Human Enhancement in Down Syndrome: Is it Ethical?
The issue of the ethics of human enhancement has so many different examples with multiple considerations that it is fascinating to dwell on that issue. On this blog we have already considered the role of physicians in the general issue of non-therapeutic cosmetic surgery and also the perhaps as yet esoteric use of nanotechnology in human enhancement. As you may have noticed on previous threads here on infant male circumcision, there is much consternation and concern about removal of normal foreskin of the infant’s penis for what purpose. If there is no medical benefit then should this procedure be acceptable? (Please don’t specifically write your opinion regarding circumcision on THIS thread but go to the circumcision thread.)
Another interesting human enhancement procedure to discuss is that of prescribing human growth hormone to children with normal growth hormone levels but of short stature or anticipated short stature because of short stature parents. I hope to go into this issue later.
The human enhancement issue that I would like to initiate in today’s post is the one discussed in the current August 2006 issue of Virtual Mentor “Adding burden to burden: cosmetic surgery for children with
Down syndrome” by Ann K. Suziedelis, PhD. The article starts out with the following:
Expectant parents dream of giving birth to a beautiful, robust and “perfect” baby. In reality this does not always happen. When things go wrong there is sometimes nothing parents can do to ameliorate the condition of their afflicted child. For others, the imperfections are so slight that they barely affect the child’s leading a normal life. It is a specific group caught in the middle of this spectrum—high-functioning children with Down syndrome (DS)—who evoke the ethical question discussed here. That is, is it ethical for parents to subject children with DS to purely cosmetic surgery that offers no medical benefit for them before the children are old enough to give any informed and freely considered assent?
Please go to Virtual Mentor and read the entire article and then return and write your opinions of whether it is ethical to subject a child, without the child’s assent, if not informed consent, to a surgery which may have no medical benefit but which some parents might feel would be in the child’s best interest and I think, perhaps, also in the parents own best interest. I will look forward toward reading your views. ..Maurice.