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The ethics of a hypothetical pre-natal screening for Homosexuality

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  • The ethics of a hypothetical pre-natal screening for Homosexuality

    From 5 years ago:
    https://www.vocativ.com/238339/genet...ity/index.html

    Given that the argument made is that gay people are "born that way", imagine a hypothetical pre-natal test that can screen for homosexuality.

    This test, given before birth could determine that an unborn child is homosexual/bisexual. Then parents would be able to choose whether or not to abort the unborn child based on their sexual orientation.

    The question then becomes, what are the ethics involved? Parents from conservative areas might decide that sin of abortion is better than bringing a gay child into the world and choose to abort. In norway, such pre-natal screenings have dramatically dropped the number of children born with down syndrome, with many parents deciding to abort rather than raise.

    Is it ethical to screen for homosexuality in unborn? Is it ethical to abort on positive tests? Should we outlaw the pre-natal test, outlaw abortions that use the tests as a selction?

    What do you think the ethics of such a pre-natal test are?

  • #2
    And from which parent did that child inherit the homosexual gene?

    Comment


    • #3
      Given how some who are deaf want to use such tests to try to have a deaf child, I can picture a lesbian couple trying to have a gay child and even aborting any who aren't

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
        From 5 years ago:
        https://www.vocativ.com/238339/genet...ity/index.html

        Given that the argument made is that gay people are "born that way", imagine a hypothetical pre-natal test that can screen for homosexuality.

        This test, given before birth could determine that an unborn child is homosexual/bisexual. Then parents would be able to choose whether or not to abort the unborn child based on their sexual orientation.

        The question then becomes, what are the ethics involved? Parents from conservative areas might decide that sin of abortion is better than bringing a gay child into the world and choose to abort. In norway, such pre-natal screenings have dramatically dropped the number of children born with down syndrome, with many parents deciding to abort rather than raise.

        Is it ethical to screen for homosexuality in unborn? Is it ethical to abort on positive tests? Should we outlaw the pre-natal test, outlaw abortions that use the tests as a selction?

        What do you think the ethics of such a pre-natal test are?
        The same as those for parents who abort on cultural/religious grounds because the child is the wrong sex.

        Or couples who have a disability [as rogue06 cited] and who want their child[ren] to have the same disability. It's a form of designer baby and frankly rather unpleasant.

        Deciding to abort a child with a recognised mental and/or physical disability is something quite different. Homosexuality is not a mental or physical disability that requires exceptional parental/social care [or being institutionalised] because the individual is unable to adequately fend for themselves.

        We can grow up and go out into the world and be as successful [or not] as any of our hetero neighbours and/or friends.


        "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful" Attrib. Seneca 4 BCE - 65 CE

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post
          The same as those for parents who abort on cultural/religious grounds because the child is the wrong sex.

          Or couples who have a disability [as rogue06 cited] and who want their child[ren] to have the same disability. It's a form of designer baby and frankly rather unpleasant.

          Deciding to abort a child with a recognised mental and/or physical disability is something quite different. Homosexuality is not a mental or physical disability that requires exceptional parental/social care [or being institutionalised] because the individual is unable to adequately fend for themselves.

          We can grow up and go out into the world and be as successful [or not] as any of our hetero neighbours and/or friends.

          So, given that it is rather "unpleasant", should steps be taken to stop it from happening? Perhaps ban said screening?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post

            So, given that it is rather "unpleasant", should steps be taken to stop it from happening? Perhaps ban said screening?
            As with all complex issues, especially those touching on ethics, there are no simple solutions such as the suggestion to ban screening.

            Screening is important because it can detect serious defects but the "downside" is that it also offers the possibility for parents to abort on "cosmetic" grounds. The issue lies in cultural attitudes and with medical personnel prepared to abort for such "cosmetic "considerations. Money talks as it always does, and of course cultural/religious viewpoints held by the medical personnel that coincide with the views of the parent[s] will also play a part.

            Suffice to state that this is a hugely complex issue.
            "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful" Attrib. Seneca 4 BCE - 65 CE

            Comment


            • #7
              There is something that is being missed here. The whole premise of this argument is flawed. Homosexuality is a behavior. There is not any real proof that behavior is such is inherited anymore than tendency to steal or to lie. Environmental factors have more to do with shaping a person's behavior.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sherman View Post
                There is something that is being missed here. The whole premise of this argument is flawed. Homosexuality is a behavior. There is not any real proof that behavior is such is inherited anymore than tendency to steal or to lie. Environmental factors have more to do with shaping a person's behavior.
                Homosexuality is not a behaviour, any more than heterosexuality is.

