Paper thoughts, Reproductive Technology and “My Sister’s Keeper”

Dear Professor...

The paper prompt is very simple — it asks if Sara and Brian are good parents and then says “use an ethical theory to support your answer” — There’s a method behind my madness on this one… a HUGE part of this course is making connections between ethical theory and real-live moral dilemmas.  Thus, in the last paper prompt of the semester, I expect that students can do so.  So far, a few papers have done this VERY well — others have missed that part of the prompt all together…

So — I’ll be more specific about what an answer like this should / could look like… in bullet form..

  • Sara and Brian created Ana with the intention (motivation) to save Kate.  Thus, they were using Ana to save Kate.  Kant’s Categorical Imperative explicitly says that it is wrong to use a person as a means only.  That is what Sara and Brian intended to do, that is what they actually did, thus their actions were wrong.
  • Sara and Brian created Ana so that she could donate cord blood to Kate.  Donating cord blood is painless for Ana and had the potential to save Kate’s life.  Later, Ana was asked (perhaps required by Sara) to donate bone marrow and perhaps even a kidney to Kate.  While these donations were more painful for Ana, the expected result would avoid death for Kate.  Utilitarian theory states than an action is good if it increases happiness or decreases pain overall.  So, the net effect of Sara and Brian’s actions was to save Kate’s life, thus Ana’s sacrifice was outweighed by avoiding the pain of dying of leukemia for Kate and the loss of Kate to the family.  Therefore, Sara and Brian were good parents.
  • Sara and Brian were at a loss as to what to do to save their young child’s life.  They wanted to be good parents and they realized that in order to do so, they needed to create a sibling for Kate that could save her life via donations of bone marrow.  They (at least Brian) also reasoned that Ana would be a loved member of the family.  Doing so was a virtuous act because they were acting as good parents should, trying to save their child and raising another child they love.

Those are three ways to look at the moral problem of creating a child to donate to another child — notice how the answers apply an ethical theory to answer the question — that’s important to a successful answer to the paper prompt.

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Filed under Applied Ethics, How to..., Medical Ethics

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