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“Allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further a parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise.”
December 31, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Cure for teh gay? I was relaxing in front of X-Men 3 when a friend mentioned that the United States "gay sheep" experiments were wrapping up (though not uneventfully), with considerable successes. Lesbian tennis champ Martina Navaratilova has been fighting to end the tests for some time, but it appears a "gay vaccine" for pregnant mothers may be inevitable. Meanwhile, the GOP's only gay congressman retires.
posted by mek (294 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm...what about a cure for being straight?
posted by niles at 2:54 PM on December 31, 2006 [4 favorites]


My thoughts exactly; a world of six billion doesn't need even more people reproducing.

I'm gay, and this is pretty scary stuff. In some ways a vaccine is worse than a cure; in X3 the cure wasn't entirely bad because some people freely chose to take it, and it truly improved their quality of life. If I lived in a less free place than Canada, I would seriously consider such a cure.

With a vaccine, the choice is not yours to make. And what's truly terrible is the vaccine would be largely available in rich, developed nations, shrinking their homosexual populations; thereby leaving the truly oppressed homosexuals in nations where homosexuality is criminalized without any voice whatsoever.

Not to mention it would shrink the dating pool even further. :P
posted by mek at 3:00 PM on December 31, 2006


This is great! But what to do with all the gays already out there mincing around trying to destroy our families? There must be some sort of... I dunno, "solution" to this problem... yes... some sort of "final solution"... MUHUHAHAHA...
posted by wfrgms at 3:04 PM on December 31, 2006


Anyone who is pro-abortion would be hypocritical to deny a woman this choice.
posted by stbalbach at 3:05 PM on December 31, 2006


Huh?
posted by NationalKato at 3:05 PM on December 31, 2006


With a vaccine, the choice is not yours to make.

Most things that happen to fetuses are not choices either. If you believe that a woman has sovereignty over her body (and can have an abortion) then why shouldn't she be able to take drugs that alter prenatal development?

Actually, from what I've read a lot of "personality" traits have a lot to do with hormone levels in the womb, rather then straight genetic differences. You might be "born" being gay, but that doesn't mean you're conceived gay.
posted by delmoi at 3:05 PM on December 31, 2006


the GOP's only openly gay congressman retires.

Fixed that for you.
posted by papakwanz at 3:08 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


This has been in the works for a while--it was inevitable.

I think it'll fail, personally--it's not just hormones that make someone gay or straight, and this could be (and probably will be) incredibly dangerous to fetal development--it'll be years if not decades before it's perfected, and by that time, God willing, discrimination will have lessened so that it's not even seen as necessary at all. And where will they find willing pregnant volunteers to test it? How? At what risk?
posted by amberglow at 3:09 PM on December 31, 2006


I'm not so sure I'm in favor for a "cure" for teh gay but I'm definitely for any scientific examination that will finally shut up the religous right's argument that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

The day I can definitively tell my ignorant-due-to-her-belief-in-the-baby-jeebus mother-in-law that homosexuality is genetic and have the data to back it up will be one of the best days of my life.
posted by photoslob at 3:09 PM on December 31, 2006


photoslob, do you really think the data will be enough to change her mind?
posted by NationalKato at 3:11 PM on December 31, 2006


And where will they find willing pregnant volunteers to test it? How? At what risk?

Actually I don't think it would be difficult all...
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on December 31, 2006


photoslob: Do you really think scientific data will have any influence on fundamentalists' beliefs re: homosexuality? If so, I have a creationist museum to sell you.
posted by papakwanz at 3:12 PM on December 31, 2006


These studies have nothing to do with people. They're looking at behavior in animals. Researchers are investigating homosexual behavior throughout the animal kingdom from fruit flies to monkeys. Ranchers who breed their animals to have whiter fur are not secretely trying to figure out how to "cure" black people. Farmers who breed their corn to be taller are not hoping to figure out how to "fix" short people. For a sheep rancher, a gay ram is a ram that will not impregnate female sheep. This is a problem for the rancher and deserves to be investigated how it can be overcome.
posted by pwb503 at 3:12 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


Damn you NationalKato!
posted by papakwanz at 3:12 PM on December 31, 2006


Quite honestly, any pregnant woman who would volunteer or allow herself and her potential child to be experimented on this way does not deserve to be a parent at all, i don't think. Incredibly dangerous.
posted by amberglow at 3:13 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


If there's a cure that worked, I'd take it.
posted by mike3k at 3:13 PM on December 31, 2006


But that said, I can't imagine this ending up being widespread at all, I mean in order for it to reduce the gay population it a patch (or whatever) would need to be worn by an overwhelming majority of pregnant women, since there is no way to test to see if you're "at risk" of having a gay baby.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on December 31, 2006


photoslob, I used to think a biological explanation for sexual preference would be a good thing to shut the religious right up as well, but ultimately I think that distinction is missing the point. So what if it's a choice or it's not? Either way it's just people having sex which is a good thing.
posted by sineater at 3:14 PM on December 31, 2006


Great movie that attacks this topic: Hard Pill.
posted by ao4047 at 3:14 PM on December 31, 2006


pwb503, if you think this doesn't eventually lead to something to be used on people, you're dreaming. There are many many rightwing orgs with millions and millions ready and waiting to pour money into something like this.
posted by amberglow at 3:14 PM on December 31, 2006


These studies have nothing to do with people.

Such an argument could be made, but it's difficult when the scientists involved insist on how their findings can and probably will be relevant to human sexuality.
posted by mek at 3:16 PM on December 31, 2006


I look forward to a cure for bigoted wimps who can't wrap their heads around the simple notion that all forms of love are equally wonderful and in short supply in this cesspool of a universe.

I mean a cure other than six point restraints, a sawzall and a melon baller.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:16 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


If there's a cure that worked, I'd take it.
mike, would you have wanted your mother to take it before you were even born?

There's Hard Pill, and before that, Twilight of the Golds
posted by amberglow at 3:16 PM on December 31, 2006


Probably not but she works in the medical profession so it should really throw her for a loop i.e. does she believe in what her pastor tells her to believe or does she believe the science she depends on daily to save lives.

It will be a blast to watch her brain explode as it overloads with fact versus fantasy.
posted by photoslob at 3:16 PM on December 31, 2006


This is such a fascinating issue to me. Unlike many other issues of genetic or biological engineering of sorts, this issue of influencing the biological determinants of sexuality is so much more volatile right now. There are so many perspectives to approach it from...

I find it hard to accept that one day parents will use conception as a moment in which they are presented with their "child template," a nice outline of how their current "work" will probably turn out. They will then be given a list of "options," a bit like purchasing a luxury vehicle, with which to modify their "base child template."

Choosing sexuality, at that point, becomes no more or less meaningful as customizing hair color, or muscle mass, etc. because all the humanity will have been cleansed from the collective mindset from the get-go.

Right now, however, I was born not-gay, and I do not miss being gay. If my parents had made that decision, would I thank them or resent them? I don't know. I am not sure I'd care, because I don't have a personal frame of reference to understand what I'm missing out on... If the opposite had been true, I'd only care because of the current political/social climate that I currently live in, otherwise my thoughts would be the same.

Not sure if any of the above is sensible... sorta just splurged a reaction out of the gut. This stuff fascinates me, though.
posted by dopamine at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2006


And there's no one on Earth who can yet perfectly predict the sexual orientation of a child. If that's not perfected before a treatment is made, what happens? People just act out of fear that just maybe possibly they'll have a gay kid?
posted by amberglow at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2006


amberglow wrote: Quite honestly, any pregnant woman who would volunteer or allow herself and her potential child to be experimented on this way does not deserve to be a parent at all, i don't think. Incredibly dangerous.

The only reply to which can be what delmoi wrote: If you believe that a woman has sovereignty over her body (and can have an abortion) then why shouldn't she be able to take drugs that alter prenatal development?

Is the fetus human, deserving of protection under the law, or not?

sits back, watches fellow liberals implode
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:20 PM on December 31, 2006 [8 favorites]


No mother wants their child to have a harder life than others. I know for sure my mother would have taken the treatment for this had it been available (i don't know if now, 42 years later, fewer mothers would do so or not).
posted by amberglow at 3:21 PM on December 31, 2006


This will wendell.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:21 PM on December 31, 2006


Is the fetus human, deserving of protection under the law, or not?

sits back, watches fellow liberals implode


Nicely done. I'll grab the popcorn.
posted by frogan at 3:22 PM on December 31, 2006


eustace, i would never call for anyone to be prevented from doing this, if and when it's perfected and available--ever. A fetus is only potentially human, and getting to the place where this is allowed will mean many willing pregnant volunteers--that's what i find dangerous and immoral.
posted by amberglow at 3:23 PM on December 31, 2006


A fetus that is brought to term and is born is deserving of the full protection of the law.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:23 PM on December 31, 2006


What a terrifying world these people must live in, these people who want everyone to be the same. And what a boring world that would be.
posted by interrobang at 3:24 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


If there is a gay patch that would solve the problem, let the parents choose, if they want. It's all about freedom of choice. With IVF, parents get to choose which embryo from a selection of a dozen or so. It may also be possible to determine if a child is gay pre-birth making abortion another option, similar to aborting female babies in India and China.
posted by stbalbach at 3:26 PM on December 31, 2006


The whole process of gestation is so complex and not fully understood--inserting hormones like this cannot be ethical, and the aim of such treatment certainly isn't.

Look at gender tests--right now pregnant women can know which gender their fetus will be. They can then either abort or carry the fetus to term--it's not like they take a treatment to change or fix that. (i'd be happier with that choice for women in terms of orientation--no one should be forced to have a child they'll hate or treat as less than.)
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on December 31, 2006


eustace, i would never call for anyone to be prevented from doing this, if and when it's perfected and available--ever. A fetus is only potentially human, and getting to the place where this is allowed will mean many willing pregnant volunteers--that's what i find dangerous and immoral.

amberglow, I was mostly just going for a laugh, but seriously, your reply makes no sense. You find the fact that women would volunteer for this dangerous and immoral? Why? Are you concerned that the procedure will somehow harm the women who undergo it?
I agree that the idea that this would happen is scary, and I'm opposed to mucking about with genetic makeup for mostly practical concerns. But if you're pro-choice, and the fetus is just a tissue blob, I just don't see the moral dimension.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:27 PM on December 31, 2006


stbalbach writes "Anyone who is pro-abortion would be hypocritical to deny a woman this choice."

What the gibbering fuck?

mike3k writes "If there's a cure that worked, I'd take it."

The use of the word 'cure' presupposes that homosexuality is a disease. And I don't think you have any idea how very sad reading that statement made me.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:31 PM on December 31, 2006 [5 favorites]


There's a moral dimension for the simple fact that a woman who becomes pregnant--if she wants the eventual result--protects that fetus as it grows. It's her responsibility to do so--again--if she wants it to ever be a baby. Any tests for this would have to involve pregnant women--it would be required by law to do human testing.

A pregnant woman who wanted to carry to term that would allow herself and her potential offspring to be used as a guinea pig like this is not acting morally. This would be extraordinarily dangerous to both her and her fetus.
posted by amberglow at 3:32 PM on December 31, 2006


Divine_Wino writes "A fetus that is brought to term and is born is deserving of the full protection of the law."

Yes, precisely. Correcting medical problems in utero is a no-brainer. Something like this..? Disgusting.

eustacescrubb writes "Why? Are you concerned that the procedure will somehow harm the women who undergo it?"

No, that it would harm their potential children. (And don't, please, bother getting into a 'well then all aborted fetuses are potential children' derail. If you have chosen to bring your child to term, then you don't get to experiement on that child).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:34 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


homosexuality aside, this leaves me somewhat speechless. in my world, a beast isn't capable of "preference" or "orientation". it simply reacts to the blind instinct to hump something. talk of gay sheep is insane. 1 in 10 rams "prefers" to mount other rams? probably one in ten dogs will hump a table leg. i suppose that makes them furnisexual?

looking for a "cure" by studying beasts is as stupidly degrading as pointing to same-sex-humping beasts as evidence that homosexuality is "natural".

PUHLEEEEEEEEZE.
posted by quonsar at 3:35 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't that read "the only OPENLY gay Republican"?
posted by Postroad at 3:36 PM on December 31, 2006


The laughing stock of the world.
posted by fire&wings at 3:36 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also: Brain Candy
posted by blenderfish at 3:36 PM on December 31, 2006


The day I can definitively tell my ignorant-due-to-her-belief-in-the-baby-jeebus mother-in-law that homosexuality is genetic and have the data to back it up will be one of the best days of my life.

Not genetic. In utero hormonal balance. The big difference? To the extent that homosexuality is biological in origin, it most likely isn't inheritable. However, I remain convinced that homosexuality isn't purely biological in origin. I know gay people who say it isn't a choice, and gay people who say it totally is for them.

Amberglow: if my memory of Breedlove/Jordan's research into this is correct, then the hormonal balance in question is a fairly simple proposition provided there is close monitoring. Except in cases of extreme malpractice it seems like it would be reasonably non-threatening to both participants. As far as the biological component goes, there's not likely to ever be a 'cure' but the vaccine doesn't seem like it would be terrifcally complicated or dangerous. I think our society will be somewhat poorer if homosexual people are all but eliminated, but as you just said - no mother wants to make their life harder, and I think that unfortunately most would opt to have straight children.
posted by Ryvar at 3:37 PM on December 31, 2006


stbalbach writes "Anyone who is pro-abortion would be hypocritical to deny a woman this choice."

dirtynumbangelboy writes What the gibbering fuck?


Welcome to the Morality Minefield Game, where there are no winners.

* Pro-choice = a woman can choose to do what she likes to her body, fetus be damned = no moral grounds to stop her from using an anti-gay patch.

* Pro-choice + a stance against a anti-homosexuality patch = you're OK with killing the fetus, but not drugging it.

As I said, welcome.
posted by frogan at 3:37 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


If you have chosen to bring your child to term, then you don't get to experiment on that child

Exactly. It's abhorrent.
posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on December 31, 2006


getting to the place where this is allowed will mean many willing pregnant volunteers--that's what i find dangerous and immoral.

i suppose they'll be "murdering gay babies in the womb", eh?
posted by quonsar at 3:40 PM on December 31, 2006


Ryvar, it would have to shown clearly and completely and with no doubt that the process of gestation itself, this proposed treatment, and possible ramifications on development in general, and the future life of the child, etc, would not have been otherwise harmed. Is that possible? Wouldn't it have to be experimented and then the children followed for years--at least until sexual awakening or puberty? And watched for all signs that this affected them in other ways?
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2006


Gattaca
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2006


i suppose they'll be "murdering gay babies in the womb", eh?
Nope. I would be more ok with that scenario, as i said above.
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2006


Look at gender tests--right now pregnant women can know which gender their fetus will be. They can then either abort or carry the fetus to term

Wow. We found out the gender of our children via ultrasound, because we were curious and excited. It never occured to me that someone would abort the fetus on the grounds of it being the wrong gender. That too, is scary.


