Why Worry about Deaf Babies?

England is currently deciding whether or not to legalize the use of embryo selection to produce deaf babies to accommodate deaf couples who want their children to share their soundless world. When Thomas Lifson reported this in AT, he expressed shock that such things could be permitted. I was shocked too---until I realized that this, and much worse, is the logical consequence of our legalization of abortion.

Rightly or wrongly, our legal system regards death as the greatest possible injury that one person can inflict on another. Any injury that is not likely to cause death, however degrading or disfiguring to the victim, is considered a lesser crime and carries a lighter penalty. Therefore, if any class of human beings can be legally killed, it logically follows that they can also be injured or mutilated, however horribly, without penalty to the perpetrator*. This was once the case with African slaves and is now the case with unborn babies.

By upholding Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court has declared any abuse to fetuses or embryos to be, in the parlance of English common law, Outlawed, i.e. beyond the power of legal intervention. The legalization of abortion, at the discretion of the 'mother' carrying the fetus, logically entails her right to do anything she likes with it, such as selling it---or having it manipulated or mutilated it in any way she sees fit. And if there is any logical consistency to the law, Justice Roberts and his colleagues must ignore such practices as being beyond their jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, there are markets for such mutilation. Consider the enthusiasm with which the medical community has urged the use of embryos and fetal body parts for research and organ replacements. We can hardly expect this enthusiasm to remain content with in vitro experiments. They will soon clamor for the performance of in vivo experiments, in which things are done to the fetus while it is still in the uterus of the 'mother'. There are certainly women who would allow such experiments, if the price was right or if they were desperate enough, and even more certainly there are medical researchers who would eagerly undertake such experiments. Indeed, the results might include major breakthroughs in our understanding of fetal development but the moral price for such knowledge seems rather high.

The next logical step would be the extension of such experiments to facilitate the growth of organ replacements for wealthy patients in need of them. As has been discussed elsewhere, the market for such organs is so urgent and the prices so high that such commercialization seems inevitable.

One fascinating possibility is the growth of "customized" organ replacements, wherein the patient provides the egg or sperm for the fetus so that the desired body part has a high degree of genetic compatibility to the patient. If there is any problem of matching a fetal organ to an adult patient, it might be solved by extracting the fetus from its host, well before natural birth, discarding any unneeded parts (such as the brain), and then maturing the "self-sustaining organ replacement" in vitro until the organ is ready for transplant. These processes sound extremely difficult but I have great confidence in the ingenuity of modern medical research.  

We might be able to deny the use of federal funding for such experiments but, as long as abortion is legal, we cannot logically prohibit privately funded experiments. I'm sure that Dr Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's Angel of Death, would rub his hands with glee at the experiments he could now legally perform. Poor man, he was just ahead of his time.

All of the possibilities described above are inevitable consequences of the reasoning used to justify Roe vs. Wade. So we needn't worry to much about a few deaf babies; if our country remains under the shadow of abortion, much worse is yet to come.

* The sole exception, punishment of criminals by the state, is explicitly restricted from including "cruel and unusual punishment" by the eighth amendment to the Constitution. It is significant that the framers of the Bill of Rights felt that such special protection was needed.
England is currently deciding whether or not to legalize the use of embryo selection to produce deaf babies to accommodate deaf couples who want their children to share their soundless world. When Thomas Lifson reported this in AT, he expressed shock that such things could be permitted. I was shocked too---until I realized that this, and much worse, is the logical consequence of our legalization of abortion.

Rightly or wrongly, our legal system regards death as the greatest possible injury that one person can inflict on another. Any injury that is not likely to cause death, however degrading or disfiguring to the victim, is considered a lesser crime and carries a lighter penalty. Therefore, if any class of human beings can be legally killed, it logically follows that they can also be injured or mutilated, however horribly, without penalty to the perpetrator*. This was once the case with African slaves and is now the case with unborn babies.

By upholding Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court has declared any abuse to fetuses or embryos to be, in the parlance of English common law, Outlawed, i.e. beyond the power of legal intervention. The legalization of abortion, at the discretion of the 'mother' carrying the fetus, logically entails her right to do anything she likes with it, such as selling it---or having it manipulated or mutilated it in any way she sees fit. And if there is any logical consistency to the law, Justice Roberts and his colleagues must ignore such practices as being beyond their jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, there are markets for such mutilation. Consider the enthusiasm with which the medical community has urged the use of embryos and fetal body parts for research and organ replacements. We can hardly expect this enthusiasm to remain content with in vitro experiments. They will soon clamor for the performance of in vivo experiments, in which things are done to the fetus while it is still in the uterus of the 'mother'. There are certainly women who would allow such experiments, if the price was right or if they were desperate enough, and even more certainly there are medical researchers who would eagerly undertake such experiments. Indeed, the results might include major breakthroughs in our understanding of fetal development but the moral price for such knowledge seems rather high.

The next logical step would be the extension of such experiments to facilitate the growth of organ replacements for wealthy patients in need of them. As has been discussed elsewhere, the market for such organs is so urgent and the prices so high that such commercialization seems inevitable.

One fascinating possibility is the growth of "customized" organ replacements, wherein the patient provides the egg or sperm for the fetus so that the desired body part has a high degree of genetic compatibility to the patient. If there is any problem of matching a fetal organ to an adult patient, it might be solved by extracting the fetus from its host, well before natural birth, discarding any unneeded parts (such as the brain), and then maturing the "self-sustaining organ replacement" in vitro until the organ is ready for transplant. These processes sound extremely difficult but I have great confidence in the ingenuity of modern medical research.  

We might be able to deny the use of federal funding for such experiments but, as long as abortion is legal, we cannot logically prohibit privately funded experiments. I'm sure that Dr Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's Angel of Death, would rub his hands with glee at the experiments he could now legally perform. Poor man, he was just ahead of his time.

All of the possibilities described above are inevitable consequences of the reasoning used to justify Roe vs. Wade. So we needn't worry to much about a few deaf babies; if our country remains under the shadow of abortion, much worse is yet to come.

* The sole exception, punishment of criminals by the state, is explicitly restricted from including "cruel and unusual punishment" by the eighth amendment to the Constitution. It is significant that the framers of the Bill of Rights felt that such special protection was needed.