Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Ethical question, "my sisters keeper"

I went to the movies to see "My sisters keeper" with my girlfriend, we had a superb night. The movie does raise ethical questions about genetically created babies, or babies created for 'spare parts'.

The movie is based on Jodie Picoult's book - the opening I thought was brilliant and quiet true, in that most babies are created by accident, where as Anna Fitzgerald (Abigal Breslin) was conceived by means of invitro fertilization. She was matched genetically so that she could provide stem cells etc for her sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) who stars in "Medium".

The long and the short of the story is that Ann 11yrs old sues her parents for the control of her body. This is an interesting concept because I believe that children who are sick or have a major illness are very well informed and have a good understanding of the disease process. Therefore, I also credit these children to having a greater awareness, understanding and depth about their illness. It stands to reason then that these children will a greater comprehension of the consequences of the illness and treatments.

In order for a minor (usually under 18) to be able to give consent to treatment they need to meet certain criteria and generally that is to be "Gillick competent". The other issue is that it is in the child's "best interest".

An important issue here is the right to self determination, the right to choose what happens to your body. This is particularly important for women, making decisions when pregnant. Who's body is it? the woman's, the doctor or the babies? do you force a woman to have a cesarean section to have her baby?

Imagine that a member of your family needs your kidney and you do not want to give them your kidney, for whatever your reasons and that family member dies because no one else is compatible, you can not make anyone give you a kidney because you are going to die - then think about a woman choosing not to have a cesarean section to save her baby? for what ever her reasons, providing she is mentally well. Do you force her to have c/section? I think not, this would be considered "assault and battery". Food for thought!

This movie was good in highlighting these types of ethical decisions, which I think we will see more of in the future - because these issues are not always thought through to the end, and certainly it all begins in Amercia.
Lastly, the book ends differently to the book, this was disappointing, however I think I prefer the movie ending!

The movie is worth seeing, just take some tissues!


persiflage said...

I saw this film last week, and have not read the book. It certainly did raise very important ethical issues. I do not know what the book ending was, but thought the film's ending was a cop-out which side-stepped the question of the child's right to agree or disagree with the use of her body and its parts.
To me the really disturbing question was the conception of a designer baby to genetically match another sibling, so as to use that body - which denies any sense of personal autonomy. This, and the related issues of surrogacy, seem to spring from the American experience of slavery, which I think has resulted in a deeply held feeling that a body can be property.

InfoMidwife said...

Hi Persiflage, thanks for droping by and leaving a comment, couldn't agree with you more about the disturbing question 'conception' of designer babies - whats the world coming too! if you have a chance read the book, I think you won't like that ending either, it is certainly a cop out and left me feeling frustrated.

Save Homebirth

Home Birth Australia