What the gibbering fuck?

Eh, dirtynumbangelboy, stbalbach is right -- if you're pro-choice, then the fetus, at the time this procedure would be done, is part of the woman's body, and she is free to do as she pleases to it.

There's a moral dimension for the simple fact that a woman who becomes pregnant--if she wants the eventual result--protects that fetus as it grows. It's her responsibility to do so--again--if she wants it to ever be a baby. Any tests for this would have to involve pregnant women--it would be required by law to do human testing.

On what moral grounds should a woman be bound to protect what is, at this point, considered to be a part of her body, a part which, according to the reasoning behind pro-choice politics, is free game for elective surgery? Are you saying that because she wants it to eventually be a baby, she's bound to protect it? Where does this moral imperative come from?
I understand that women who want thier babies do, as part of being mothers, feel an instinct to protect them, but from a pro-choice standpoint, any such instinct directed towards a fetus would be anthropomorphizing, or it would be explainable by something like selfish genes, but neither of those things constitues a moral position.

If you have chosen to bring your child to term, then you don't get to experiement on that child

But (and I'm playing devil's advocate here) why not? Says who? And, most importantly, how do you write a law that protects the rights of unborn children not to be experimented upon, when we don't recognize unborn children as deserving of protection under the law? You may want to pass it off as a derail, but it's a serious legal quandry for the pro-choice, pro-gay folks.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:42 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


My wife and I want one more child. I hope that someone out there, preferably a sinister European transplant with a shoe fetish or something, is working on a vaccine against not having super-strong squid tentacles and death-ray eye-beams. I want the best for my unconceived child (a sperm is a child!) and nothing is better than super-strong squid tentacles and death-ray eye-beams.
posted by Mister_A at 3:43 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


Ryvar, aren't they going to be watching these sheep for their whole lifetimes to see if it worked? They would have to watch children as well, no?
posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on December 31, 2006


If you have chosen to bring your child to term, then you don't get to experiement on that child

i see. the fetus becomes human at the moment of its mothers choosing.
posted by quonsar at 3:44 PM on December 31, 2006


Meanwhile, the GOP's only gay congressman retires.

The only one, eh? That sounds as likely as the GOP having only one congressman who takes money from special interest groups.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:46 PM on December 31, 2006


i see. the fetus becomes human at the moment of its mothers choosing.

heh, Schroedinger's baby
posted by sineater at 3:46 PM on December 31, 2006 [7 favorites]


if you're pro-choice, then the fetus, at the time this procedure would be done, is part of the woman's body, and she is free to do as she pleases to it.

Not necessarily true. If, for example, an intruder breaks into your home, you may be entitled to shoot them, but you wouldn't be allowed to perform involuntary surgery or medical treatment on them!

Not saying a fetus is necessarily "an intruder," but I think you're statement espouses a bit of a false dichotomy.
posted by blenderfish at 3:47 PM on December 31, 2006


Not necessarily true. If, for example, an intruder breaks into your home, you may be entitled to shoot them, but you wouldn't be allowed to perform involuntary surgery or medical treatment on them!

Huh? Pulling out the Chewbacca Defense this soon?
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:48 PM on December 31, 2006


Is claiming that homosexuality is strictly and always genetic any less ideological/dogmatic than claiming that it is strictly and always a matter of individual choice?
posted by kowalski at 3:49 PM on December 31, 2006


Why would somebody want to bring a homosexual child into this world of blind, seething hate and institutionalized discrimination? How can this neonatal vaccine be a bad thing? Do you want god-fearing bible-thumping Christians to keep having gay babies, who are forced to repress everything about themselves just to survive in their culture?
posted by tehloki at 3:49 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


blenderfish makes a good point, one that's taught to most law students: the fallacy of the lesser included right.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:50 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Are you saying that because she wants it to eventually be a baby, she's bound to protect it? Where does this moral imperative come from?

eustace, because she wants it to be born at all, born healthy, and to survive, she is obligated to protect it while it's inside her--again if she wants it at all. I don't know that it's an uncommon view. When a woman decides to carry to term, she gains responsibility for doing so. The (wanted) product and result of the pregnancy is in itself dependent on the woman acting responsibly.
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on December 31, 2006


blenderfish makes a good point

No he doesn't. Point me to an instance where a woman is prosecuted for drinking alcohol while pregnant.
posted by frogan at 3:53 PM on December 31, 2006


The use of the word 'cure' presupposes that homosexuality is a disease. And I don't think you have any idea how very sad reading that statement made me.

I agree (despite the fact that I just did it myself for the sake of convenience), but that's how it's going to enter the vernacular unless anti-discrimination groups do a massive PR push *now*.

If you have chosen to bring your child to term, then you don't get to experiment on that child

Parenting *IS* experimentation on children, start to finish. Most people fail at it, too. I'm not sure what makes this morally worse than the ideological conditioning fundie children undergo.

Ryvar, it would have to shown clearly and completely and with no doubt that the process of gestation itself, this proposed treatment, and possible ramifications on development in general, and the future life of the child, etc, would not have been otherwise harmed. Is that possible? Wouldn't it have to be experimented and then the children followed for years--at least until sexual awakening or puberty? And watched for all signs that this affected them in other ways?

Amberglow what *appears* to be involved is a minor offset of prenatal testosterone levels. The more male children a mother has had, in general the lower the levels and the higher likelihood of a gay child being produced. In the rare cases of someone being the 11th male child in their family, homosexuality is occurs at an almost 50% rate (with no data on whether they feel they have a choice, unfortunately). A minor raising of the testosterone level in the mother with some careful monitoring to make sure it doesn't go too high or too low should really be all that's involved. In the grand scheme of medicine this is not exactly rocket science, nor does it seem likely to be terribly dangerous or require significant followup beyond the usual for any child.
posted by Ryvar at 3:53 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


Next time someone breaks into my house, I'm totally performing surgery on them!
posted by aubilenon at 3:53 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Point me to an instance where a woman is prosecuted for drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Ahem.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:54 PM on December 31, 2006


frogan, here you go: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/313/7058/645/a
that's the first hit out of 130,000
posted by sineater at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2006


Pro-choice + a stance against a anti-homosexuality patch = you're OK with killing the fetus, but not drugging it.

I think the argument would be, you can choose whether or not to have a child, but if you are going to have a child, you cannot choose to manipulate its genes/hormonal environment to fit your preconceived expectation of what your child should be like. I don't see how abortion has anything to do with it, because we're not talking about the actual blob of tissue, but the potential child that is being created.

It isn't a simple issue... no one would deny a parent the right to solve disease or disfigurement in utero, but altering personality or identity traits is harder to accept. What about largely negative but still potentially interesting / unique traits, like being a 'little person'? Or what about less desirable aspects of a personality like having a bad temper? maybe if we erase the anger component, we also lose some portion of creativity in the person. If we normalize everyone, we're at risk of losing something valuable...
posted by mdn at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


Do you want god-fearing bible-thumping Christians to keep having gay babies, who are forced to repress everything about themselves just to survive in their culture?
It's not their choice--it keeps on happening no matter what they believe, which should be showing them how wrong they are about their hate and the impact it has on all of us, let alone their own kids. God has never ever listened to them on this, contrary to their explicit and fundamental beliefs.
posted by amberglow at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2006


I think the gummint should figger out what hormone makes people comminists and libruls and put somethin in the water to prevint it
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2006


eustace, because she wants it to be born at all, born healthy, and to survive, she is obligated to protect it while it's inside her--again if she wants it at all. I don't know that it's an uncommon view. When a woman decides to carry to term, she gains responsibility for doing so. The (wanted) product and result of the pregnancy is in itself dependent on the woman acting responsibly.

But, as I wrote above, this is a practical, survival-related instinct, not a moral imperative. In what way is it a moral issue?
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:56 PM on December 31, 2006


A fetus never becoming a person is 'better' than a person being created who may have horrible physical or mental problems because of the mother's choices. I don't see the pro-choice comparison.
posted by hypervenom at 3:57 PM on December 31, 2006


mmmm... sheep.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:59 PM on December 31, 2006


If the fundamentalists are ok with an anti-gay-baby patch, should they not also accept the anti-brown-skin patch? The pro-gay-baby patch? The anti-religion-tendency patch?
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:01 PM on December 31, 2006


blenderfish makes a good point, one that's taught to most law students: the fallacy of the lesser included right.

isn't the right in question really a woman's right to privacy? ... isn't that the whole justification for roe vs wade?

how can one have a right to privacy for selecting whether a fetus lives or dies and not have a right to privacy for influencing the child's sexual preference? ... and if you allow the first and not the last, how are you going to prohibit people from aborting fetuses because a test shows they might be gay?

no one would deny a parent the right to solve disease or disfigurement in utero, but altering personality or identity traits is harder to accept.

except that some will choose to do it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:02 PM on December 31, 2006


Parenting *IS* experimentation on children, start to finish. Most people fail at it, too.

With the exception of most of the parents of the six billion people currently on this earth, and the exception of their parents, and the exception of their parents, and the exception of their parents, and the exception of their parents...
posted by furtive at 4:04 PM on December 31, 2006


A fetus never becoming a person is 'better' than a person being created who may have horrible physical or mental problems because of the mother's choices. I don't see the pro-choice comparison.

Because, hypervenom, the law, and pro-choice politics deliberately refuse to consider what the fetus will become in making judgement calls on what a woman can and cannot do to it. So considering what might happen to a fetus that is expermineted upon would mean consdering what the fetus will become in the future and protecting that future human being from harm -- which contradicts pro-choice ideology and (at present) would be a legal nightmare if made law.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:06 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


This might not turn out well. Say a hormonal patch is developed that is fairly effective at preventing male fetuses from turning out gay. I bet one effect on some of the treated would be that it hyper-masculinizes them. The grow up to be physically aggressive, prone to fight, not willing to back down and hard chargers in general.

Some parents might welcome this because they hope to raise football players or police men or top CEOs.

However if this treatment is widely adopted in society that I fear that there will be a large increase in psychopaths and assholes.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:08 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


In 3 billion years, when our galaxy collides with Andromeda, just remember that it was all because of the gays.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


But, as I wrote above, this is a practical, survival-related instinct, not a moral imperative. In what way is it a moral issue?
It may or may not be an instinctual thing--it could be and often is wholly conscious and rational (you want something; you do these things to ensure the most likely success). And since when is morality unrelated to our choices?
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2006


while we're at it, there's another issue here ... why shouldn't sheep ranchers have the right to maximize the reproductive capability of their flocks by research?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2006


looking for a "cure" by studying beasts is as stupidly degrading as pointing to same-sex-humping beasts as evidence that homosexuality is "natural".

PUHLEEEEEEEEZE.
posted by quonsar at 3:35 PM PST on December 31 [+][!]


This is a very weak argument. Are you trying to say that animal testing is not effective? That's clearly false. Are you saying human sexuality is completely incompatible with animal sexuality? Even that statement contradicts a lot of science. Simple anatomy says otherwise. Do you not consider humans animals?

I think if anyone is being degraded by the sheep testing, it's the sheep that are getting hormones injected directly into their brains. I'm not exactly an advocate of animal rights - I believe animal testing is often good and saves lives - but science can't be performed in a vaccuum, and it's unclear what good will be achieved with this research; the animals we torture on the way are just more victims.

Though ultimately I do agree with you. It is degrading work, and I would be ashamed to work on such a study. Looking for a cure FULL STOP is the degrading part - not the animal involvement, that's valid science.
posted by mek at 4:10 PM on December 31, 2006


what quonsar said.

I don't know why people want to believe that they are nothing more then instinct controlled animals...
posted by kolophon at 4:11 PM on December 31, 2006


Monkey, i see that too, and that's why i think any children that resulted from this treatment would have to be studied for impacts.
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on December 31, 2006


I don't know why people want to believe that they are nothing more then instinct controlled animals

but if you believe that, how does one argue that they have rights?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:13 PM on December 31, 2006


It may or may not be an instinctual thing--it could be and often is wholly conscious and rational (you want something; you do these things to ensure the most likely success). And since when is morality unrelated to our choices?

Eh, you're not answering the question. You're right that it might not be instinctual, but it doesn't follow that all behavior that is not instinct-based is therefore motivated by moral concerns. When you first replied to me, you used very strong wording: "that's what i find dangerous and immoral" -- what I'm curious to know is why you find it immoral. For example, I find murder immoral because I believe that no one has the right to take life from another, or, indeed, to bring harm to another person. A pro-life person finds abortion immoral because they believe the same and include fetuses in the set defined by the term "person." Pro-choice people don't include fetuses in the set of things defined by the term "person", and so don't find abortion immoral.
Now, it's your turn...
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:18 PM on December 31, 2006


This is a very weak argument. Are you trying to say that animal testing is not effective?

talk about missing the point. talk of gay sheep is insane.
posted by quonsar at 4:20 PM on December 31, 2006


On one hand: the idea of designer babies is extremely creepy.

On the other hand: creepy does not equal wrong.

I'm pro-choice, and yeah, I can see how this would be a mother's choice, as long as it isn't physically dangerous to the potential infant. What if science finds that eating large numbers of cucumbers also prevents future children from being gay? Do we prevent cucumber-eating?

I think there will always be people who will choose the natural route of genetic trait selection... in fact, I suspect that even people who might pick the cucumber method will be creeped out by the idea of a "gay vaccine."
posted by mazatec at 4:23 PM on December 31, 2006


the idea of designer babies is extremely creepy.

Yeah. just where exactly do they intend to stitch the label?
posted by jonmc at 4:25 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


As to the livestock angle, the commercial viability of such a vaccine would be a big stretch. I don't have a lot of experience in raising livestock, but I do have some with cattle, and generally a very small fraction of the herd are the reproductive males, pre-selected for their ideal attributes and virility.

The presence of homosexual animals is not a significant concern since the vast majority of males are slaughtered at a young age, and not kept for reproductive purposes. It would certainly be impractical to test every pregnant cow, so the other option is to administer the vaccine indiscriminately. This might not even be possible due to side-effects: as others have mentioned, hypermasculinity would be an extreme negative side effect, as aggressive bulls are truly dangerous to ranch workers. That would be a deal-breaker to livestock farmers, without a doubt - bulls can kill, both humans and other cattle. Subsequently, side-effects would have to be nonexistent when mis-administered, OR testing would have to be simple and super-cheap. The vaccine itself would also have to be cheap.

Even in a best-case scenario, the vaccine's benefit would be small and long-term.
posted by mek at 4:26 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


frogan, here you go: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/313/7058/645/a
that's the first hit out of 130,000


I'm so glad you feel better about your point.

