Saturday, April 7, 2012


What is perfection?  Who decides perfection?  Do we have the right to decide what is perfect?  Do we have an obligation to decide what is perfect?

On Wikipedia.
Perfection is, broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness.

Read on and tell me what you think?  

Im/perfections in human race

Man as a species is always striving for perfection so that life would be easy, comfortable and without any problems or distress. Throughout history, man discovered means to do away with hardships and came up with new inventions to ease his life on earth. Man realised that many things are attainable.
Now, man is living a healthier, longer life, an intellectual consciousness, giving man a stable economic life span. Who can ask for more? But man is asking for more. Now, man looks for “perfection” in the human race itself. A perfect race is an empowerment!
Humanity has come a long way. What started with one man and one woman, this species has grown and multiplied and diversified and settled in different parts of this world we call earth.
Humans strived and made it through six million years, no matter what, against all odds, facing natural obstacles and hazards. Mankind was prolific but not without distress, when an offspring was born into this world with physical and/or mental damage.
The advancement mankind registered in medicine anticipated “perfection” in birth control. Advances in prenatal tests have increased as screening is safer for the woman, cheaper, easier to use and presented as routine medical precaution.
Unfortunately, not all tests have medical goals. Prenatal screening is now giving the possibility to the mother or parents to discriminate by choosing to abort their child. Aborting on the basis of disability and gender should be called discriminatory abortion.
Recent news coming from Denmark caused quite an uproar. Plans to make the country a Down Syndrome-free, “perfect” society are being discussed in Parliament. While the Danes are seeking legal approval of the issue, the Americans already do this routinely. It is estimated that more than 90 per cent of unborn babies with Down Syndrome are aborted each year.
Discriminatory abortion is also being practised in Asiatic nations such as India and China, where millions of parents chose to abort their seven-week old unborn child when they learn that it would be a girl. What kind of society might result from endorsing a belief that a society without disabled people is “perfect”?
The use of science in the search for human perfection has been at the root of some of the greatest atrocities.
Widespread, publicly endorsed and paid for prenatal screening to eliminate people with Down Syndrome and other abnormalities has implications on the values of respect towards both individual human life and human life in general and also respect for disabled people. Collectively, such decisions implement negative eugenics (proposed improvement of the human species) regarding disabled people. It’s a “search and destroy” mission to wipe them out.
As riots may provide insight into actions by individuals who cumulatively threaten society, the same can be true of individuals making choices on who of their children should live and who should not.
What limits should we place on their doing so in the interests of society? These “deselection” decisions affect society itself. Many young men, for instance, can’t find a wife.
Making it legally possible to have discriminatory abortion sends out one message, that you are not good for society unless you measure up to a certain standard and is acceptable to the tax payer. We hear no more of the value that parental love is unconditional; that we love our children just because they are our children!
Down Syndrome babies or any other disabled child is usually looked at in a pessimistic manner and looked upon as a burden with dire consequences on the quality of family life and the possible benefits from having such a child are never even contemplated. Such children are known to be very caring, and grow to be gentle and wonderful people too!
And how will women who refuse screening be regarded? Will families who “choose” not to abort when “abnormalities” are discovered be seen as socially irresponsible? Will they be penalised?
In deciding on the ethics of prenatal screening, we should recall that, for all of us, “the well are only the undiagnosed sick”.
Where will we stop? Will one abort one’s child for having brown eyes and not blue? Or because they have brown hair not blonde?
Has not the world already fought so many wars against discrimination? Does society want to eliminate these “imperfections” before birth because they have no voice yet?
Diversity in nature is part of creation. Were it not for the “imperfections”, mankind would not have persevered and succeeded to be what we are today!

Mixing medical ethics with religion and science is difficult

DUBAI // A couple's joy at learning they are to have a baby is dashed early in the pregnancy when genetic testing reveals the child will have Down syndrome.
How do they react if their religion forbids abortion in these circumstances?
"In all kinds of research, ethics is a very important component," said Dr Ayesha Abdullah, the managing director of Dubai Healthcare City.
How do they react if their religion forbids abortion in these circumstances?Advancement of Science co-hosted the event, the latest in a series that has been hosted by Jordan, Kuwait and Tunisia.
"Whether it's research on patients or on animals, scientists come up against ethical issues. Ethics vary from one country to another. Religion and culture play a role.
"Of course there are values that are universal - life is sacred, for example. But as you move from one region to another, culture and religion play a role.
"In the case of a family who learns they are expecting a Down syndrome baby, what do they do with this information? That is a difficult problem.
"In other countries the mother could have an abortion, but in a lot of countries that is not an option."
Another issue that was discussed was marriage between cousins and the risk, in some cases, of children suffering from the potentially fatal genetic disorder thalassaemia. Screening of couples can determine whether there is a risk.
"In this part of the world people have been having intermarriages for thousands of years," said Dr Abdullah. "All of a sudden you tell them they are a carrier of, say, thalassaemia and then cousins can't marry any more.
"Or if a woman is already pregnant and then the child has, for example, thalassaemia major, then what do you do? These ethical issues come with research and science, so these are the kinds of things scientists come up against.
"That is where the religion and culture play a role. It's about trying to find solutions, answers to problems, that affect the population through scientific inquiry but also looking at the ethics that go with them.
"In Islam - and I'm not a religious scholar - if the mother's life is in danger an abortion is allowed but that wouldn't be the case in this example."
Dr Abdullah said the workshop was intended to promote discussion of such issues rather than reach definite conclusions.
"There are no right or wrong answers," she said. "A lot of the decisions that we make are informed by our social values, our value systems. So how do you reconcile your value systems with the science that you're doing? That is what a lot of the discussions were about.
"In our part of the world Islam is pro-science so there isn't really a lot of limitation when it comes to scientific inquiry, as such. But scientific advances pose more and more ethical issues."
Scientists also discussed efforts by the UAE Genetic Diseases Association to spread awareness of the importance of screening.
"You have to be able to bring Islamic scholars into this," said Dr Abdullah.
"The association used Friday prayers to educate the public about the importance of screening.
"It was linked to the marriage fund for the locals, so a couple wouldn't qualify if there was a risk, and they got to a point where the numbers substantially decreased because of this effort."
Dr Mariam Matar, the association's founder and chairwoman, said: "Back in 2005 only 7 per cent of the target population, which is the age group from 18 to 27, were aware of blood genetic disorders and the way of transmission.
"According to the statistics for the same target population in May 2011 it jumped to 79.6 per cent.
"The workshop was a great opportunity for us to meet top scientists, especially those working in molecular biology and genetics."

Be gentle.

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