Friday, June 26, 2009

Life Dependency

John made a careless mistake. Despite knowing that level 6 of the hospital was a restricted area, he inadvertently staggered out of the elevator on the sixth floor, owing to heavy intoxication from all the drinks he'd had with his friends. When he woke up on the hospital bed, he discovered that he'd been mistaken for a volunteer in a new life-saving procedure. Those patients who required vital organ transplants were being hooked up to another healthy volunteer, whose healthy organs kept both alive. Each donor who came forward would do this for 9 months, after which another donor would step in and support the patient. John spared no time in calling the nearest doctor and explaining what had happened. The doctor said, "I understand your anger, but then you have yourself to blame for behaving irresponsibly. The truth is if we let go of you now, the patient, an eminent violinist will die and the music world will face a huge loss. You will in fact be murdering him." John protested, "You have no right to say that. Even if he dies without me, how can you force me to sacrifice my life for the next 9 months!" (Source: A Defense of Abortion, by Judith Jarvis Thompson, in Philosophy and Public Affairs)

An allegory again, on a topic that has been beaten to death. Almost everyone holds a strong opinion on it and my take on it is nothing phenomenally insightful or novel. Still I found the allegory quite interesting, although obviously it's not a great one. In the real world, John can sue the hospitals for plugging his organs with another's just because he dropped asleep on a hospital bed. Secondly, abortion really doesn't boil down to the simple element of the ethics of ending another life that is dependent on the mother. Contrary to the excerpt, there is a more challenging phase for mothers and children after the period of 9 months.

If I were to bring in the question of morality into abortion, it's a matter of: a) ending a speck of life that is yet to develop, or b) potentially ruining the life of another being or person. I'm vehemently opposed to the idea of bringing in a new life when it is not assured of parents who can provide their best. If the woman/couple recognizes the conception as a mistake, then according to me, the most ethical thing to do is to spare bringing in such a child instead of messing their life. Although I'm in support of adoption, I don't advocate the idea of being careless and then dealing with adoption as a solution. Adoption is a solution to the current problem of providing abandoned and homeless children a home and a loving family which is yearning for kids. But it's understood that these children will invariably carry some emotional baggage and certain inevitable challenges due to being adopted. Why make them go through it, if there is a choice? Especially when we are in no dire need to keep up the population rate.

It troubles me to no end when I meet so many young children in schools being classified as "emotionally challenged", and listen to them talk about their angry mothers. It's grossly immoral to mess up these lives right from the tender ages. To convince a careless and precocious 15 year old girl to go through with a pregnancy is just a huge crime to the unborn child, more than it is to the young girl. Many have lashed back at me saying that there are no ideal circumstances to raise a child and one cannot take a course on parenthood before being one.

Is asking for the mother to be above 18, and to have a job (or for the father to have a job) to support and provide for the child, too much to ask in terms of circumstances? Isn't that stripped down to the barest of bare minimum? And if it were up to me, I would most certainly enforce every expecting mother/parent/couple to go through a basic psychology course on parenthood, and based on progress (or lack of it) they would need to retake courses, else they will not be entitled to complete custody of the child. Severe yes, but I have seen enough neglect of children to make me feel so.

In cases when the child is congenitally deformed, I think the choice is entirely up to the parents. No matter how loving and able such parents, in some sense I do find it immoral and cruel to inflict such a life on the child, when even normal and healthy ones struggle to survive in our jungle.


SecondSight said...

Yes, yes and yes !:) I couldn't agree more (or less, as someone once claimed was the same thing as more ;)) In my perception, raising a healthy child is probably more challenging than actually bearing one.
Too many people seem to think of human beings as mere biological entities, as if being healthy and capable of performing the basic function of nurturing an embryo to term justifies having a child..

oorjas said...

i too support adoption a lot.. still it would be a much better world if there was no need for it.

this is really dicey..

the unborn could have ended up as a major contributor to the world... or not

but it would surely have messed up the parent's as well as the kid's life.

but still it is a life.. do we have the right to end it..?

we humans easily end so many lives just to fill our stomachs and lives everyday anyway..

so how is this different.. it is just another life... we are actually saving that unborn from a lot of troubles.

why is a human's life important and an animal's is not..?

oorjas said...

Hey where r u..? long time no read..? :-D

Anonymous said...

Very very well-written ... echo all your sentiments and agree with all your thoughts!

Neeraja said...

Thanks Anonymous! Glad there's one more person who shares my views :)