So, I'm sure you'll favor legislation outlawing the purchase of aspirin, alcohol and cigarettes to women of child-bearing age because they might be experimenting on their fetuses?

Like I said, no winners.
posted by frogan at 4:27 PM on December 31, 2006



the idea of designer babies is extremely creepy.

Yeah. just where exactly do they intend to stitch the label?



Self-Made Man

by David Byrne


We're living in a dump
Trying to figure out what sex we are
Exchanging chromosomes
Trying to bargain for a better future
Well I'll trade you my potential mental illness
For your bad teeth
How 'bout trading your sexy body for a full head of hair
Well we can't predict the future
But we're trying to do the best that we can
My cards are on the table
I'm gambling everything that I am
And some of us are hoping
To end up with a perfect life
I'll trade you everything that I got
For the chance to be someone else
But what you see is what you get
And what you give is what you choose
And what I am
What you see
Is exactly what I chose to be

Now we got a black market
Black market in designer genes
Most beautiful, most intelligent criminals you've ever seen
Now you're paying top dollar
For what you used to get for free
They'll stun you with their looks
And charm you with effortless ease

They've taken everything from you
The way you walk
The way you smile
The sound of your voice
Don't even know who you are
Who are you now?
Who are you now?

I'm a self made man, I'm a self-made man
I'm a self-made man (I got nothing left to give)
I'm a self-made man (I got nothing left to lose)

On down the hallway
The freaks are waiting for you
Somebody calls me
The freaks are waiting for you
And the clown will laugh in your face
Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho
The clown will laugh in your face
Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho
The clown will laugh in your face
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:27 PM on December 31, 2006


A pregnant woman who wanted to carry to term that would allow herself and her potential offspring to be used as a guinea pig like this is not acting morally. This would be extraordinarily dangerous to both her and her fetus.

Well the 'treatment' hasn't even been proposed yet, so how can you tell if it will be dangerous or not. I mean it could be as simple as eating certain types of food with the right metabolic precursors.

The fact is people manipulate their hormone levels all the time, it would be no different then taking birth control during pregnancy, which happens all the time by mothers who don't realize their pregnant (yes, some pregnant women continue to have periods)

All your arguments center around danger, and then you go on to say that even if there were no immediate abnormalities then you still can't know, unless you track the babies their whole lives and bla bla bla.

Unless you can scientifically prove there is a real danger, you're not making a compelling argument.
posted by delmoi at 4:31 PM on December 31, 2006


Greg Egan wrote a short story that involved something like this is 1994, Cocoon.
posted by Iax at 4:32 PM on December 31, 2006


A pregnant woman who wanted to carry to term that would allow herself and her potential offspring to be used as a guinea pig like this is not acting morally. This would be extraordinarily dangerous to both her and her fetus.

Aside from the fact that the "gay vaccine" is wholly hypothetical at this point, how is this any different from any other human drug testing on pregnant women and young children?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:33 PM on December 31, 2006


Anyone who is pro-abortion would be hypocritical to deny a woman this choice.

"Pro-abortion" is a typical example of the either-or fallacy. It would already be hypocritical to be "pro-abortion" since it implies that one thinks someone should first get pregnant, then abort (which is why we self-describe as pro-choice, as in pro-freedom). In fact, pro-life is a hypocritical position because it implies that those who should not otherwise be pregnant in their eyes should then be forced to have a child.
posted by Brian B. at 4:33 PM on December 31, 2006


A pro-life person finds abortion immoral because they believe the same and include fetuses in the set defined by the term "person." Pro-choice people don't include fetuses in the set of things defined by the term "person", and so don't find abortion immoral.

again, as I said above, I imagine the argument would be that while the fetus is not included in the set of things defined by the term person, the resulting child will be, and that child will have been determined to chosen specifications by its parents like a product. I find it hard to call this directly immoral; like mazatec, I am not sure we can truly connect creepy and wrong - but if people were arguing for it being wrong, presumably the complaint would be the level of active control the parents engaged in designing their progeny, which would alter the child from being a gift to being a product. It just doesn't seem like a healthy direction to move in. I'm not saying they're immoral, but I do think they're misunderstanding the parent-child relationship in a fundamental way...
posted by mdn at 4:36 PM on December 31, 2006


I imagine the argument would be that while the fetus is not included in the set of things defined by the term person, the resulting child will be

mdn, I was asking amberglow, but thanks for the reply anyhow. I'm curious -- are you pro-choice? If you are, then feel free to answer: how can a pro-choice person see one fetus (one destined to be aborted) as not deserving of protection from harm, while seeing another (one destined to be un-gayed) as deserving of it? Either the fetus's future status as a person ought to be considered or it oughtn't, yes?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:40 PM on December 31, 2006



1) Too much testosterone in the womb has also been linked with autism, so I'm doubting anyone would wish to perform that particular manipulation once mothers realized that that would be a risk.

2) Most of the choosing of characteristics of babies is not done on fetuses, but on embryos and the choice being made is to implant one clump of cells v. another. This is about the stem cell debate, not abortion, basically.

3) Deaf people and little people are already selecting *in favor of* their own kind in pre-implantation selections-- so why wouldn't gay people decide to have gay children similarly?

Everyone thinks that "eugenics" would result in everyone being the same-- but what people select for in their children, just as they do in their mates, is very, very individualistic and by canceling each other out would likely result in rather similar outcomes to "natural" selection.

4) This stuff is so extraordinarily complex, involving multiple genes and epigenetic changes and womb conditions and environmental stuff etc. etc. that it is going to be years and years, if ever, that this animal research would have any bearing on possible human choices.

5) I imagine there'd be a market for pills to make straight people gay as well-- the number of times my girlfriends and I have bitched about men and wished we could just be gay is enormous and I suspect we're not alone.

6) Many characteristics occur on a spectrum such that having one gene (say for sickle cell anemia) produces a benefit (reduced vulnerability to malaria) but if you have two copies, you have full-blown potentially debilitating disease. Similarly, relatives of schizophrenics tend to be extraordinarily successful in life-- they may have had one copy of a gene that helps brain function, but two copies caused vulnerability to schizophrenia. A similar problem may be at fault in some cases of autism (as one Mefite wrote in a great Wired article on the possible perils of "geeks mating").

So, again, trying to eliminate "bad things" might result in the elimination of many positive qualities and trying to enhance "good things" might have negative results.
posted by Maias at 4:40 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


This might not turn out well. Say a hormonal patch is developed that is fairly effective at preventing male fetuses from turning out gay. I bet one effect on some of the treated would be that it hyper-masculinizes them.

The outcome of which may well be an increased propensity to have sex with men.

I have a friend who was experimenting with testosterone once, while body building. The drug fucked with his arousal levels so much that he found himself masturbating over a cartoon rabbit on TV.

How far can it be to go from a cartoon rabbit to sex with a man?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:42 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


The drug fucked with his arousal levels so much that he found himself masturbating over a cartoon rabbit on TV.

neh ... (chomp, chomp, chomp) .... what's up, doc?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:44 PM on December 31, 2006


the number of times my girlfriends and I have bitched about men

Surely not? ;)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 PM on December 31, 2006


Metafilter: How far can it be to go from a cartoon rabbit to sex with a man?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:45 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


delmoi: Unless you can scientifically prove there is a real danger, you're not making a compelling argument.

I think this is backwards. I would say that unless you can scientifically prove there isn't a real danger, you're not making a compelling argument.

Wouldn't you want scientific testing to see what the long-term effects are first?
posted by mijuta at 4:46 PM on December 31, 2006


Because, hypervenom, the law, and pro-choice politics deliberately refuse to consider what the fetus will become in making judgement calls on what a woman can and cannot do to it. So considering what might happen to a fetus that is expermineted upon would mean consdering what the fetus will become in the future and protecting that future human being from harm -- which contradicts pro-choice ideology and (at present) would be a legal nightmare if made law.

Well yes, but I don't see why liberals (pro-choice ones, I guess) should explode. Making the "cure" illegal doesn't go against pro-choice sentiments.
posted by hypervenom at 4:46 PM on December 31, 2006


How far can it be to go from a cartoon rabbit to sex with a man?

I don't think Robert Crumb ever made that leap.
posted by BoringPostcards at 4:47 PM on December 31, 2006


Well yes, but I don't see why liberals (pro-choice ones, I guess) should explode

implode, not explode.

And it was a joke. For the ha-ha laugh-laughs. It only turned serious when the seriousistas took it too seriously.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:48 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Making the "cure" illegal doesn't go against pro-choice sentiments.

no ... but it does go against pro-choice LOGIC
posted by pyramid termite at 4:50 PM on December 31, 2006


It only turned serious when the seriousistas took it too seriously.

Never fear! The Hilariapatas are here to save you! ¡Venceremos! ¡Viva! ¡Fart Noises!
posted by jonmc at 4:50 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


... "that's what i find dangerous and immoral" -- what I'm curious to know is why you find it immoral. ...
Now, it's your turn...

I explained that already--i find it dangerous and immoral for a pregnant woman who wants to bear a child to be a guinea pig for the tests of this, which would have to happen. Do i really need to say it again?
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM on December 31, 2006


eustacescrubb: Huh? Pulling out the Chewbacca Defense this soon?

I'll try stating this again, hopefully in a manner clearer to you. My point is, that just because you may, in a certain situation, argue you have a right to end a person/being's life, this does not mean that you automatically are arguing that have a right to do any arbitrary thing to that person or being. As a specific example, I used an intruder breaking into one's home.

Therefore, saying that "pro-choice people think that it's okay to kill fetuses, ergo they have to think performing personality-altering procedures on them is okay." is wrong.

I'm not addressing this issue at large, or taking a particular side, just shooting down what I saw as a false dichotomy (that one has to be either "pro-life" or "anything-goes").

I'm certainly not a lawyer, and I'm not sure how this fits into Roe vs. Wade or US Constitutional law or anything. As far as "right of privacy" goes, I think that the Constitutional justification of something and the Moral/Ethical justification of something are often two very different things. ("interstate commerce" anyone?)
posted by blenderfish at 4:55 PM on December 31, 2006


A pro-life person finds abortion immoral because they believe the same and include fetuses in the set defined by the term "person."

Hardly ever. A pro-lifer is indoctrinated with religion to breed like rabbits, for obvious benefit to a hierarchy in need of cheap labor and cannon fodder. This shallow indoctrination is evident in their common refusal to personally provide welfare for the unwanted children they force onto society. Of course, it doesn't end there. There is a strong religious desire to punish perceived sinners as well, often with the bizarre rhetoric of personal responsibility (which best fits the abortion argument).
posted by Brian B. at 4:55 PM on December 31, 2006


I don't think Robert Crumb ever made that leap.

Yeah, but Crumb was a low-testosterone kind of guy. S. Clay Wilson would have been fisting Captain Pissgums in the wink of an eye.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:00 PM on December 31, 2006


"I don't know why people want to believe that they are nothing more then instinct controlled animals..."

Double negative aside, could you clarify what this is supposed to mean?
posted by vronsky at 5:09 PM on December 31, 2006


i find it dangerous and immoral for a pregnant woman who wants to bear a child to be a guinea pig for the tests of this, which would have to happen. Do i really need to say it again?

Only if you're interested in making a compelling argument. As it stands now, I know that you believe it, but I still don't know the moral framework from where it comes, which is what I've been trying to ask for.

blenderfish: your analogy (intruder in house) isn't analagous, which is why I'm having a hard time with it. The two situations are not enough alike for your intruder example to demonstrate the idea you're trying to demonstrate. Perhaps try another?

Brian B.: I'm not saying that there aren't pro-lifers with internal contradictions in their politics, but if you think al pro-lifers are indoctrinated sheep, then you obviously don't know very many.

And: I have a New Year's Eve party to go to.

Hapy New Year Metafilter!
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:11 PM on December 31, 2006


The drug fucked with his arousal levels so much that he found himself masturbating over a cartoon rabbit on TV.

Bugs or Jessica?

Seriously, though, I wonder if this isn't just an excuse to abuse parental fear for the sake of opening a new market? Run off a few batches of Nicabate patches without the nicotine component, advertise them heavily as "The anti-gay patch that's safe for your family! (* guaranteed 96% effective)", then rake in the money from scared parents for the next 16 years.

By the time anyone finds out their supposedly "immune" child is gay, you've made your billions. Then just point to the small print, offer your condolences to them that their child is one of the 4%, and sell your "new improved patch - now with added molcron!" version to the next generation.
posted by Pinback at 5:12 PM on December 31, 2006


I believe that the body of psychological evidence that scientists studying the human mind have collected, especially over the last century, shows that personality traits in general, even major personality traits like sexuality, are largely chemical in origin. Alter the chemical balance, and you alter the personality. Volitional resistance and/or embrace of this process derives from a comparison of current perceptive input ("how I think about things now") with previous perceptive input ("how I remember having thought about things"). Further, I believe this is in the process of becoming as useful an observation to psychology as evolutionary theory is to biology, and for the same reason: it, in a few simple sentences, explains why things are as they are.

However, as the "theory of chemical mind" becomes mainstream--and if it is correct, it will become mainstream, since experiments such as the one linked to as well as far more redeeming and terrifying experiments will prove it correct--it will profoundly alter human culture. Different subcultures will (and are) forming different protocols for chemical alteration of human personality. Courts, for example, have started using the option of ordering psychiatric treatment of personality traits that lead to criminality. I don't know, and couldn't casually google out, the proportion of children in first-world nations whose personality is currently undergoing chemical alteration; my guess is 5%. Similarly, there is a significant proportion of adults who take a prescription of personality-altering drugs, such as anti-depressants and/or calmatives.

It is in this light that the article ought to be considered. We are reaching a point where deviancy from what a society considers an acceptable personality for a human being to have will be medicable. The scientific line drawn between the possible and impossible will be in a different place from the political line drawn between the permissible and the impermissible. Of course, both lines are drawn in a cloud of unforseen consequences: it's entirely possible, my guess is likely, that a means of altering homosexuality (I won't use the term "cure"; I deeply dislike it in the context, and consider it an invitation to framing by politically driven anti-gay agenda pushers) would produce in some participants other, actually undesirable, sexual deviances - specifically, as others have pointed out, a tendency to sexual predation. Hard to tell, in sheep ... but I would be interested to see whether these rams fight each other and human handlers more; I suspect they will. Of course, these undesirable traits might be "curable" (and there, it is fair to use the word) in turn, and so on.

Anyway the point I'm trying to make is that a biochemical basis for homosexuality necessarily implies a biochemical means for alteration. A biochemical basis for any personality trait necessarily implies a biochemical means of alteration. And that implies larger dangers than the important, but relatively small, threat to liberty posed by the possibility of altering sexual attraction. The thing is, in this modern world, "depression" and "stress" and "disciplinary problems" are much more justified than we allow ourselves to think. The problem isn't with the human being, the human being is sane. These are sane responses to an insane situation. We've dodged the dystopia of 1984, the information revolution has seen that spectre off, but Brave New World is looms on the horizon.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:14 PM on December 31, 2006 [8 favorites]


i find it dangerous and immoral for a pregnant woman who wants to bear a child to be a guinea pig for the tests of this, which would have to happen. Do i really need to say it again?

