One Answer To An Ethical Question In the Abortion Debate
Boonton has asked, and I’ve been temporizing:
A good question that ended up getting EO to ban a commentator was based on a hypothetical fire. You rush into a IV Fertilization clinic that is on fire. There happens to be a live baby in a crib crying. There is also a heavy 60 pound mini-freezer whose label says it contains 150 frozen fertilized eggs. There are only moments to spare and you can only carry one out. Which is it?
It is my understanding that typically 10 blastocysts are implanted with an average of one about one “taking” and producing a child per attempt. So, in for purposes of discussion consider that, if implanted, here we are talking about an average of 15 potential children “frozen” and one in the crib. What would I do in this case is the question. Now, we really have no way of knowing in the heat of the moment what we would actually do, but for purposes of discussion I’ll try to imagine what I’d do. There are a number of possibilities here I think that are all reasonable.
- If I knew nothing about the situation, and was a complete stranger.
- What if one of the freezer (or infant) had blastocysts all “assigned” to someone you knew. That is the freezer was IVF product for just one couple. What if you knew either mother? Would that affect your decision?
- If I knew of two or three women to whom those blastocysts belonged and didn’t know the mother of the infant …
- Another variation of the question, what if it was not a living baby vs the frozen blastocysts but a heavy valise carrying cash. How much money would it have to be before you’d leave the freezer?
- How about if it was the infant? How much money to leave the infant?
- Numbers, I think matter. Blastocysts themselves are very small, I think. Just a cluster of a few dozen to a hundred cells. What if it was a 30 kg freezer with a million blastocysts. Would that matter? How about a 100 million? What if those blastocysts were 150 T-Rex bastocysts recovered by genetic archeology. What if there were a thousand and they were the last survivors of a racial subtype, such as a ethnicity facing extinction?
- (unknown) I’d save the infant. The infant more than likely has a mother and a family. Most blastocysts are abandoned. For IVF techniques produce and excess of blastocysts, and understandably parents stop trying to have more children … when they achieve pregnancy. Why the rest are not then immediately destroyed is of course because such destruction is felt by most people to be morally problematic.
- (known mom) This would certainly matter. I’d save the freezer or the infant if I knew the parents … unless the parents where the parents of the “freezer” blastocysts and I knew that they had no intention of having a child.
- (prospective parents known) I’d likely save the blastocysts. That would likely be at least two or three babies to the one …. on average. If it was “even”, I’d likely save the infant.
- (money) I’d save the freezer.
- (money for infant) I’d save the infant.
- (numbers) At some number it becomes highly likely that more lives will be spared if the freezer is saved. A million makes it almost certain that the freezer has more value. T-Rex … -> the infant. I have no idea where I’d fall on the racial question. But if I thought that prospective mothers would be found, I’d favor the freezer.
Finally, I’ll note, I am one of the pro-life persons who think that IVF is morally problematic in and of itself … for what it’s worth.
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