Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gendercide: The war on baby girls

Killed, aborted or neglected, at least 100m girls have disappeared—and the number is rising


Mar 4th 2010 | From The Economist

This is a very interesting article from the Economist. It raises troubling questions about the lethal combination of ancient prejudice and modern technology.

Among the ethical issues these data raise is the way people in our generation are deciding--without their consent--what future generations will be like, even what our species will look like. In the new eugenics, individual decisions like sex selection via ultrasound and abortion can lead to disastrous social consequences for future generations (a huge gender imbalance with hordes of young males untamed by the traditional lifescript of marriage and family), consequences for which no-one is accountable. Few would object to genetic engineering to eliminate muscular dystrophy, but to create super-athletes, or enhanced memory, height, or other genetic traits of our children? Or consider the controversy over the Maryland lesbian couple, Duchesneau and McCullough, themselves deaf, who sought a sperm donor to ensure as far as possible that the baby would be deaf. (They succeeded in having a baby born deaf by design.)

A couple of recent books--by two of my favorite authors--address these troubling issues in a serious, accessible, interesting way: Michael Sandel (The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering) and Juergen Habermas, (The Future of Human Nature).

In the third of his Theses on Feuerbach (1845), Marx points out the authoritarian implications of social engineering by experts or utopians: "The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated. Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society."

Cannot precisely the same point be made about genetic engineering when aimed at selective breeding of humans--it divides people into the breeders and the bred?

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