So, again, is all human medical testing on pregnant women and young children out? Or is there something uniquely dangerous about the wholly hypothetical "gay vaccine"?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:14 PM on December 31, 2006


pyramid termite "I don't know why people want to believe that they are nothing more then instinct controlled animals" but if you believe that, how does one argue that they have rights?

By detaching "having rights" from "having the physical shape and characteristics of a human". Consider rights to be shields against suffering, and grant them on the basis of capacity to suffer. See Peter Singer's writings for examples of this philosophical approach.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:19 PM on December 31, 2006


Perhaps the best thing would be to make everyone bisexual. That way everyone's chances of getting laid doubles and we all look fablous.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on December 31, 2006 [6 favorites]


Making the "cure" illegal doesn't go against pro-choice sentiments.

no ... but it does go against pro-choice LOGIC


The way I see it is that both abortion and altering your offspring are on a continuum. Everyone picks a spot on the continuum that serves as their tipping point; one side of that point is fine, one isn't. But that point is different for each individual.

For instance, most pro-choice people nowadays seem to be against third trimester abortions, except in the most dire of circumstances. That doesn't mean that they are pro-life. Similarly, many pro-life people seem to feel that abortion is okay under some (very) limited conditions.

To a certain extent, everyone selects their children by the person they choose to mate with; this choice can influence intelligence, skin color, potential personality traits, etc. For IVF, as already noted upthread, people have even more freedom to choose. Yet most people don't find these methods of selection to be immoral. On the other hand, if there were a genetic process that could produce one-eyed, green-skinned monster children, most people would view that as immoral and unfair to the child.

So is this type of genetic modification immoral? Well, I guess it depends where your "tipping point" is. I think it's okay; after all, a child is probably not going to miss being gay if they are straight (just for the record, I think that a "straight vaccine" would be just as acceptable).
posted by mazatec at 5:20 PM on December 31, 2006


I want a vaccine to prevent any future unborn children of mine from voting Republican.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:23 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Similarly, relatives of schizophrenics tend to be extraordinarily successful in life-- they may have had one copy of a gene that helps brain function, but two copies caused vulnerability to schizophrenia. A similar problem may be at fault in some cases of autism (as one Mefite wrote in a great Wired article on the possible perils of "geeks mating").

Very interesting, thanks for reminding us Maias.

On a side note , it may be useful to differentiate between:

a) homosexual because of how brain is "wired" (a person with a "gender" different from the one suggested by genitals)

b) homosexual because of preference choice

Some would argue this is a false dicotomy as , after all, choice isn't but the product of some process that is likely to be affected by how our brain is formed. Yet there I am aware of heterosexuals who , later in their adult life, "discovered" they "really" were homosexuals. How is this compatible with an "homosexual gene" or gene defect ?

If the onset of sexual desire is set at beginning of puberty, why wasn't the sexual preference almost immediately clear to the children , who later "discovered" they homosexuality or heterosexuality ? If social pressure or personal choice is enough to switch a natural homosexual to heterosexual behaviors , one could argue a gene doesn't really "dictate" the choice.

We should also consider this : given that homosexual do not reproduce as much or are not as likely to reproduce as heterosexuals, if homosexuality is an entirely genetic determined behavior , it would probably have been removed from gene pool a long time ago.

Not because of some pseudo-darwinian, superior race bullshit "selection of the fittest", but quite simply because such a gene would be less likely to be passed down by heterosexual reproduction.
posted by elpapacito at 5:27 PM on December 31, 2006


The way I see it is that both abortion and altering your offspring are on a continuum. Everyone picks a spot on the continuum that serves as their tipping point; one side of that point is fine, one isn't. But that point is different for each individual.

Then influencing your child by any means at all, including conversation, example, and guidance, belongs on that same continuum. I think pro-choice/pro-life philosophy is all but irrelevant to this discussion. Those debates are about whether to have a child at all; this discussion is about the child as he or she "turns out" as a member of society.

The only way abortion choices might matter in this context is to a possible mother who, given a certainty of having a homosexual child (not something that's detectable, to my knowledge), might choose abortion; however if told of this treatment, she might instead choose to have the child. That's a bizarre mix of philosophical views. I'm not saying it's impossible to be both willing to have an abortion and unwilling to have a homosexual child; it just strikes me as rather unlikely in practice.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:30 PM on December 31, 2006


I want a vaccine to prevent any future unborn children of mine from voting Republican.

Not impossible. Republicanism may derive from deficiencies of imagination, empathy, and intellect; at least, it correlates heavily with such deficiencies.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:32 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


if you are going to have a child, you cannot choose to manipulate its genes/hormonal environment to fit your preconceived expectation of what your child should be like

So, no genetic or hormonal manipulation ever? You just cut an entire area of medical science off -- that could help with who knows how many actual defects that make people suffer -- in order to make sure we continue to keep having gay children? Shit. I'm all for making sure we treat the people who are gay and are alive like human beings, but seriously, being gay is probably not essential enough to actively preserve, and it's damn sure not important enough to keep from trying to work out serious congenital disorders.

If the fundamentalists are ok with an anti-gay-baby patch, should they not also accept the anti-brown-skin patch? The pro-gay-baby patch? The anti-religion-tendency patch?

Fundamentalists will almost certainly hate it, which would give them something in common with the don't-change-the-gay-fetus advocates. Maybe that oughta give the latter group pause.
posted by namespan at 5:34 PM on December 31, 2006


Well, as long as we're at it, there are many countries where they would like a vaccine for having babies that are... dare I say it... female. And a lot of people in those countries would readily take that vaccine. (Although... then... it would become increasingly difficult to have more babies of any kind, wouldn't it?)
posted by miss lynnster at 5:36 PM on December 31, 2006


Brian B.: I'm not saying that there aren't pro-lifers with internal contradictions in their politics, but if you think al pro-lifers are indoctrinated sheep, then you obviously don't know very many.

I would say that nobody really fits your description, and not just because poverty and hunger in the world make it absurd, but because the mother's life and legal rights are endangered in the debate itself, which shows bad faith. I would propose, rather, that the forced-birthing crowd believes that a fetus is pure and that existing humans are all corrupt and secondary. This idea of purity, to them, transcends our own rights. Of course, the purism is nonsense from a genetic standpoint, because the fetus inherits corruptions from bad parents in more ways than one, and perhaps more severely if unwanted.
posted by Brian B. at 5:36 PM on December 31, 2006


Yes - makes perfect sense (not).

And as with everything that neocon, republicon, Bible-beaters do, this will only serve to make the world even worse than before.
posted by rougy at 5:36 PM on December 31, 2006


Still no cure for prancer.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:38 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


amberglow and the others who think prenatal testing of this would be immoral, do you feel the same way about prenatal testing of a medicine that might completely eliminate cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy? if not, why not?
posted by bruce at 5:46 PM on December 31, 2006


The way I see it is that both abortion and altering your offspring are on a continuum.

perhaps so ... but of course, the problem comes when some people not only decide where they stand on the continuum, but advocate for laws that will make everyone else stand there too ... to say the least, that requires some justification by reference to some kind of consistent political philosophy ... and i don't see how one can argue laws for choice in abortion and against choice in choosing the attributes of one's offspring, especially if abortion was to be the means of rejecting what one didn't want
posted by pyramid termite at 5:46 PM on December 31, 2006


So, again, is all human medical testing on pregnant women and young children out?

As an RA at a human medical research facility, I'll say that, no, there is not a blanket prohibition on research involving pregnant women and children provided the research has tangible benefits to these populations and cannot be conducted in any other manner.

Although it's not my area of expertise, I can say with near absolute certainty that research towards developing an intervention to change the sexual orientation of a foetus would never, ever, ever pass an ethical review board in any Western country. Deprived of research funding, there is absolutely no chance a "gay vaccine" will ever be developed.

Sure, you could have a right-wing Dr. Evil -type scenario where some evil billionaire decides to pursue the research outside the bounds of the academic research community. They would spend all their fortune to no end -- it is laughable to suggest a drug could be developed that could prevent the development of a trait/behaviour/characteristic under the influence of so many genetic, hormonal, social, cultural and psychological factors as homsexuality. You might as well say you will build a bike to pedal to Mars.

Cannot, will not be done. Anyone who suggests differently does not know what they're talking about.
posted by docgonzo at 5:47 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Something occurred to me, while watching the trailer for Hard Pill. Assuming such a pill existed, the intended target market is self-hating gay men ... but a hell of a lot of unhappy, sexually frustrated beta-male straight men would want it too. Just like Viagra, really.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:47 PM on December 31, 2006


Sick, considering time could be better spent on finding cures for diseases, ect.
posted by bluehermit at 5:47 PM on December 31, 2006


prenatal testing of a medicine that might completely eliminate cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy?

Because those are diseases, classified as such. Homosexuality has not been classified as a disease since (I think) the DSM-III.
posted by docgonzo at 5:50 PM on December 31, 2006


I flagged maias's comment as fab. It raised a number of good points clearly and concisely (well done, sir).

His point 3) was one I considered raising myself. Deaf people and little people are already selecting *in favor of* their own kind in pre-implantation selections-- so why wouldn't gay people decide to have gay children similarly?

Whether or not the swing from choosing non-gay and choosing gay would make much difference to overall gay numbers is a topic for discussion (I think it would, but by not by as much as expected). c.f. The increasingly available option of sperm donation as a way of procreating.

But also of interest was the comment by elpapacito: if homosexuality is an entirely genetic determined behavior , it would probably have been removed from gene pool a long time ago.

The argument has been made that homosexuality is in fact a survival trait, not because of its contribution to the gene pool, but because of its contribution to the survival of other children (evolution as something that happens to species, rather than individuals). I.e, it's useful for the tribe to have non-reproductively-competing members that can provide care in difficult circumstances. Not every genetic change need be directly positive to reproductive success to survive, some just co-exist with others, and some just don't impact until other changes prove their utility.

My own feeling is that such changes are inevitable. If we try and restrict them by some standard of arbitrary morality based on what has gone before, we run the risk of hamstringing ourselves. We should proceed, but not at the risk of ignoring the very credible genetic dangers that (again) Maias mentions. It's informed opinion time again, folks.
posted by Sparx at 5:52 PM on December 31, 2006


The best reason for keeping abortion legal is to take advantage of future tests that can screen for congenital defects. People who force births onto others should consider what rights they themselves are surrendering as parents and grandparents.
posted by Brian B. at 5:53 PM on December 31, 2006


i don't think homosexuality is a "disease" either, but there are a great many people out there who view heterosexuality as a desirable trait for their children. it's not a moral issue, it's a freedom issue, and most libertarians like myself place the onus of justification on those who would limit a stranger's freedom. i'm old enough to remember "better dead than red" and some otherwise pro-choice people are raising the troubling banner "better dead than straight".
posted by bruce at 5:57 PM on December 31, 2006


elpapacito, humans could easily have evolved to be as successful as we are and also produce whatever the percentage (10%?) is of homosexual population. All species have quite a lot of non-maximally efficient traits (evolutionarily speaking) that aren't detrimental enough to cause the species to die out. In fact, the number of observed species that have some sort of homosexual behavior is growing all the time.
posted by sineater at 5:59 PM on December 31, 2006


Most medical testing is done to evaluate the efficacy of a cure for a particular diseased state. Homosexuality is not a diseased state. This is more like testing how well liposuction works on fetuses.
posted by owhydididoit at 6:02 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]



thankx sparx (actually, i'm a girl though ;-), not a man trapped in a non-lesbian body...

regarding why homosexuality didn't get selected against: lots of evolutionary theory on this. one suggests that families with a gay member had kids more likely to survive because the "gay uncle or aunt" was essentially an additional parent/resource provider so even though s/he didn't reproduce s/he helped relatives reproduce.

another theory is that gay people's creativity helped their families be more likely to survive.. yet another is that gay people have more sex in general, including straight sex, enough to keep them reproducing... again, i'm presenting brief caricatures of these theories, but the point is, there's lots of gayness about and usually in such cases, there's an evolutionary reason or gayness is a byproduct of another characteristic that leads to successful reproduction (exaptation).

regarding "chemical" v. "environmental"-- there is no difference. you can get the same outcome via genes or environment. for example, childhood neglect can make a person socially geeky or genes can-- the chemical result in similar, as is the personality, but the original thing that caused the situation is different.

most characteristics result from a combo of both and the most heritable personality traits so far tend only to be about 50% heritable, so if gayness is like other complex traits, it's likely that you can arrive there via many different paths.

however you get there, however, the result is chemical: so just because you can change something chemically doesn't mean it's a 'disease.' it just means it's a human trait, all of which must ultimately be chemical unless you believe in a insubstantial soul that is not affected by the brain.
posted by Maias at 6:13 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


it's not a moral issue, it's a freedom issue, and most libertarians like myself place the onus of justification on those who would limit a stranger's freedom.

Good for you. That's just great!

Medical ethicists are not, by and large, libertarians and thus your chosen political flavour is irrelevant to this discussion.
posted by docgonzo at 6:15 PM on December 31, 2006


Because those are diseases, classified as such. Homosexuality has not been classified as a disease since (I think) the DSM-III.

The DSM-III is the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders", not genetic disorders; it includes and has always included disorders acquired through incidents in life such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or physical brain damage, or drug use. It doesn't include cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy.

Assuming a manual of genetic characteristics existed, one might think it ought to be possible to line up some kind of spectrum of classification into desirable, normal, and undesirable; but except for characteristics deep in the undesirable section, such as cystic fibrosis, the rest of the spectrum would be far more contentious than mental disorders. I suppose in our theoretical society, each of us could construct our own spectrum, and we could average them out and make policy based on it, and start to treat those unfortunates afflicted by those characteristics deemed undesirable ... but my guess is that homosexuality would be around the same region of the spectrum as skin freckles, or being more than one standard deviation away from average height.

The only reason we're discussing this is because homosexuals are and historically have been persecuted. The only reason that is the case is because of the historical popularity of Middle East-derived religions that counsel such persecution. The reason they do so is because they developed from the religions of Stone Age tribes that placed a very high survival value on breeding (understandably so) at the time the religion was developing, and breeding has stayed a religiously promoted value, even though human living conditions in the last few centuries have become inescapably overcrowded.

