Fantastic conversation between the venerable Robert Siegel and Jeffery Kahn, who is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School on just a few of the issues related to the ethics of IVF. One particular piece of their conversation struck me as particularly interesting (excerpted from NPR’s Website)
“SIEGEL: What about the ethical and moral issues for doctors? That is, should they facilitate multiple births for a woman who has no apparent means of support of sextuplets or octuplets? Or is it the doctor’s job to honor the patient’s wishes and let the chips fall where they may?
Dr. KAHN: Well, it may be even a more fundamental conflict than that, in that we think about the right to have children as a basic fundamental liberty that we recognize. And so, when an individual says I’d like to have children, we don’t usually ask why or how many or what techniques do you propose to use.
And so we have the technology that allows us to create these high multiple birth pregnancies bumping up against what we think of as a quite fundamental liberty. And we really haven’t wrestled that to the ground either. And that’s an issue that started in 1978, and then certainly persists today.”
This left me wondering whether I believe having children is a basic fundamental liberty. I believe it’s far more dangerous to say that it’s NOT a fundamental liberty, but many of the folks believing IVF is morally wrong frequently point to the notion that God chooses the children, not the parent – the children do not belong to us, they belong to God. In this sense, liberty, relative to child rearing, is rather transient.