The Instigator
timerin
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points

Genetic screening/child selection

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/3/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,966 times Debate No: 8091
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (4)

 

timerin

Con

Should we allow geneticists to determine the fate of unborn babies? Does being mentally handicapped make you incapable of living life to it's fullest and why is being mentally handicapped even an issue? Does genetic screening take away from "natural" selection, and are we on the verge of "designer babies"?

Need info, and lots of input-
If you are in favor of it I want specific reasons and "peer reviewed" links, not just wikipedia sources.
RoyLatham

Pro

Con has left it to me to define the resolution. He is opposed to "it," but doesn't say specifically what "it" is, although he has made it clear that "it" has something to so do with genetic screening. The resolution is:

"The law should allow genetic testing of unborn babies for the purpose of detecting genetic defects, and to subsequently apply such cures for detected genetic defects as may be available."

Pro asked a series of questions to frame the debate. Pro's questions and my answers are as follows:

"Should we allow geneticists to determine the fate of unborn babies?"

No, the fate of unborn babies should be determined solely by parents. Geneticists should be restricted to providing information to parents, and to assisting in providing cures sought by parents.

"Does being mentally handicapped make you incapable of living life to it's fullest and why is being mentally handicapped even an issue?"

Yes, being mentally handicapped makes a person incapable of living life to the fullest. That follows directly from the definition of "handicapped": "something that hampers a person; disadvantage; hindrance." http://www.yourdictionary.com.... Whether or not a handicap is so severe as to greatly impair ordinary living and enjoyment of life is a separate question. For unborn babies, that decision should rest with the parents and should be based upon the best information available.

"why is being mentally handicapped even an issue?"

A very severely mentally handicapped person may impose a substantial burden upon parents, siblings, and society. Therefore it is an issue.

"Does genetic screening take away from "natural" selection, ..."

Follow-up actions by the parents may take away from natural selection. For example, applying a genetic cure prior to birth may be prevent the death of the child early in life. For example, there is a genetic heart defect that might be cured http://www.sciencedaily.com... All of modern medicine takes away from natural selection. Death of the mother during child birth, for example, is natural, as is death of children in early life. Society has been working hard for a long time to subvert natural selection by providing human-caused cures to natural problems. this is a good thing and should be encouraged.

"... and are we on the verge of "designer babies"? ..."

I think "designer babies" generally refers to choosing secondary genetic characteristics like hair color. We are currently not on the verge of that because the technology is not available and society does not allow it. I suspect that in the long run society will allow some parental choices and not others. However, with respect to curing genetic defects, the only argument against it appears to be that it is "not natural" -- and that argument fails because it applies to all of modern medicine, and society accepts "unnatural" cures.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 1
timerin

Con

I thank my opponent for clearing that resolution up for me, and for his/her input. I still don't consider the dictionary a valid resource but I will accept it for now.

The problem: Women are pressured to to undergo genetic pre-natal testing, and then pressured to abort the children for diseases as minor as down syndrome.

"As feminist biologist Ruth Hubbard put it, "Women are expected to implement the society's eugenic prejudices by "choosing" to have the appropriate tests and 'electing' not to initiate or terminate pregnancies if it looks like the outcome will offend. The basic assumption: IS THAT BY ENDING GENETIC DISORDERS WE ARE ENDING A LIFE OF SUFFERING, INCLUDING MENTAL DISSABILITIES." (Disability Studies Reader Book, collaberated by Leonard J. Davis)

Who says that a life with a physical or mental dissability is stressful one, the ones who are dissabled? Furthermore who speaks on the behalf of those who take care of them, do you? Do you have statistical research claiming that most Americans who take care of dissabled children feel imposed by their lifestyles and wished they had aborted them?

Based on the U.S. consensus of disability percentage 51.2 million people have some level of disability. That's 18% of the total population. 72% of them are people over 80 who usually suffer age related ailments.
"14.3 of people with limitations in cognitive functioning, or mental or emotional illnesses that interefere with their daily lives activities. This includes Alzheimers and mental retardation." That is only 6% of the population, and if you took out all the other disabilities and only left the mentally challenged, you would have an even smaller percentage of mentally challenged.

Almost all other disabilities were work related, war related or caused accidentally. Any disabled is a challenge, but the percentage of those born to those who are caused is very small, and if taking care of those with dissabilities is too stressful then should we give up on those with alzheimers, or cancer or heart diseases? How many years of good health does it take to justify one's existence?

Second problem: Cost/Benefit Analysis

'Those who advocate selective abortion to alleviate the suffering of children may often raise that cornerstone of contemporary political rhetoric, cost benefit. Of course cost benefit analysis is not women centered yet women can be directly pressured or subtly intimidated, and it mey be hard for women to resist the argument that it is their duty to "save scarce health dollars"'
We spend more tax dollars on welfare, and caused disibilities, along with people 'claiming' to be unfit to work then we do on the mentally challenged. The idea that it costs less to kill them then to help them is proposterous!

As for designer babies, check out this CNN News Link, it is happening.
http://www.lifesitenews.com...
RoyLatham

Pro

Con argues, "Women are pressured to to undergo genetic pre-natal testing, and then pressured to abort the children for diseases as minor as [Down] syndrome."

Women are also pressured to get general pre-natal care and testing having nothing to do with genetic defects. Are women to be freed from pressure to seek good health care? Pressure for good health care is justified.

"Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. ... People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions." http://www.ndss.org...

Currently, there is no genetic treatment to cure this defect. However, it is conceivable that such a treatment will be developed. The resolution supports testing for the condition and then treating it with whatever genetic cure is available. That is superior to leaving it undetected and untreated, both from the viewpoint of the treated individual and the society that must provide care for the individual.

It is true that currently women will be subject to some pressure to abort detected Down Syndrome unborn babies. Con apparently would pressure women not to abort, and I'm inclined to agree with Con on that. However, the issue is whether genetic testing should be forbidden by law in order for women not to be pressured. It must be a law that is at issue, because the woman can now choose not to be tested. Removing choices from people to save them from pressure is the "freedom of slavery." People can enslave themselves to avoid the torment of choices, and they enslave others to free those people of choices. That approach is completely inconsistent with a free society. Parents should be the ones making choices about children, not government. "Pressure" means exposure to arguments. that's better than suppression of arguments.

The observation that many people have some level of disability does not argue that disabilities should go undetected and uncured, which is the subject of the resolution. I have congenital near-sightedness. Hypothetically, why wouldn't shouldn't that be detected and cured? Why should my parents have been "protected" from making that choice? The charm of "natural" disabilities escapes me. Con must explain it.

As to cost/benefit analysis, I am in favor of letting the woman make the analysis, not government. That was clear in my opening statement. Con seems to be favoring letting the government determine that costs, both emotional and monetary, should always be borne. That's not a job for government.

If the choice of a babies sex has a significant public impact, then it could be regulated. Otherwise it should be the parents choice.
Debate Round No. 2
timerin

Con

I thank my opponent again for his statement.

As I stated before, the problem with screening is that it diagnoses and determines the fate of embryos based on their genetic structure. This is border line eugenics.

First- These tests are not always accurate, and while they may detect a gene for say Down Syndrome, they do not actually determine the severity of the disease, and while a child amy be a carrier, there is no gaurantee they will be mentally challenged. Also, Amniocentisis, which has to be done in the 1st-2nd trimester, takes several weeks to finish the diagnosis. If the mother is told she should abort, you are looking at a partial birth abortion, because by that time it will be in the third trimester.

Second- There are different levels of to diseases, like the Gauchers disease, one of the many they screen for, has three level/types. Type two is the worst. In the case that a child receives type two they may only have hours to live. However, there is only like a 5% chance of getting type two. 99% of children born with Gaucher's are type one, which is treatable and not lethal at all. So, again like I stated before, while they may be a gene carrier, there is no definite promise that the outcome will be as severe as genecists lead you out to think.

Third- Curing and treating is absolutely fine. I have no objections for that. Where I raise an argument is when screening is done with the intent of aborting the child. IF the proceedure is done with the intent of saving the child, I do not object. Also, you can treat and cure without screening. How do you expect to treat a dead child, and if all the Down Syndrome children were eliminated, how would you create a cure? People are still predisposed to having Down Syndrome children, so whether they are 'controlled' or not is irrelevant. Women can still have Down Syndrome children.

As for the cost/analysis- I feel you have mis-interpreted what cost analysis is. Incase you have, and feel free to correct me, it is the idea that it costs LESS to screen and abort genetically disabled babies, then it does to PAY supporting their living condidtions.
11.4 billion goes to crack addicted born babies a year, while 20,000,000 is spent on FAS children a year.(U.S. consensus doc.)These are situations that create more harm to the baby then down syndrome does, and yet the Government fears they pay too much on the mentally gifted? 1/3 of mentally challenged children are FAS(fetal alchohol syndrome).
Only 4.5billion of all American taxes are spent on disablities, and again only 6% goes to the mentally handicapped. So how are Mentally disabled a problem cost wise? 4.5 billion goes to our prison inmates, and thats just for the State of California.

As for the conditions and possible complications you have listed, alzheimers occurs more often then Down Syndrome, and you don't have to have DS to get it, same thing applies to most the complications you listed, they can all occur with age.
RoyLatham

Pro

Con says, "As I stated before, the problem with screening is that it diagnoses and determines the fate of embryos based on their genetic structure. This is border line eugenics." Pro may reassert that screening is "borderline eugenics," but has thus far given no reason to support the assertion. Consider diagnosing a two year old as having some curable disease. Should diagnosis be avoided because knowing the disease leads to a cure, and applying the cure leads to a violation of natural selection in which the child would ordinarily have died?

Making a diagnosis and doing something about it are two different things. Con argues that there should be no genetic screening, because even though in some cases screening might lead to a cure of a genetic defect, in other cases it might lead to an abortion. But whether or not abortion ought to be legal is the subject of separate debate. If it is illegal, then forbidding screening will only serve to hurt children with curable defects. If abortion is legal, then parents are presented with a moral choice which they must make. If Pro wants government to make the choice, then the correct way to do that is to have a law passed that forbids abortion. There is no point in prohibiting genetic screening, and thereby preventing curable defects from being treated, if what one really wants to do is make abortion illegal.

Pro argues that tests may be wrong and that tests may be technologically incapable of determining the severity of a defect. That's true, but that is no different from many medical tests. It means that someone must make a decision in the face of some uncertainty. This gets back to the question of who should be empowered to make the decision. It has to be either the parents or the Government. Pro opts for the Government making the decision. That is the abortion debate.

It would have been better if Pro simply posted the resolution, "Abortion should be illegal." I didn't want to debate that subject, but it seems there is no choice. My opinion is that during the first trimester, the fetus cannot survive independently of the mother, so therefore it should be considered part of the mother and subject to the mothers choice. In the third trimester, the fetus can survive independently, so abortion ought to be prohibited. In the second trimester it is debatable, so perhaps abortion should be allowed if there is a very good reason. Even in the third trimester, saving the life of the mother is a perhaps the only sufficient reason. That's what I think. However, I don't claim that my opinion is "provably" better than anyone else's. So therefore, I think that the individual states should be allowed to decide the legality based upon the prevailing opinion in the state, and that the rest of us ought to respect that decision.

Genetic screening, however, should be legal so that treatable genetic defects, not Down syndrome right now, can be cured.
Debate Round No. 3
timerin

Con

I thank my oponent again for his statement, but as I have repeatedly stated, which I feel you clearly misunderstand, I have no problems with abortion. What I do have a problem with is aborting a child based on what DOCTOR's say about it's genetic structure, and to say that mental disability is a reason to abort your child is indirectly implying that people with mental dissabilities are not fit for life. It devalues the already many disabled that re living now, and what you don't realize is that it's more often than ever not being used for the sake of DIAGNOSING, but rather for the sake of ELIMINATING. This is why I gave the cost/benefit analysis- Government excuse for eliminating the 'unfit'. I don't know where you got the idea that I 'want' the government to make the decision for women. I 'want' women to make the decision clearly of their own free will, with out any influence or 'push' from a doctor.

However, again, the problem is that women are being pressured to take these tests, and by taking them you are creating a diagnosis, which is great if you are doing it with the intent of saving the child, but thats not the case. The prenatal screening is like 'fishing for the bad seeds', anything that is not of societal standards, or anything that is going to implement the funds and conditions of those standards, and when you put it into comparison with drug abusing mothers there definately seems to be some bias against the disabled, and 'prevention' through elimination is not the 'cure' but rather a step towards a eugenic movement. It might be a suttle movement, but its a movement just the same. Any sorting of a particular race, gender, handicapp you name it is on the verge of eugenics.

Hopefully you have comprehended my point by this time, and if not well wish the best to you, and thank you for the debate.
RoyLatham

Pro

Figuring out the resolution has been a major problem in this debate. I figured if I proposed a resolution, then Con, the instigator, would probably jump in and counter with a different one. That didn't happen. I said the resolution was "The law should allow genetic testing of unborn babies for the purpose of detecting genetic defects, and to subsequently apply such cures for detected genetic defects as may be available." Con surprised me by agreeing to that resolution, and then later conceded, "Curing and treating is absolutely fine. I have no objections for that."

So what is it that Con really wanted to debate? She said, "Where I raise an argument is when screening is done with the intent of aborting the child." Moreover, Con tells us she is not opposed to abortion. So at this point, my next guess is that what Con wanted to debate was, "Women should not choose to abort an unborn baby based upon screening evidence of mental defect." If that is the resolution, then Con's question, "Should we allow geneticists to determine the fate of unborn babies?" is at best misleading. I replied, "No, the fate of unborn babies should be determined solely by parents. Geneticists should be restricted to providing information to parents, and to assisting in providing cures sought by parents." I argued that this was a parental choice abortion issue, and that whether or not abortion was legal should be a separate debate. I said that whatever a state decided about the legality of abortion ought to be rule with respect genetic issues as with any other issue. Con replied that, no, I still had not gotten her point.

Now, my guess is that the resolution Con wanted is, "Pre-natal testing for Down syndrome should be allowed as a basis for an abortion decision by the mother." Con said she is pro-choice, but this is a way to prevent a choice in the particular case of Down syndrome. I am sympathetic to the argument that a choice to abort an unborn baby with Down syndrome ought not be made reflexively; indeed there is much to ponder. However, that is true of any abortion decision. Nonetheless, the mother ought to be the one who does the pondering, and should do so having as many facts as possible.

I'm not willing to invoke a cost/benefit argument from the viewpoint of the State or the general public, who might have to provide support for the treatment of the many physical ills that go with Down syndrome. However, there is a cost/benefit analysis from the viewpoint of the mother. Caring for a child having a mental defect imposes a substantial extra strain upon the mother, and coping with that strain successfully demands extra maturity and a better social structure around the mother. An unwed teen who felt she could cope with a normal child might believe she could not cope with a mentally handicapped child. I am arguing that if one generally allows an abortion choice by the mother, one cannot logically exclude a choice for mental handicap.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Icarus57 4 years ago
Icarus57
>What's wrong with Wikipedia?

There is nothing wrong with wikipedia in itself...

wikipedia can be edited by any person if the topic is non-controversial and has very little public information currently available, the sources of legitimate wikipedia pages are displayed at the bottom of the webpage, and important topics are locked and watched by administrators.
Posted by animea 4 years ago
animea
timerin, debate.org is the wrong format for college research papers. I would suggest using a site actually made for that.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
From this debate I learned not to take debates in which the opponent has no resolution. I thought a resolution could be obtained fairly quickly, but it turned out that Con had little interest in the matter of defining the resolution, and never proposed one. That's a mistake, but not because of anything having to do with the purity of the debate format. It's a mistake because to get answers, it is necessary to first work on posing the question. Is the question about what "should" be done or about what ought to be illegal? Was it about doing test or evaluating results? With a restricted word count, having to try to define the questions is too much for the space allotted. It would be much better as a forum topic.
Posted by timerin 4 years ago
timerin
Otherwords I could care less...
Posted by timerin 4 years ago
timerin
I'm doing all of this for research, so I need the views of other individuals, especially from the favoring side, but I need valid resources for these claims or else they're no good to me. College professors won't accept wikipedia sources.
Posted by wjmelements 4 years ago
wjmelements
I know.
Posted by mongoose 4 years ago
mongoose
...nothing...
Posted by wjmelements 4 years ago
wjmelements
What's wrong with Wikipedia?
Posted by mongoose 4 years ago
mongoose
What is the resolution? I don't know what PRO would be arguing about...
Posted by Alex 4 years ago
Alex
I don't think that we should ever attempt to alter babies even before they are developed, its unnatural, unsafe and just weird.
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Lazy
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RoyLatham
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animea
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LB628
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