On preview: Sparx is right. Evolutionary selection occurs on the species level, not the individual level. Having non-breeding members of a species is a survival benefit; they are freer to undertake all kinds of activities that promote the survival of the species. Also, sexuality is not a separate set of behaviors from other group-association behaviors; it is heavily associated with pack structure, with nepotistic instinct, with nest-sharing, with grooming, etc etc.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:17 PM on December 31, 2006


It doesn't matter if this 'vaccine' comes to fruition for use with humans, the damage is done. Now homophobes will feel validated in saying homosexuality can be eventually cured.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:20 PM on December 31, 2006


Medical ethicists are not, by and large, libertarians and thus your chosen political flavour is irrelevant to this discussion.

medical ethicists are not, by and large, congresspeople (or mps), so i wouldn't be so sure that political flavor is irrelevant
posted by pyramid termite at 6:20 PM on December 31, 2006



I'm gay, and frankly if the vaccine cures my brethren of that crass vanity, the affected, grating tenor, the vicious sniping and the unrestrained, poisonous approach to sexuality and other forms of consumption, and all the other sickening traits of their willing conformity with a mass sexual stereotype that is just as tasteless and hegemonic as the heterosexual one that previous generations fought heroically to overturn, then at this point I can only welcome it. If I could I would have a pleasing, if moody female wife as an everyday companion coupled with a rewarding variety of intense and affectionate male friendships that would not be strained by libidinal forces and the onerous baggage of homosexuality as a lifestyle and a label and all the false expectations that accompany it. But that's me.
posted by bukharin at 6:22 PM on December 31, 2006 [9 favorites]


I just wanted to point out that the fetal development angle of this is all purely speculative. The actual research on sheep involved altering adult males' hormone levels by injecting hormones directly into their brains.
posted by owhydididoit at 6:29 PM on December 31, 2006


The argument has been made that homosexuality is in fact a survival trait, not because of its contribution to the gene pool, but because of its contribution to the survival of other children (evolution as something that happens to species, rather than individuals).

Well I understand this argument, but I find its assumption (socially beneficial, therefore carried over generations) a little shaky.

It may as well be that some individual are beneficial because of their non-competitive, collaborative behavior, but that doesn't explain how the trait is transmitted, if it is induced by some gene.

That is to say : if the homosexual "gene" is beneficial to offspring generated by heterosexual, it will actually benefit heterosexuals..but how is the homosexual "gene" transmitted if it doesn't benefit itself by replicating itself ?

All species have quite a lot of non-maximally efficient traits (evolutionarily speaking) that aren't detrimental enough to cause the species to die out. In fact, the number of observed species that have some sort of homosexual behavior is growing all the time.

Well maybe it is growing because we are paying more attention, that doesn't imply the behavior is becoming more common. Indeed I agree there could be traits carried over that aren't that much detrimental and so aren't "deleted" as quickly.

Yet take for instance the human appendix, wisdom teeths and other parts of the human body which no longer seem to be particularly useful ; indeed they are still present in many bodies, but that could also happens because they don't appear to affect directly reproduction..so maybe they are simply carried over until they become a disadvantage (an inflamed appendix can kill you thus reducing your chance or reproducing) and are slowly removed.

Homosexuality directly affects sexual repoduction, so it seems curious to me it was carried over for such a long time, IF it _caused_ by a gene or by a precise combination of occurring genes.
posted by elpapacito at 6:32 PM on December 31, 2006


Elpapacito: Think bees. They all have roles, but not all of them breed. Happens all the time.
posted by Sparx at 6:42 PM on December 31, 2006


Homosexuality directly affects sexual repoduction, so it seems curious to me it was carried over for such a long time, IF it _caused_ by a gene or by a precise combination of occurring genes.

According to Matt Ridley in his book Genome (2000), p. 159, the real conundrum is why nature (read: females) would favor those with an abundance of hormones, such as the better birdsong or longer tail or more aggressiveness, which also weakens the immune system.
posted by Brian B. at 6:44 PM on December 31, 2006


Homosexuality directly affects sexual repoduction, so it seems curious to me it was carried over for such a long time, IF it _caused_ by a gene or by a precise combination of occurring genes.

Well, that's only if you take a very simple-minded approach to what constitutes a trait that has a benevolent effect on the survival of the species as a whole. Luckily, Mother Nature is craftier than that.

If I could I would have a pleasing, if moody female wife as an everyday companion coupled with a rewarding variety of intense and affectionate male friendships that would not be strained by libidinal forces and the onerous baggage of homosexuality as a lifestyle and a label and all the false expectations that accompany it. But that's me.

There's no reason why you couldn't substitute the word "husband" for the word "wife" in that sentence. And, in fact, you can have that. Everyone struggles with libidinal forces affecting their friendships -- it's hardly strictly a gay problem. I know plenty of straight men who wish they could have deeper friendships with women without sexual questions troubling the waters. In fact, what many of them tell me is that their friendships with women got a lot easier -- and even more flirtatious, in a harmless exchange of eros -- after they got married, because the women felt comfortable letting down their guard.
posted by digaman at 6:45 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Homosexuality directly affects sexual repoduction, so it seems curious to me it was carried over for such a long time, IF it _caused_ by a gene or by a precise combination of occurring genes.

It's not "a" gene, and the whole "are you gay or straight, please tick one" assumptions people have about sexuality is confusing the issue. My current preferred theory is that homosexual attraction (and a lot of genetic components of personality, including the stereotypical behaviors bukharin described) is inherited from one's cross-gender parent; ie, you get male-attraction from your mother, female-attraction from your father; your hormonal balance acts on these components to produce your base sexual profile, and your life experiences reinforce (sexual pleasure is a strong reinforcer) the habits you thus form.

This would imply, though, that the male children of mostly-homosexual males and mostly heterosexual females are likely to be homosexual. Also, it would imply that the children of mostly-homosexual males and mostly-homosexual females (the classic gay sperm donor to lesbian couple cliche) would be as likely as anyone else to be heterosexual or homosexual. There's not much human data, and it's hard to assess the sexual preferences of mice (for example) to conduct generational breeding experiments. Another three or four generations and we might have more idea what goes on in humans.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:46 PM on December 31, 2006


"medical ethicists are not, by and large, libertarians, and thus your chosen political flavour is irrelevant to this discussion."

i don't see where your conclusion follows from your premise. if most medical ethicists were, e.g., democrats and i approached the issue as a democrat, would my chosen political flavor be more relevant to the discussion than it is now? do you have any source authority for political distribution in the medical ethics field? finally, other than being well read on medical issues and having an opinion, what else goes into the making of a medical ethicist; can you point me to an objective metric by which you're any more ethical than i am?
posted by bruce at 6:50 PM on December 31, 2006


i find it dangerous and immoral for a pregnant woman who wants to bear a child to be a guinea pig for the tests of this, which would have to happen. Do i really need to say it again?

You do realize you just seated yourself firmly atop a major fence here?

Morally it's not ok to raise testosterone levels - but it is ok to reduce testosterone levels - to zero, by removing the fetus from its mothers body...? Huh?

Morality either bears on what a woman may do with her body parts or it doesn't. Which is it?

A fetus is either a human being with rights beyond those of its mothers or it's a body part and no business of yours. Quick, pick one or the other...
posted by scheptech at 6:53 PM on December 31, 2006


Is there any word on the vaccine that makes sure a fetus won't like chocolate? I really like vanilla and I don't want to have to argue with my kids over ice cream, or be embarrassed when they flaunt their chocolate eating lifestyles all over my nice family oriented vanilla-loving neighborhood.

Additionally, I would like a vaccine against rational thought. Oh wait, they made that already.
posted by illovich at 6:54 PM on December 31, 2006


Interesting comparison, but quoting from Wikipedia on Queen Bee

She lays her own weight in eggs every couple of hours and is continuously surrounded by young worker attendants, who meet her every need, giving her feed and disposing of her waste. They also lick her body for the pheromones called queen substance, that is needed to stop worker bees from laying eggs of their own.

But here is a link to the whole article which is quite fascinating.

Probably I am thinking too much about the effects of maximization of quantity reproduced over quality reproduced, and not considering that a trait may just be casually carried over because of a combination of factors, some of which may not make sense in a maximization scheme.

There's not much human data, and it's hard to assess the sexual preferences of mice (for example) to conduct generational breeding experiments.

Maybe bisexuality is just a benevolent behavior ; as pleasure acts as a positive reinforcer for behavior, it may be seeked regardless of gender for pleasure sake , yet the choice of pleasure from a male wouldn't overrule pleasure from a female, making reproduction still possible.
posted by elpapacito at 6:57 PM on December 31, 2006


A fetus is either a human being with rights beyond those of its mothers or it's a body part and no business of yours. Quick, pick one or the other...
I think that's called a false dichotomy.

Fetus is too general a term to give a fair answer in that context, as a pre-natal mammal that is past the embryonic stage (from the ninth week of development on in humans).

My general feeling is, until it can survive on it's own (some intervention allowed), it's not really a person yet. So while I'll take "it's a person" for a fetus in the 7th month of a pregnancy, it's really stretching it to call a 10 week old fetus a "person."

Additionally your argument conflates two issues which are not actually similar.

The first issue is whether or not a fetus has rights, and more specifically if a pregnant woman has the right to terminate the pregnancy. I think this is a healthy debate, and I'm glad that it occurs -- even if I think there isn't an ethical problem with abortion (I take a fairly similar view to Peter Singer on this issue).

The second issue is whether or not a pregnant woman has the right to take a drug that alters the development of a fetus in hopes of influencing it's sexual preferences. I think it is difficult to say that there is an intrinsic value to homosexuality (I am speaking only of the existence of same-sex preference -- it goes without saying that homosexuals have the same intrinsic value as all humans), so a theoretical drug that would only eliminate same-sex preference and have no other effect on the eventual person would not necessarily be problematic.

The problem is that it is both unlikely that there will be no other effect on the development of the fetus, and this is compounded by the reality that there would be no way to find out what the other effects were without testing the vaccine on the very humans the anti-abortion movement is so worried about.

As a hypothetical, what if the vaccine makes people straight, but 60% more likely to be pedophiles? What if it also confers greater predisposition to other diseases?

Of course, the most beautiful irony would be if the vaccine ensured homosexuality in whatever baby it was given to. But unfortunately it would probably be something bad for the people who received it, like increased risk of cancers or other disorders -- not something as harmless as a sexual preference one way or the other.
posted by illovich at 7:22 PM on December 31, 2006


"I'm gay, and frankly if the vaccine cures my brethren of that crass vanity, the affected, grating tenor, the vicious sniping and the unrestrained, poisonous approach to sexuality and other forms of consumption, and all the other sickening traits of their willing conformity with a mass sexual stereotype that is just as tasteless and hegemonic as the heterosexual one that previous generations fought heroically to overturn, then at this point I can only welcome it. If I could I would have a pleasing, if moody female wife as an everyday companion coupled with a rewarding variety of intense and affectionate male friendships that would not be strained by libidinal forces and the onerous baggage of homosexuality as a lifestyle and a label and all the false expectations that accompany it."

Are you Jewish, too?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:24 PM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


talk about missing the point. talk of gay sheep is insane.
posted by quonsar

I thought homosexuality in animals was an accepted fact, no?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:24 PM on December 31, 2006




Medical experimentation on people who cannot give consent, or experimentation that is deceptive (the subjects would not consent if they were fully aware of the nature of the experiment), is widely viewed as unethical. It doesn't matter whether the experiment would ultimately benefit the subjects (or people at large).

Item: the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

This vaccine isn't going to happen anytime soon. If it does, it will be a shady experiment under right-wing Christian auspices (Christian doctor, hospital, etc.). The scandal, when it breaks, would be immense.

I see the abortion analogy as a red herring, since the death of the embryo or fetus in the first trimester (I am not in favor of later abortions) is frequently a natural occurrence (miscarriage). The "gay vaccine" would be blatantly unnatural, and its effects on development would be unknown. It's as unethical as creating human clone infants (not just early embryos for stem cells).
posted by bad grammar at 7:33 PM on December 31, 2006


I see the abortion analogy as a red herring, since the death of the embryo or fetus in the first trimester (I am not in favor of later abortions) is frequently a natural occurrence (miscarriage). The "gay vaccine" would be blatantly unnatural

does that mean that one can only use organic plant materials to induce abortions as any other method would be "unnatural"? ... or that births must happen outdoors because buildings are "unnatural"?

natural vs unnatural is not a good argument
posted by pyramid termite at 7:47 PM on December 31, 2006


If this research pans out, and the HomoNoMo Patch is developed, we know many will want to use it. So let's focus on the cosmo glass being half-full in such a post-gay world. Any (straight) little girl might actually have a chance to be a pro golfer. Young boys who like girls might dare to dream of becoming figure skaters ... or priests.

Oh, wait.
posted by rob511 at 8:05 PM on December 31, 2006


Gee, I've always been skeptical about the LGBT community's decision to embrace "born this way" as the driving rationale for rights given the 20th century history of medical attempts to cure homosexuality.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:06 PM on December 31, 2006


Well maybe it is growing because we are paying more attention, that doesn't imply the behavior is becoming more common. Indeed I agree there could be traits carried over that aren't that much detrimental and so aren't "deleted" as quickly.

yep, sorry, I wasn't clear. The behavior isn't becoming more common but certainly there are plenty of species who aren't dieing off because of the existence of homosexuality. Theoretically non-reproductive preference could kill off a species if some large majority of offspring had it, i.e. if it interfered in a major way with the species' ability to create the next generation. It's all about the numbers.
posted by sineater at 8:11 PM on December 31, 2006


Is the fetus human, deserving of protection under the law, or not?

Not according to the Fourteenth Amendment.
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:22 PM on December 31, 2006


How far can it be to go from a cartoon rabbit to sex with a man?

6 beers.
posted by quonsar at 8:28 PM on December 31, 2006


Is the fetus human, deserving of protection under the law, or not?

Not according to the Fourteenth Amendment.


Apples and oranges. First, the question asks whether a fetus deserves legal protection, not whether it currently has it. Second, the Fourteenth Amendment provides only a floor below which a state cannot restrict freedoms for the identified classes. A state is free to protect additional freedoms or additional classes.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:31 PM on December 31, 2006


it's too bad everyone couldn't just be bi.
posted by wumpus at 8:31 PM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


No hurry to find a vaccine for ignorance, I presume ....
posted by Twang at 8:33 PM on December 31, 2006


@buckharin
"the vicious sniping ... and all the other sickening traits of their willing conformity with a mass sexual stereotype that is just as tasteless and hegemonic"

Well, Mr. I-Caught-It-Too, may *you* have a mirror moment.
posted by Twang at 8:40 PM on December 31, 2006


Isn't it highly unlikely that U.S. insurance companies would pay for this?
posted by gimonca at 8:49 PM on December 31, 2006


I thought homosexuality in animals was an accepted fact, no?

right. and colorblindness in bicycles.
posted by quonsar at 8:50 PM on December 31, 2006


Well, that's only if you take a very simple-minded approach to what constitutes a trait that has a benevolent effect on the survival of the species as a whole. Luckily, Mother Nature is craftier than that.