                The issue is not whether homosexuality is inherited, it is whether it can be screen for prior to birth.

                Regardless, this thread is about the morality issues IF it is given that the ability to screen for homosexuality before birth exists. It's a hypothetical. If you don't want to participate, don't. But going into a hypothetical and claiming that they hypothetical couldn't come true is idiotic at best.
                America - too good to let the conservatives drag it back to 1950.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Faber View Post
                  And from which parent did that child inherit the homosexual gene?
                  According to the OP article they found links to nine epigenetic regions. Epigenetics isn't inherited DNA, but instead is bits of the genome being turned off in response to something environmental (e.g. the OP article suggests: "subtle differences in the environment each fetus experiences during gestation, such as their exact locations within the womb and how much of the maternal blood supply each receives").

                  So they are suggesting that the children inherit the parents genes as per normal, but in the womb some genes get switched off (possibly at random), and hence the children of straight parents can be born gay.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
                    I'll note that there's been many different attempts at finding the genetic causes of homosexuality in recent years and the consistent finding has been "it's complicated". It seems to involved a massive number of genetic regions, and your OP piece has epigenetic regions, and even with all of this the probabilities aren't all that predictive (your OP piece claims only 70% predictive power and only for males).

                    Given that the argument made is that gay people are "born that way", imagine a hypothetical pre-natal test that can screen for homosexuality.
                    Except your OP article suggests that the epigenetic changes that cause homosexuality would probably happen in the womb. They're saying it's not the inherited genetics, but rather changes that happen to the inherited genetics while the fetus is developing in the womb, that cause homosexuality. So you're proposing a pre-natal test for a development that happens pre-natally? What happens if the development happens after you've done the test?

                    I guess if you did the test a mere week before birth, you could be relatively sure that if the change was going to happen it would have already happened. But then, you're dealing with a very late term abortion, that you probably object to, and which would probably be illegal even in most countries that allowed abortion.

                    If the OP article is right and homosexuality is epigenetic rather than genetic, and develops in the womb itself, that makes it very hard to test for pre-birth.

                    What do you think the ethics of such a pre-natal test are?
                    Lets instead consider things that are genetically determinable pre-birth. e.g. eye color, hair color etc. What do we think of the parents getting a test done to check if those are what they'd like? (and aborting if they're not)

                    My first thought is it's a huge waste of resources and I wouldn't want the taxpayer to be funding that. I'm not sure that I morally object to it. But I struggle to imagine many couples would want to do it - I know people who have struggled to successfully carry one baby to term despite many attempts - so I think few people who want a child would want to abort one they're carrying just because some irrelevant trait isn't quite optimal.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Electric Skeptic View Post
                      But going into a hypothetical and claiming that they hypothetical couldn't come true is idiotic at best.
                      It's a common enough mistake, especially for someone who hasn't been in a lot of discussions of hypotheticals; not necessarily idiotic.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                        I'll note that there's been many different attempts at finding the genetic causes of homosexuality in recent years and the consistent finding has been "it's complicated". It seems to involved a massive number of genetic regions, and your OP piece has epigenetic regions, and even with all of this the probabilities aren't all that predictive (your OP piece claims only 70% predictive power and only for males).

                        Except your OP article suggests that the epigenetic changes that cause homosexuality would probably happen in the womb. They're saying it's not the inherited genetics, but rather changes that happen to the inherited genetics while the fetus is developing in the womb, that cause homosexuality. So you're proposing a pre-natal test for a development that happens pre-natally? What happens if the development happens after you've done the test?

                        I guess if you did the test a mere week before birth, you could be relatively sure that if the change was going to happen it would have already happened. But then, you're dealing with a very late term abortion, that you probably object to, and which would probably be illegal even in most countries that allowed abortion.

                        If the OP article is right and homosexuality is epigenetic rather than genetic, and develops in the womb itself, that makes it very hard to test for pre-birth.

