Ho, hum. Another day, another outrage from the bioethics community. This one (or pair of 'em) gets a choice devours itself award. Remember that choice devours itself when you start by offering something as a benefit to a particular group and advertise it as good for them as a matter of their choice and end up forcing it on the "beneficiaries" or turning a blind eye when that is done. Forced or high-pressure abortions, complicity in sex slavery, forced or coerced euthanasia and "assisted suicide," and the like.
In this case, the wonderful "choice" is in-vitro fertilization cum pre-implantation diagnosis. (In case you need a refresher, that's when you toss embryos into the bioincinerator after checking them for, and finding, defects.) All about giving parents choices, you know. But some brainy bioethicists have decided that, actually, you have a duty to use pre-implantation diagnosis if you are a carrier of a serious (whatever "serious" may include) genetic anomaly. In fact, the law should impose this duty on you:
Janet Malek, of East Carolina University, and Judith F. Daar, of Whittier Law School, in California, argue that eventually the law should and will impose “a duty on IVF-reproducing parents to maximize the well-being of their future offspring by all reasonable means.” Why? The authors cite three reasons: increasing the child’s well-being, expanding his or her self-determination, and reducing inequalities.
So it's all about your choice, except when it's not.
But there's more. In the same hot-off-the-press issue of The American Journal of Bioethics Rosalind Ladd and Edwin Forman criticize Malek and Daar on the grounds that they "do not go far enough." Ladd and Forman argue that the duty to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (and to discard embryos with the problem) extends to all parents who carry a serious genetic anomaly. But, ha!, since you can't use pre-implantation diagnosis unless you use IVF, all such parents have a duty to use IVF to procreate. Isn't that neat?
It looks from the first page of their article (which is all I presently have access to) as though Ladd and Forman intend to duck the issue of whether the law should (as Malek and Daar hold) impose such duties on parents. They say that they don't "need to revive" the "controversy" over enforcement. Well, that's convenient. They can just let that sort itself out in the halls of government, having already given the wink and the nod by saying that the first set of totalitarian-inclined bioethicists "didn't go far enough" in telling us about our procreative duties.
I've saved the worst for last, though. At least from the perspective of Christian readers, especially evangelical Christian readers. Guess where Rosalind Ladd teaches? Just guess.
Wheaton College. You know, that flagship evangelical Christian school, the home of the papers of C.S. Lewis and many other famous Christian authors. The school so committed to its principles of faith that in 2005 it even fired a professor for becoming Catholic.
Update and important correction: My error, corrected by reader Anna. Rosalind Ladd is emerita at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. The other Wheaton. W4 regrets the error and is happy to correct it.