The argument that "homosexuality is beneficial to a society and therefore genetic predispositions to homosexuality were somehow selected for" is not a good one.

Such an argument may or may not be true, but cannot be scientifically verified, and just represents pure conjecture. It's use in any discussion usually reveals more about the individual making the argument than shedding any real light on the issue. Consider, for example, that one could make comparisons to the persistence of disease traits throughout the population with just as much validity. Or somebody could compare genetic predispositions to homosexuality to genetic predispositions to obesity: ie something that was selected for in the past, but is now considered undesirable.

None of these arguments is valid. But if you pick one and back it, then you are pushing an agenda, and essentially validating the use of the counter-arguments by people with different agendas.

Homosexuality is a trait. Some people have it, some people don't (and there's likely an entire spectrum in between). But to refer to it as a good trait or a bad trait is just bullshit.
posted by kisch mokusch at 9:00 PM on December 31, 2006


I would like to argue against the idea that a pro-choice person would necessarily have to support the use of a gay vaccine. Here's my reasoning:

It is possible to believe that a fetus is non-sapient and thus not deserving of legal protection. However, if a fetus is allowed to mature, it does become a person. Thus, altering a fetus is non-lethal but undesirable ways (as can happen with drug abuse and alcoholism and potentially in the future via unwanted biological engineering) will harm a person who will come to exist in the future.

Think of it as laying a land mine set to kill a person not yet conceived; even though the biological ingredients of that person are totally undeserving of protection at the time, it is not right for you to intentionally or negligently set up a situation that will harm them in the future.

Whether this sort of thing constitutes harm is of course a totally different argument.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:03 PM on December 31, 2006


Happy 07 all! May it be a better year.

So, again, is all human medical testing on pregnant women and young children out? Or is there something uniquely dangerous about the wholly hypothetical "gay vaccine"?
It depends what's being tested and why and how and what the risks are. But i would say without a doubt that testing on anyone without explicit consent and full understanding of all risks now--and in the future (i.e., for the full future life of the child)--is absolutely out of the question and wrong.

You do realize you just seated yourself firmly atop a major fence here?
Morally it's not ok to raise testosterone levels - but it is ok to reduce testosterone levels - to zero, by removing the fetus from its mothers body...? Huh?
Morality either bears on what a woman may do with her body parts or it doesn't. Which is it?
A fetus is either a human being with rights beyond those of its mothers or it's a body part and no business of yours. Quick, pick one or the other...

Nope--the rules change if and when a woman decides to carry a fetus to term. Just as the rules change as we move into different places in our lives and into different roles. A woman may do what she wants when pregnant---keep it or not. If she has decided to bear a child, she has different and additional responsibilities, and some of those involve that future child's health and safety, and what she must do to protect that future child.

Think of thalidomide (it's because of what happened that we even have laws about this) --Unfortunately, inadequate tests were performed to assess the drug's safety, with catastrophic results for the children of women who had taken thalidomide during their pregnancies.
From 1956 to 1962, approximately 10,000 children were born with severe malformities, including phocomelia, because their mothers had taken thalidomide during pregnancy.[1] In 1962, in reaction to the tragedy, the United States Congress enacted laws requiring tests for safety during pregnancy before a drug can receive approval for sale in the U.S.

posted by amberglow at 9:47 PM on December 31, 2006


Think of it as laying a land mine set to kill a person not yet conceived

But that's not what is being considered here. This would be happening well *after* conception.

even though the biological ingredients of that person are totally undeserving of protection at the time, it is not right for you to intentionally or negligently set up a situation that will harm them in the future.

Forget the future. How about if I harm it right now with an abortion? Deliberately. On purpose. Does that make you feel better or worse?

I would like to argue against the idea that a pro-choice person would necessarily have to support the use of a gay vaccine.

It's not that someone "has" to support anything, but that one is driven toward cognitive dissonance ("the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time") when considering certain ramifications of in-utero therapies, medications, etc.

* A person may be pro-choice, arguing that a fetus is not yet "alive" and can be aborted without any moral qualms.
* This same person may find abhorrent the idea of an embryo/fetus being chemically or biologically altered in order to meet the desires of the parents.

So, the cognitive dissonance here is ... why is an abortion OK in certain situations but a (theoretically safe) chemical alteration abhorrent in all situations? And if chemical alterations are abhorrent, what's next? Putting women on house arrest for ... pre-natal vitamins?

Pro-choice? Or no-choice? Make you ... gay? Make you ... straight? Make you ... dead?

When does life begin, exactly?

There are no winners here.
posted by frogan at 10:01 PM on December 31, 2006


But i would say without a doubt that testing on anyone without explicit consent and full understanding of all risks now

it's commonly accepted in law that parents can act to decide this for minor or unborn children even though they can't give explicit consent

Nope--the rules change if and when a woman decides to carry a fetus to term.

but doesn't "if and when" suggest that there may be certain conditions on her deciding to carry a fetus to term? ... or that she may decide to do so only if she's allowed to take certain other steps, too?

if she has decided to bear a child, she has different and additional responsibilities, and some of those involve that future child's health and safety, and what she must do to protect that future child.

unless there's actually unintended consequences or side effects, how does choosing straightness for a child damage its health and safety or fail to protect it?

i do think this is pretty creepy, but what i'm not hearing here is a rationale for banning this on principle
posted by pyramid termite at 10:05 PM on December 31, 2006


i've never called for banning it--i'm saying why i find it dangerous and immoral.
posted by amberglow at 10:11 PM on December 31, 2006


* Pro-choice = a woman can choose to do what she likes to her body, fetus be damned = no moral grounds to stop her from using an anti-gay patch.
* Pro-choice + a stance against a anti-homosexuality patch = you're OK with killing the fetus, but not drugging it.


* Pro-life = A woman has no rights to decide what to do with her baby. She is a breeding box for potential new Christians, messing with God's Will is just plain wrong.
*Pro-life + a stance for an anti-homosexuality patch = you're OK with messing with God's Will and the female breeding boxes.

Oh, you see what I did there, jackass?

Well, now that we're done playing sophomoric semantic games, this research is on animals at an ag school. What they're trying to do is see if they can create more productive animals. This is because AMERICA WANTS MEAT! *chomp chomp*
I find it ridiculous to presume that this would be applied to humans. If someone seriously proposed it, it would be shot down in a heartbeat. Not to mention that modifying humans in that way is already illegal in this country, and has been for a very long time.
posted by eparchos at 10:39 PM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


A bit of unintentional humor from Martina: "Surely you can find a way to redirect the millions of public tax dollars ... to a more fruitful venture"
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:49 PM on December 31, 2006


I thought homosexuality in animals was an accepted fact, no?

quonsar: right. and colorblindness in bicycles.

What's that you say, quonsar? Homosexuality doesn't exist in the animal kingdom?
posted by mijuta at 11:04 PM on December 31, 2006


go back and read my initial comment mijuta. pointing out that numerous sources make the same ludicrous assertion does not make it less ludicrous to me. an animal is a dumb beast. the anthropomorphism taking place fulfills the agendas of those engaging in it. if a dog humps a table leg is it a furnisexual dog? give me a break.
posted by quonsar at 11:13 PM on December 31, 2006


You can find animals that will do just about anything.
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:16 PM on December 31, 2006


if a bicycle reacts identically to red, green and yellow light is it colorblind?
posted by quonsar at 11:17 PM on December 31, 2006


quonsar:

You don't know what "behaviour" is, do you? It doesn't MATTER whether animals or humans or whatever-we're-looking-at is a "dumb beast" or not... homosexuality is a behaviour.

I can't believe I just had to explain that.
posted by eparchos at 11:22 PM on December 31, 2006



I don't know why people want to believe that they are nothing more then instinct controlled animals...


Sorry, but the world doesn't always match what we "want" to believe, kitten. It's called "science" and "being rational". Want to meet a friendly razor? He's from Occam!
posted by eparchos at 11:26 PM on December 31, 2006


This is kind of an inevitable result of the push from the gay rights movement to classify homosexuality is a result of genetics. I'm kinda surprised they didn't see it coming.

Of course, it won't work. Or rather, it won't be 100% effective. Like any other behavior, homosexuality has roots in both biology and environment. Even if they really were able to eliminate the "gay gene" (assuming there's a single gene that's responsible), there will still be people who find themselves attracted to the same sex.

Actually, I'm kinda looking forward to the inevitable lawsuit from a mother who takes this "cure" and her kid turns out gay anyhow.
posted by Target Practice at 11:54 PM on December 31, 2006


Oh, you see what I did there, jackass?

You came late to the thread and then missed the entire point?

Shut up, kid. The adults are speaking.
posted by frogan at 1:00 AM on January 1, 2007


Heh, this is hilarious. They have a potential anti-gay vaccine, but there's no homicidal tendencies vaccine, or cerebal palsy/down's syndrome/schizophrenia/alzheimer's/etc vaccine, or a cancer/HIV/AIDS/etc. vaccine.

The United States of America: Our Priorities Aren't Straight because Our Population Isn't Either.
posted by Verdandi at 2:32 AM on January 1, 2007


Nope--the rules change if and when a woman decides to carry a fetus to term.

On the face of it this makes no sense for a pro-choice position based on "a womans right to choose what to do with her own body". Rules? Says who? Who decides that?

If she has decided to bear a child, she has different and additional responsibilities, and some of those involve that future child's health and safety, and what she must do to protect that future child.


Once pregnant you don't decide to bear a child, you can only to decide to not bear it. Anyway, this is ignoring the elephant in the room. We'll remove her choice of testosterone levels out of concern for health and safety but set safety entirely aside and ignore a rather more significant health effect if she decides to kill it outright.
posted by scheptech at 2:37 AM on January 1, 2007


Why can't we all just drop everything and fuck?
posted by tehloki at 2:39 AM on January 1, 2007


Shut up, kid. The adults are speaking.

Ad hominem? Is that you?
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 3:30 AM on January 1, 2007


You came late to the thread and then missed the entire point?
Shut up, kid. The adults are speaking.


And what exactly ar they saying? Sit down, son, sorry I was sleeping when the thread was posted.
posted by eparchos at 3:59 AM on January 1, 2007


Occam's razor is neither rational nor science. It's a deliberate leap of faith that assumes nature follows some human asthetic.
posted by klarck at 4:46 AM on January 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Occam's razor is neither rational nor science. It's a deliberate leap of faith that assumes nature follows some human asthetic.

Define "rational" and "science", please. As a scientist, I would LOVE to hear your "faith-based" definitions..... While you're at it, define "faith".
posted by eparchos at 5:10 AM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was assuming the definitions of rational and science you used above. As for faith, how about we call it an unrational, unscientific assumption of truth. Kind of like the unsupported assumption that nature is always best described by what some individual deems the simplest explanation. (Perhaps as a scientist, you can give the scientifcalistic, objective definition of simple without straying into an asthetic realm.)

Occam's razor isn't science; it's religion. Are you sure you're a scientist?
posted by klarck at 5:55 AM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't define "science" or "rational". I assumed there was a pre-existing understanding of those terms. However, since you challenge Occam's Razor, which is well-estasblished (at least in the branch of science I work in) I presume you have a different definition of one or both of those terms than I do.
As far as "simple", that is easily defined as "The least complex". Or, if you prefer, the fewest number of steps with the least number of assumptions. In a word, it's what we call "elegance".
And yes, I'm sure that I'm a scientist.
Now that I've stated my terms, out of the kindness of my heart, please do explain to everybody else how the Principle of Parsimony is "not science". More importantly, explain how it is "religion".
Oh, BTW, "unrational" is not a word. I think you are searching for "nonrational". Also, "scientifcalistic" is not a word. I think you are groping towards "scientific". Oh, might I add that "asthetic" isn't a word, although I understand you to mean "aesthetic".
posted by eparchos at 6:14 AM on January 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bugs or Jessica?

Actually, it was a rabbit from a Cadbury's Caramel chocolate commercial.

He assures me -- now that the testosterone has worn off -- that it was a female rabbit though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:42 AM on January 1, 2007


I didn't define "science" or "rational". I assumed there was a pre-existing understanding of those terms.

then why ask for a definition?

actually, i'm more curious as to why you referred to occam's razor in reply to kitten's question ... or, excuse me, kolophon's question

Now that I've stated my terms, out of the kindness of my heart, please do explain to everybody else how the Principle of Parsimony is "not science".

myself, i'd prefer to call it a philosophy of science

More importantly, explain how it is "religion".

it was written by a monk in a monastery, you know ... from the wikipedia article - He formulates it as: “For nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident (literally, known through itself) or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.” For Ockham, the only truly necessary entity is God; everything else is contingent.

so in its original context and intent, it was a religious statement, or at least one in which religious thought was a consideration
posted by pyramid termite at 6:53 AM on January 1, 2007


tehloki: "Why can't we all just drop everything and fuck?"

Fist fuck?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:00 AM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, BTW, "unrational" is not a word. I think you are searching for "nonrational". Also, "scientifcalistic" is not a word. I think you are groping towards "scientific". Oh, might I add that "asthetic" isn't a word, although I understand you to mean "aesthetic".

heh. klarck got under your scientificalistic derma, eh?
posted by quonsar at 9:42 AM on January 1, 2007


I'll get all excited about this when somebody actually proposes using the techniques in humans. We breed out all sorts of "undesirable" traits from plants and animals, and have done so for ages.

Despite this, only a few nutcases have seriously suggesting doing the same in humans.

And as for the morons who keep on claiming that it would be logically impossible to be pro-choice re: abortion, and anti-choice re: homosexual patches, get over it. The logic is easy (that children should not be accepted/rejected because of discriminatory factors.)

Political discussions in America are depressing because of people like eustacescrubb who take more joy in creating controversy than they do in intellectual discussion.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:43 AM on January 1, 2007


If I understand correctly, the decision in Roe was made by balancing the rights of an unborn fetus against the rights of its mother, based on judgements of the personhood of each under the law. It was decided that up until a point, it was more in the state's interest to protect the rights of the mother to not bear a child than to protect the fetus' right to be born, and after a point the state had an interest in protecting the fetus as a potential citizen over and above the mother's right not to bear it. Saying that people who are pro-choice don't think a fetus is a human, and thus it's acceptable to treat them as an inanimate object, seems to be missing the point. The law treats this as a balancing of rights based on a sliding scale of personhood, not as the rights of a human vs. the rights of tissue.

What this means for pre-natal genetic manipulation, in my view, is that the issue is not in fact if a mother has the right to effect any change or no change on a fetus; the choice here would be between a mother's right to choose the genetic traits of her child and the child's right to have a genetic identity unaltered by scientific manipulation. Those are the two sides of the scale.