                        Lets instead consider things that are genetically determinable pre-birth. e.g. eye color, hair color etc. What do we think of the parents getting a test done to check if those are what they'd like? (and aborting if they're not)

                        My first thought is it's a huge waste of resources and I wouldn't want the taxpayer to be funding that. I'm not sure that I morally object to it. But I struggle to imagine many couples would want to do it - I know people who have struggled to successfully carry one baby to term despite many attempts - so I think few people who want a child would want to abort one they're carrying just because some irrelevant trait isn't quite optimal.
                        You pretty much avoided the hypothetical

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Electric Skeptic View Post
                          Homosexuality is not a behaviour, any more than heterosexuality is.
                          Going back 50-70 years the terms tended to be behavioral ones - i.e. who you'd had sex with.

                          Nowadays of course, the terms typically refer to sexual attraction aka sexual orientation. The way I like to think of it is: Consider the list of people you've felt sexual attraction for - if they are mostly or all the opposite sex to you, you're heterosexual, if they're mostly or all the same sex to you, you're homosexual, if they're a mix of sexes, you're bisexual, if there's no one on the list, you're asexual. This definition avoids cultural issues and makes the term homosexuality applicable historically and cross-culturally.

                          The question of whether a person thinks about themselves using those terms (sexual identity) is quite another matter though, and obviously varies hugely historically and cross-culturally as different cultures had different ways of categorizing sexuality and different cultural behaviors associated with that categorization.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
                            You pretty much avoided the hypothetical
                            Most Western countries have legal protections against discrimination on various specific grounds, these are sometimes called "protected classes" or similar. This is because historically certain groups / classes of people were harmed by discrimination that was motivated by prejudice rather than rationally based. Sexuality is typically included among protected classes.

                            In the hypothetical that we could determine the status of a child's protected class by pre-natal screening, and abort it if we didn't like it, that would pretty clearly fall under the jurisdiction of the existing discrimination laws and be illegal in most Western countries. Again, the reason for this illegality is the immorality of prejudiced bullying of certain groups for bad reasons. Both the issues of aborting the fetus if it were a girl, and aborting it if it were gay, I would thus consider to be illegal and immoral for these reasons.

                            I acknowledge that the current practice of aborting based on pre-natal tests for deformities runs afoul of the fact that the disabled are typically also a protected class. That is clearly a morally grey area where the desire to prevent the fetus having a life of pain and suffering and hence euthanizing it is at odds with the desire to protect protected classes from discrimination. I would therefore say that the rational bar for whether a gay person should be aborted is whether they would typically have a life as awful in quality as someone born with an extreme deformity that we would tend to abort. Since, as far as I am aware, the life of the average gay person in Western societies is not much lower in average quality and enjoyment than the average straight person, pre-emptively euthanizing them to prevent suffering would not seem remotely justified as a rationale.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                              Most Western countries have legal protections against discrimination on various specific grounds, these are sometimes called "protected classes" or similar. This is because historically certain groups / classes of people were harmed by discrimination that was motivated by prejudice rather than rationally based. Sexuality is typically included among protected classes.

                              In the hypothetical that we could determine the status of a child's protected class by pre-natal screening, and abort it if we didn't like it, that would pretty clearly fall under the jurisdiction of the existing discrimination laws and be illegal in most Western countries. Again, the reason for this illegality is the immorality of prejudiced bullying of certain groups for bad reasons. Both the issues of aborting the fetus if it were a girl, and aborting it if it were gay, I would thus consider to be illegal and immoral for these reasons.

                              I acknowledge that the current practice of aborting based on pre-natal tests for deformities runs afoul of the fact that the disabled are typically also a protected class. That is clearly a morally grey area where the desire to prevent the fetus having a life of pain and suffering and hence euthanizing it is at odds with the desire to protect protected classes from discrimination. I would therefore say that the rational bar for whether a gay person should be aborted is whether they would typically have a life as awful in quality as someone born with an extreme deformity that we would tend to abort. Since, as far as I am aware, the life of the average gay person in Western societies is not much lower in average quality and enjoyment than the average straight person, pre-emptively euthanizing them to prevent suffering would not seem remotely justified as a rationale.
                              If we were to ban this based on discrimination, would that not require that we admit that the fetus has rights? After all, why would it be wrong to abort a fetus because it's gay, but morally OK to abort it because the mother simply doesn't want a baby?

                              I did deliberately choose this hypothetical because it puts two different morals into conflict, not to be a jerk, but just to see how people wrestle with that conflict and which one comes out on top. I don't think there is a compromise solution, but if you believe there is one, feel free to share it, but in the end, I think one has to win.

                              Comment

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