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Hijos a la carta (Children by menu)

Arnoldo Kraus
Published in Spanish in México, La Jornada newspaper, May 4, 2005

Due to the enormous advancement of the biotechnology and due to the changes in the perception of the family concept, in some countries, such as England, is being discussed the possibility of the selection, by the progenitors, of the sex of their offspring. The pregnancy may be interrupted when the sex of the daughter or son does not satisfy the parents' expectations.

"Sex by menu" or "daughters or sons custom made" may be called the procedure by means of which new families are constructed. The possibility to interrupt or to carry on with a pregnancy involves the use of some scientific elements, namely, ultra sound during the gestation period, amniocentesis, etc., that will meet the "emotional" needs of the future parents. In this interweaving process it is basic to overlie the ethics of the science with the ethics of the individuals, the goals and the "needs" with the wishes and the norms of the people. This, which is a most complex tight spot that has no solution, because it does not seem plausible to reach "the moral objectivation", or "the ethics universalization" and to place them in the pathway of the science to be matched with the purposes of the human beings, does nor seem plausible. I believe that most of the free thinkers would agree that it is valid to beget and even to select embryos to save the life of sisters and brothers who may need a marrow transplant or any other kind of tissue transplant, but I am sure that the same people will be opposed to the above mentioned method of "babies by menu" because this undertaking entails different perspectives towards life and to the life. This diatribe is linking the ethics and the science.

Many of the changes suffered by the contemporary world are derived from the science and even though it is usually considered as "something good", the reality shows otherwise. It is different because science is not neutral, even though it should be. Science "accommodates itself", it requires to be designed, it is for sale and it will become corruptible whenever it would be deemed necessary. The contamination of the atmosphere, and the "new illness" which must be related to the ecological variations or to the use of countless toxic substances, the lethal weapons, which are constantly improving, the bacteriological wars, the throw-away products, the recyclable products, the middle life of countless apparatus and the double standard of many pharmaceutical companies, are a few of the wrong employment examples of the science.

The above mentioned reasons are sufficient to explain the damages resulting from the use of the science with "selfishness purposes". The corollary is obvious and the scene is almost pathetic: the science accommodates itself to the interests of those who created it or of those who have paid to create it. The science creates trends and needs. The "babies by menu" is one of these trends. But one must consider the origin of said decisions ¿Are the individuals pushing the science to research in order to meet their needs or is the science the force that modifies the whishes of the individuals?

To select a priori the sex of the daughter or the son takes us to a second diatribe that links ethics and reality. In some regions of Asia and the North of Africa the deficit of women is of around 100 hundred million. In these places, when the product is of feminine sex, there is a tendency to interrupt the pregnancy. In China 86 women are born per 100 men and in Europe and the United States the rate is of 95 women per 100 men. Labor, family, cultural and traditional matters intend to explain this inclination in the sexual preference and in the "fetuscide". Regardless the fact that in India the parliament has legislated against the selection of sex, in uterus, the reality has not been modified and the feminine fetuscides have increased. It is estimated that in China 44 million women have been lost and in India, 37 million.

In the western countries the "babies by menu" are the evidence of one of the unpleasant faces of the science misuse and the more than 100 million of women lost in Africa and Asia reveal some of the needs and trends of these cultures. Both diatribes, those that join together ethics and science and ethics and reality, become Orwellian, non understandable and coarse scenarios. There is not a balance point to equal the ethics of life with the ethics of science because those who promote the science do not recognize limits and because to make the morals objective is an impossible task.