As for where I stand on the "gay vaccine"? Pre-natal genetic manipulation scares me. Children don't have nearly enough control over their own bodies and destinies, and I think that their rights to self-determination should trump their parents' desire not to be challenged or made uncomfortable by their identities.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 9:51 AM on January 1, 2007


it was written by a monk in a monastery, you know ... from the wikipedia article - He formulates it as: “For nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident (literally, known through itself) or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.” For Ockham, the only truly necessary entity is God; everything else is contingent.

in response to

myself, i'd prefer to call it a philosophy of science

sorry, but the world doesn't always match what we "want" to believe, kitten.

*wanders off, chuckling*
posted by quonsar at 9:55 AM on January 1, 2007


"Political discussions in America are depressinghilarious because of people like eustacescrubb who take more joy in creating controversy than they do in intellectual discussiontweaking the oh-so-precious beliefs of the rigid dogmatists on either side."

Fixed that for you.

sorry, but the world doesn't always match what we "want" to believe, kitten.
*wanders off, chuckling*


Watch your back, I heard on the radio that packs of feral bicycles are roaming the neighborhood.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:20 AM on January 1, 2007


Alvy: Your definition of hilarious varies greatly from mine.

Personally, I think the world would be significantly better if people who disagreed could discuss things with each other, to recognize that things are not always black and white, and help find middle ground.

Sadly, some people (like you) would rather laugh at the division and decay of communication, and help speed that decay, than attempt to reconcile anything.

You are fundamentally anti-progress, anti-civility, and anti-society. You are a fine example of a person who whose life will never matter to others.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:27 AM on January 1, 2007


P.S. Thank you for the reminder as to why it is best to avoid internet discussions anywhere near controversy at all.

Too many anti-social assholes who are incapable of either putting together a coherent thought, or accepting that others might have something to offer.

Now please die.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:29 AM on January 1, 2007


I heard on the radio that packs of feral bicycles are roaming the neighborhood.

it's worse than that - they're feral colorblind bicyclefish which prefer mounting overstuffed sofas. and they've invaded my pants.
posted by quonsar at 10:46 AM on January 1, 2007


Political discussions in America are depressing because of people like eustacescrubb who take more joy in creating controversy than they do in intellectual discussion.

Really? I'd say they're depressing because people automatically jump to assuming bad motives or stupidity on the part of their interlocuters, kinda like what you've done since entering this thread. You jump into a thread and call people "morons" and then wonder why political discussions don't go well?

My initial post was a joke, and I didn't expect it to be taken seriously. I like to think that liberal types, myself included, can laugh at themselves. I was (and am) genuinely surprised that, for the most part, folks have found my joke to be a stumbling block -- I fuly expected amberglow, for example, to have a more coherent framework than he's been able to articulate thus far.
I had lost all hope, actually, until CtrlAltDelete's comment, which is nearly compelling, except that I don't think that a lot of the most vocal pro-choice voices actualy consider the fetus a person at all, instead of (as Roe v Wade does) a person whose legal rights are second to that of the mother's.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:48 AM on January 1, 2007


Damn, and we were so close to having a dialogue!

I'm all for civility, progress, and society, just like you are - well, without the insults, personal assumptions and requests that people I disagree with die.

On any side of a argument, the majority of the talking is done by the intransigent debaters, the vociferous disciples of "A is right!" "No, B is right!". Sadly, and I'm sure you'll agree, those die hards at either end of the spectrum who monopolize the conversation, making it poorer for all involved.

That's why I like it when someone like eustacescrubb tweaks the noses of the faithful (On either side - I don't care if it's left or right, Dem or GOP, fundy or militant atheist) with a lil bit of light hearted ribbing. It can lead to one reappraising their own values and beliefs, which is healthier and more productive than just telling the jerk across the table that their own are wrong-wrong-wrong.
And I get a chuckle out of it.


Also: It's pretty dang funny to see someone who's fucked around with this community and gotten the boot a couple of times expound on respectful conduct.
Hilarious, even.
Will dhoyt return in next week's episode of Hypocrite Chat to teach us all the importance of just being ourselves?

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:03 AM on January 1, 2007


Alvy Ampersand, I don't think you "fixed" TAPG's post as much as you inverted it. I don't see any evidence that eustacescrubb was having fun tweaking dogmatists in general; rather, eustacescrubb was only tweaking pro-choice dogmatists. But then, it's clear that eustacescrubb doesn't actually understand the complex spectrum of beliefs that are comprised by the "pro-choice" position.

Pro-choice means only that one is in favor of a legal right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term. It is not a dogmatic position by definition, though of course some pro-choice activists are dogmatic. I myself know few (if any) pro-choice women who actually truck with the "a woman ought to be able to abort her fetus right up until the moment of birth" strawman that the radical right would have us believe most pro-choice voters believe.

My personal belief in the right to choose is based on the fact that, too often, a woman did not have an equal say in whether or not she became pregnant in the first place, for a variety of reasons, but then is the only party who is asked to devote her body to nine months of indentured service to a fetus without complaint. The ramifications of birth control not being used properly or not being available or of failing for other reasons still affect the woman far more than they affect the man.

The day they can keep a fetus alive in the hospital without a woman's womb around it is the day my support for legalized abortion ends -- as long as the government steps up to the plate and pays for nine months of prenatal hospital care for the fetus, and finds a suitable home for it once it's old enough to be adopted.

And I just realized I've only responded to posters, not to the original post. On the subject of an anti-gay vaccine, as others have said I doubt it is even possible to eradicate the future homosexual population entirely, for a variety of reasons that others have already listed. But if this becomes possible, I hope most of us are brave enough not to even consider it.

In this field as in so many others -- cloning, for example -- it's a real shame that the ethics of the science haven't yet caught up with the techniques, and that gap appears to be widening.
posted by jenii at 11:13 AM on January 1, 2007


But then, it's clear that eustacescrubb doesn't actually understand the complex spectrum of beliefs that are comprised by the "pro-choice" position.

Or, maybe, I was joking, and then, later, surprised when the "complex spectrum of beliefs" didn't surface until very late in the thread.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:17 AM on January 1, 2007


Wow. If you were joking, I totally missed it.
posted by jenii at 11:26 AM on January 1, 2007


an animal is a dumb beast. the anthropomorphism taking place fulfills the agendas of those engaging in it. if a dog humps a table leg is it a furnisexual dog? give me a break.

so are you asserting that animals don't even have intelligence? please. animal intelligence is a scientific fact, it has nothing to do with anthropomorphism. it seems your issue is more with labeling animal activity "homosexual" or "heterosexual." it's fine if you want to strip away these socially constructed identifiers, but the fact still remains that animal studies have recorded widespread same-sex sexual activity and same-sex pairing.

also, your analogy with animals and bicyles isn't working at all--a bicycle is an inanimate object. try using something that has a brain and sexual organs.
posted by mijuta at 11:31 AM on January 1, 2007


Pro-choice means only that one is in favor of a legal right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term. It is not a dogmatic position by definition, though of course some pro-choice activists are dogmatic. I myself know few (if any) pro-choice women who actually truck with the "a woman ought to be able to abort her fetus right up until the moment of birth" strawman that the radical right would have us believe most pro-choice voters believe.

It may mean that to you, jenil, but that legal right doesn't exist in a vacuum. A right exists (as Roe v Wade points out) only as against rights denied to other entities, and so affirming a right for entity A to do something also denies the right of entity B to do (or not do, as the case may be) something. So, for example, the right not to be spied upon exists only because some other entity (the goverment, let's say) doesn't have the right to spy on you.

All of that is just to say that while you can say "pro choice only means one is in favor of legal right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term" but it also means, therefore, that one is also not in favor of protecting whatever rights the fetus may have to be alive. The pro-choice movement (in general) justifies denying the fetus rights to be alive on the grounds that it isn't a full human being yet, and that its potential as a human being doesn't outweigh the rights of the mother to privacy and choice. If those reasons are genuine beliefs, then a logically consistent moral framework either has to come up with a wholly different reason for protecting some other rights of this non-human (like the right not to be experimented upon) because one, having already denied the entity's humanity, cannot argue that the right not to be experimented upon derives from it human-ness -- human diginity or freedom. Hence amberglow's attempt to define the procedure (without having seen it) as "dangerous" (presumably to the mother).

but then is the only party who is asked to devote her body to nine months of indentured service to a fetus without complaint.

This is kind of a tangent, but I have yet to meet a pregnant lady who doesn't complain, and yet to meet a partner of a pregnant lady who denies her the right to complain. And, you're relying on emotinally-charged phrasing ("indentured service") instead of reason to make your point -- not that I necessarily disagree with you, but if this is suposed to be representative of a "complex spectrum of belief", it isn't (as phrased in your post) very complex or compelling.

To put it another way, even though I usually vote for pro-choice candidates, I find this sort of thinking often in pro-choice reaosning, and it's a huge turn-off. The view of the world that unergirds it is highly individualistic, and it flattens human relationhsips the same way calculating the monetary value of trees flattens a forest.
I have never met a mother who carried her child to term because she felt obligated or indentured. To be sure, there probably are some, but even the most reluctant mothers I have known don't have that attitude. What motivates them is something else altogether, and not surprisingly, if they are fortunate enough to be in healthy relationships with a significant other (of either gender) that same motivation exists between the partners toward each other and toward the child. It is, in one way, highly offensive to me that you would characterize what motivated my wife to do the difficult work of bearing children as "indentured servitude."

Now I agree that forcing women to carry and bear children they don't want is a Bad Thing in most cases, but I can't get behind a lot of the more radical rhetoric of pro-choice arguments, like describing pregnancy as "indentured servitude." I would call the motivation behind it "love" in almost all the cases I've personally witnessed.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:37 AM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. If you were joking, I totally missed it

Even though my second comment in the thread begins with "I was mostly going for a laugh"?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:40 AM on January 1, 2007


jenii, I "fixed" TAPG's comment in that I felt the original was humourless, priggishly rude, and laid the blame for America's cultural and political factions being at an impasse at the feet people who make jokes.
Yeah, it's not corruption, business interests, or partisan bullshit on either side that's fucking up America, it's those rotten jokesters! Grr!

Like I said, I enjoy seeing dogmatists of any stripe being tweaked - in this case it was the extreme end of pro choice. Is it now neccessary to devote equal time and effort making fun of the "other side" to prevent being labeled as radical right strawman-perpetuating nogoodniks? Bunk.
ES described himself as being a "fellow liberal" in his comment, and I myself am a left-leaning Canadian, if that's the shibboleth you need...

... on preview, this comment is more redundant than usual (Even by my standards), but hey, in for a penny and all that.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:48 AM on January 1, 2007


Yeah, it's not corruption, business interests, or partisan bullshit on either side that's fucking up America, it's those rotten jokesters!

You specifically noted that you enjoy partisan bullshit

Now you claim that it's fucking up America.

Umm... LOL?
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 12:19 PM on January 1, 2007


And as for the morons who keep on claiming that it would be logically impossible to be pro-choice re: abortion, and anti-choice re: homosexual patches, get over it. The logic is easy (that children should not be accepted/rejected because of discriminatory factors.)

except that 1) according to a common pro-choice definition, fetuses are not children

2) that abortion in itself is a rejection of the fetus

3) that many pro-choice people would regard a state inquiry into the reasons a woman is having an abortion to be unacceptable ... ("is your intent discriminatory?")

4) with this gay vaccine thingy, the children would not be accepted/rejected but changed

5) if a woman is refused that choice to use this technology, she's still got the choice to abort the fetus

6) it's not wise to call people morons if you're the one who's uncomprehending
posted by pyramid termite at 12:36 PM on January 1, 2007


You specifically noted that you enjoy partisan bullshit

I'm sorry, where?

Recognizing the absurdity of a country being torn apart because everyone is Right, Dammit! and laughing because it's less painful than crying is hardly an endorsement of destructive factionalism.

Good zing though, I Love Tacos. Ya got me good, ouch.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:39 PM on January 1, 2007


A right exists (as Roe v Wade points out) only as against rights denied to other entities, and so affirming a right for entity A to do something also denies the right of entity B to do (or not do, as the case may be) something.


This is an equivocation, a fallacy of ambiguity. Civil rights never contradict because they are equal and universal. You were using the concept of privilege in the latter point, but describing it as a right. For example, the right to vote is not denying anyone the right to be monarch, or we must first assume that being a monarch is a right (and not the self-serving privilege it was assumed to be in order to establish voting as a civil right in the first place).

Consider that the right of the mother's privacy and the right to have children does not contradict the right to life, because the mother must give it life as her right (excluding debates on what rights the father has). The idea that an unborn child supersedes the rights of a mother usurps the concept of civil rights entirely. The mother becomes a slave vessel for someone else's decreed subjects.
posted by Brian B. at 1:17 PM on January 1, 2007


mdn, I was asking amberglow, but thanks for the reply anyhow. I'm curious -- are you pro-choice? If you are, then feel free to answer: how can a pro-choice person see one fetus (one destined to be aborted) as not deserving of protection from harm, while seeing another (one destined to be un-gayed) as deserving of it? Either the fetus's future status as a person ought to be considered or it oughtn't, yes?

you seem to be ignoring the comments I already made... in response to your question, no. It is not a simple yes/no issue. It is an if/then issue. If you choose to have a child, you have to treat it as a person rather than as a product. If you do not choose to have the child, you have no obligation to it. Here's an analogy: if you buy a device, you can do what you want to it - you can destroy it if you like. But if you don't buy it, it is not within your rights to alter it. That is, the rules can change depending on your relation to the thing.

Now, of course, it is a different relation between people and objects, and people and people. We generally don't recognize the right to alter people, and when you choose to have a child, it's not the same as "buying" a product. But the idea that what you do has different repercussions based on whether or not you have decided to nurture that child into being should not be surprising. You can do whatever you want to a fetus that you are not going to bring to the world - at that point it is just tissue. But if you are committed to bringing it into being, to birthing it and raising it, then it is not just tissue, but a potential child. Sure, it's not complete yet, but it's the necessary origin. Not every canvas becomes a beautiful painting, but every painting begins with an empty canvas [or cardboard or wood or youknowwhatimean]
posted by mdn at 1:20 PM on January 1, 2007



I'm sorry, where?

Political discussions in America are hilarious because of people like eustacescrubb who take joy in tweaking the oh-so-precious beliefs of the rigid dogmatists on either side.

You could not possibly have been more clear that you enjoy watching pointless partisan bickering of the specific type that tends to destroy all useful conversation.

So go enjoy your pointless, divisive, self-indulgent bickering. I'll continue optimistically wishing that people would stop that sort of bullshit.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 1:23 PM on January 1, 2007


how can a pro-choice person see one fetus (one destined to be aborted) as not deserving of protection from harm, while seeing another (one destined to be un-gayed) as deserving of it?

