro fertilization techniques to create a number of embryos, screen each until a match is found, and then bear that child. The new baby’s umbilical cord would provide the bone marrow his or her older brother so desperately needs.

I can understand why, emotionally, people would want to do this. I know such things have been done before. And I do think you can love a child conceived under such circumstances just as well and as individually as you would any other. But the idea of engineering a child as yet another form of medical treatment is nonetheless troubling to me. And, as one who believes that life begins at conception, the thought of destroying those embryos that do not match breaks my heart -- is it alright to start and end many lives in order to save one? I imagine that may be a hearbreaking choice for the parents who have to make it, too.

No comments: