Thanks for Twittering this, MomLogic.
My knowledge of this is only as far as Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, which is a fair supposition of what happens when the harvester and harvestee grow up and the cancer is still not cured. My experience of having to make these decisions is zero. I pray, sometimes, to a Christian God, and live a mostly culturally Christian life, but am on the path towards believing that faith is really just healing and growing and moving towards the realisation that our purpose may just only be to see how far the human civilization can go before premature annihilation having wasted away our planet and 85 million years of evolution.
So here’s my take:
I have no problems whatsoever about asking EXISTING children to help a sibling with matching organs or cells. The choice of either putting one child in danger, to make him or her suffer for his/her terminally ill sibling, or letting the latter die, is no choice at all.
However, to MAKE a baby for the purpose of harvesting stem cells to save another? I think it’s realistic to assume that stem cells as a cure is not 100%, and that is the real tragedy. Here, the choice is not whether or not you should save your dying child, but to resist from continually harvesting from your healthy one throughout his or her life should the stem cells not work and the cancer returns.
Are we as parents ready to make that choice? Or should we even get to choose when that healthy “saviour child” is no longer a baby with an umbilical cord full of precious stem cells, not just a sum of genetically compatible materials, but a person, who will grow up, who won’t go away even after our sick child is healed.
A person who will for the rest of his/her life be expected to stick around UNTIL that happens.
A person, whose purpose, undeniably becomes nil when that mission is accomplished. To know that the very reason for your existence is no more.
There is not enough therapy in the world to help a person through that.
We’re always saying that because we’ve never had to face these choices, that we are not in a position to judge, or even to comment. And yet, millions of people everyday dutifully sit in jury boxes everywhere, putting themselves in various difficult positions to make some very difficult decisions. This is because, despite our differences, we all live by the same laws and the same rules. Like it or not, we do not suffer only the consequences of our own actions, but that of others as well.
Now imagine making a person whose sole purpose in life IS to suffer these consequences.
Sadly, this cannot afford to be a “I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it” decision. Theological concerns notwithstanding, this is a question of a most basic human right – the right to life, liberty and security of person.
And for that, the decision is already made.