Because people should only be born under certain social conditions. This doesn't address the gay question however, but it does address those who would deliberately toxify or disable their fetus.
posted by Brian B. at 1:52 PM on January 1, 2007


it seems your issue is more with labeling animal activity "homosexual" or "heterosexual."

well, duh.
posted by quonsar at 1:53 PM on January 1, 2007


Brian B., good point; I guess there are some rights the don't always automatically deny others rights, but many rights, including the right to privacy often do.

You write:
The idea that an unborn child supersedes the rights of a mother usurps the concept of civil rights entirely.

Ah, but Roe v Wade doesn't see the rights of mother and child as equal; it sees the rights of the mother as greater than those of the child (and, incidentally, of the father.) So I wasn't trying to suggest that those rights are/were equal, but rather point out that no rights exist in a vacuum. Unless you're of the "God decreed that we have inaleinable rights" persuasion, then rights exist because the state defines them as such, and that means that when the rights of various entities are in conflict, the state decides whose trumps whose (hopefuly with what's best for all in mind) and in those cases, one's rights exist as against the right not held by other entities. I stil think that reproductive choice is one such right -- it exists only as long as the law agrees that fathers or the children about to be aborted don't have greater rights than the mother's right to privacy.
In short, I wasn't trying to equivocate; but you right in that I didn't consider some rights (like the right to vote) in my blanket statement about how rights work.

you seem to be ignoring the comments I already made...

No, I just didn't see an answer to my question in them.

The answer you just provided falls apart for me in your second paragrapgh. You seem to be saying that a child is only a child if the mother decides it's a child. Would you mind telling me, then, what makes something human? How ought the law go about determining what is and isn't human?
Your analogy doesn't work, I don't think. In it, we have pre-defined property, which the owner may dispose of at will, but may not dispose of if isn't hers. But that presupposes that everyone agrees it's orpoerty, where in your second paragraph, the fetus starts out as orpoerty, but the minute the mother "takes ownership" of it, it becomes a child, and then is protected. Does this mean, then, that if a mother decides to have a baby, she is suddenly forbidden from changing her mind and having an abortion? How do we know if/when she's made up her mind?
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:57 PM on January 1, 2007


Because people should only be born under certain social conditions.

Really? Like, into a family of one father and one mother? How ought we legislate something like that?
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:59 PM on January 1, 2007


Wait a minute? Wouldn't using hormones to fight homosexuality actually bring more gay?

Assuming that there are genetic traits that make it more likely for a person to grow up homosexual, an "anti-gay vaccine" would give a person carrying these genes a higher probability of having children. Genetically-probably-gay children.

I hope there'll be less hate around that generation.
posted by Anything at 2:01 PM on January 1, 2007


it seems your issue is more with labeling animal activity "homosexual" or "heterosexual."

well, duh.

wow, stunning comeback. it still doesn't address all the other points you dodged. nice try, though.
posted by mijuta at 2:04 PM on January 1, 2007


Of course, I'm assuming that anti-gay patches don't become standard issue for all mothers everywhere. In that case, when the nuclear war destroys all medical infrastructure, all children will be born so gay!
posted by Anything at 2:07 PM on January 1, 2007


Instead of vaccinating against the gay, I'd really rather a patch to make sure that my daughters *definitely* come out gay.

That way I wouldn't need to worry about those filthy scheming teenage guys.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:12 PM on January 1, 2007


klarck: I was assuming the definitions of rational and science you used above. As for faith, how about we call it an unrational, unscientific assumption of truth. Kind of like the unsupported assumption that nature is always best described by what some individual deems the simplest explanation. (Perhaps as a scientist, you can give the scientifcalistic, objective definition of simple without straying into an asthetic realm.)

Occam's razor isn't science; it's religion. Are you sure you're a scientist?


Well, to start with Occam's razor as used by scientists isn't really about truth, it's about choosing between approximations of truth (aka theories) when all things are equal.

How do scientists define "simple?"

Most scientific models take the form of:

a + b + c ... ~ X

Where X is some phenomenon of interest, and a,b,c (etc) are factors that are believed to be correlated with or cause X. There are potentially an infinite number of factors, but scientists can only add factors when those factors reduce the errors associated with empirical tests of that model.

So for example, most people think about water in terms of H2O. Chemists think about water as H2O + OH- + H30+. Those additional factors are not as simple as H2O. But they are reduce the error involved in predicting some reactions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:15 PM on January 1, 2007


HaHA! My mom is over and I brought this topic up with her (she's a family studies educator, very pro-choice).

She goes, "What are they, insane? That's a horrible idea. Get rid of gay men? Who will hang my curtains??"
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:19 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or if you are using statistics Occam's razor can be defined in terms of mathematics. You eliminate factors when their individual contributions to the accuracy and precision of the final model fails to meet statistical significance.

Of course, statistical significance is a fuzzy heuristic, but doesn't quite fall into the same category as "leap of faith."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:22 PM on January 1, 2007


wow, stunning comeback. it still doesn't address all the other points you dodged. nice try, though.

bottom line: you are a closed-minded self-aggrandizing pseudo-scientifical zealot who will not distinguish between himself and a beast. my original comment in the thread said what i wanted to say quite clearly.

though you persist religiously in attempting to prop up your dogma of beastliness, you are not a beast. in a human being, the term "homosexuality" implies much, much more than the mindless indiscriminate humping of a member of the same sex, things such as love, mutual intimacy and, you know, unscientifical stuff like that.

i get it. you're an edumacated scientificalistic beast. now go on off to the zoo and define words for the monkey cage. you might get to impress a chimp or two.
posted by quonsar at 2:42 PM on January 1, 2007


kitten.
posted by quonsar at 2:49 PM on January 1, 2007


my original comment in the thread said what i wanted to say quite clearly.

oh, ok then. it was just such a stupid statement with gross generalizations that i thought it deserved questioning. i didn't realize, though, that you are a certifiably open-minded, humble, professional scientist who has no dogma whatsoever--your comments would seem to indicate otherwise.

sorry, but the world doesn't always match what you "want" to believe, kitten.

*wanders off, chuckling*
posted by mijuta at 3:01 PM on January 1, 2007


Because people should only be born under certain social conditions.

Really? Like, into a family of one father and one mother? How ought we legislate something like that?


We already issue many social conditions. Any state will remove a child from a parent if they can't care for it, and the argument has as much to do with the child's interests as with the society that must tolerate abused offspring. Too many people still interpret state actions as illogical when funding and civil goals make it a common interest. By the same argument the state can mandate abortion on occasion for severe deformity or abuse of a fetus, which is the counterexample to the fetus-centered notion I responded to. Society can do what it wills without contradicting itself so long as civil rights are equal and fair. This last notion makes your last proposal unacceptable. A child's father dies, so we should take the child away? We must wait for the disorder or dereliction to appear before we act socially.
posted by Brian B. at 3:03 PM on January 1, 2007


then we are agreed. we both know it all.

*grins in a friendly way at mijuta*
posted by quonsar at 3:04 PM on January 1, 2007


Society can do what it wills without contradicting itself so long as civil rights are equal and fair.

But when has society ever been such that civil rights are equal and fair?
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:11 PM on January 1, 2007


then we are agreed. we both know it all.

*grins in a friendly way at mijuta*


bingo! truce.

*grins back in a friendly way at quonsar* (but this doesn't mean i want you to fist me, even if it is christian.)
posted by mijuta at 3:25 PM on January 1, 2007


You seem to be saying that a child is only a child if the mother decides it's a child. Would you mind telling me, then, what makes something human? How ought the law go about determining what is and isn't human?

Are you wilfully not getting this? The humanity or status of the child is irrelevant. We're aware that a fetus will one day be a baby.

Imagine I give you a big egg. I tell you that you can destroy it in the next three months, but not if you keep it longer. In nine months it'll hatch into a hen. I tell you that if you play the egg classical music, the hen will be a normal one; if you play it death metal, it will be a killer hen from Hell, wounding all in its path.

You have two choices, then: Do you keep the egg, and if so, what music do you play it? Do you see how your right to destroy the egg has no bearing on the morality of your decision on what music to play?

The point is that the woman gets to choose whether she'll be a mother or not. If she chooses to try and be one, there is a moral dimension as to whether or not she can discriminate about her unborn.
posted by bonaldi at 9:25 PM on January 1, 2007


But when has society ever been such that civil rights are equal and fair?

Which is my point. Two wrongs don't make a right. Society steps in when an obvious failure has occurred and not until then. Furthermore, because society is run by average people we can't trust our collective instincts to police a "perfect" world by forcing a birthing policy onto society (especially while demonizing social programs to feed and house such children--which is clear evidence of brainwashing) If a desperate, broken or troubled person with bad habits wants to have an abortion, I can't think of more appropriate response than to provide it as soon as possible before they change their mind. That right must be extended to all in fairness, because we can't go around second-guessing motives.
posted by Brian B. at 10:06 PM on January 1, 2007


Civil rights never contradict because they are equal and universal

? I have a Civil Right to blow you away if you threaten my life or property.

As for the Great Moral Debate above, IMO terminating the development of a (perhaps differentiated) ball of cells is a different ball game than manipulating the eventual personality of said ball of cells.

I don't get worked up about abortions cuz it's basically no harm / no foul -- not different than having worn a rubber really, regardless of the potentials of the fetus/baby involved.

As a societal matter once the woman decides to bring the baby into the world it is incumbent on her to do her best to make the baby healthy.

I consider homosexual tendencies to be some form of abnormality; I see no moral problem in the application of this putative therapeutic removal of teh gey.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:13 PM on January 1, 2007


Do you see how your right to destroy the egg has no bearing on the morality of your decision on what music to play?

Yes because law has no bearing on morality in any case. It works the other way around with morality supposedly informing and shaping law. The law regarding abortion has no bearing on the moral issue of causing a fetus harm. The moral issue of causing a fetus harm however could arguably bear on the law regarding abortion. It can be argued that a mother should, in a consistent moral system, have unhindered say over both (supposed) harm and destruction, or neither.
posted by scheptech at 11:16 PM on January 1, 2007


I tell you that you can destroy it in the next three months, but not if you keep it longer.

Your analogy isn't analagous, though. Firstly, you didn't give me the egg, I laid it. Secondly, your laws have reaffirmed the egg's status as my property which I may destroy or not, as part of my right to privacy. You may, of course, pass any law you like, but if you pass a law regulating my behavior toward the egg if I don't destroy it during the time it's legal for me to destroy it, then I don't really have a right to privacy (you're allowed to know/find out what sort of music I play it). That's logically inconsistent, and sure, there are laws that are logicaly inconsistent, but my initial joke poked fun at the logicl inconsistency, nothing more.
Further, your analogy relies on there being definite harm as a result of the music playing, which isn't the case here. It's more like: the egg might turn out to hatch into a rooster that digs other roosters if I don't play a lot of Tim McGraw music while it's an egg. Further, there are tests to determine if it might be a gay cock, and you're saying that I shouldn't be allowed to play the Tim McGraw music if I find out from these tests that it is a gay cock, even though, under your laws, I'm allowed to destroy the egg for any reason, including if I find out it's a gay cock.


Also, what scheptech said.

Brian B., your coment is a decent defense of abortion rights, but I don't see how it bears on the issue of un-gaying fetuses.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:45 AM on January 2, 2007


Does this mean, then, that if a mother decides to have a baby, she is suddenly forbidden from changing her mind and having an abortion? How do we know if/when she's made up her mind?

no, there is no "suddenly" in this scenario. All we are talking about is the long term recognition of the child as a separate person rather than as a product you get to design. If you don't want to have a child at all, then you stop the process before it has any consequences. But if you decide to have the child, then attempting to engineer a particular sort of human being seems morally questionable.

You are thinking like a pro-life person where the issue is the fetus in its current state. That is not how pro-choice people see it. The fetus in its current state is not what these hormone therapies would be harming. It would be the child that resulted from the practice, or society at large, or other untreated fetuses who grow up to belong to an ever smaller minority, who would suffer. The actual fetus that is directly affected by the drugs would not even know what was happening. But that doesn't mean that the actions have no consequences.

Traditionally we think of children as gifts of god or nature, having attributes we never would have thought of, bringing something new to the table. This approach to child bearing would recontextualize having kids as yet another consumer choice. That seems unfortunate. This is not because the poor little 3 month fetus is being oppressed. It is a much larger cultural issue and has nothing to do with any immediate experience on the part of the developing embryo. Presumably, according to our current science and our current laws, the developing tissue does not have immediate experiences. But alterations you make to the canvas at this stage will have powerful effects on the finished painting nonetheless. since these 'paintings' are going to grow up to be autonomous individuals, not just your products, this has important repercussions.
posted by mdn at 5:30 AM on January 2, 2007


You are thinking like a pro-life person where the issue is the fetus in its current state. That is not how pro-choice people see it.

Hmmm. What makes a "pro-choice person"? Since I'm opposed to outlawing abortion, doesn't that make me a "pro-choice person"? Do you get to tell me how I see things?
In any case, I'm not choosing to see the fetus as a person, I'm trying to work out the glaring logical inconsistency in the logic behind the two positions being espused here. As far as I can tell, there isn't an underlying logic -- there are two political ends (supporting reproductive freedom and opposing anti-gay bigotry) that are determining the responses to the respective issues, rather than an underlying moral framework that's informing political ideas.

For example, you write:

This approach to child bearing would recontextualize having kids as yet another consumer choice. That seems unfortunate.

But this is one of the criticisms pro-life people have levied against the pro-choice movement since the beginning. Or, to put it another way, it's you thinking like a pro-life person -- the fetus (unless we're killing it) is suddenly a potential child with rights that need protecting, based on the idea that nature or God (!) has a say in the whole child-making process.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:10 AM on January 2, 2007


Secondly, your laws have reaffirmed the egg's status as my property which I may destroy or not, as part of my right to privacy.
What laws? There aren't any in my post. Nor did I mention any right to privacy. I'm not in the US.

I'm trying to work out the glaring logical inconsistency in the logic behind the two positions being espused here.
FFS.

1. Persons should generally be able to live their lives however they want, free from interference, unless they interfere with someone else.

2. Therefore, if they fall pregnant, they should be able to terminate the fetus.

3. However, if the fetus is past the point where it can viably become a person, it can't be terminated because it gets rights under point 1 as well. We think that's about three months.

4. Therefore, once the fetus is past the point where it can viably become a person, you can't chemically interfere with its developing sexuality either.
posted by bonaldi at 6:53 AM on January 2, 2007


As far as I can tell, there isn't an underlying logic -- there are two political ends (supporting reproductive freedom and opposing anti-gay bigotry) that are determining the responses to the respective issues, rather than an underlying moral framework that's informing political ideas. ... Or, to put it another way, it's you thinking like a pro-life person -- the fetus (unless we're killing it) is suddenly a potential child with rights that need protecting, based on the idea that nature or God (!) has a say in the whole child-making process.

The fetus could always become a potential child--every pregnant woman understands that fully. There's no "suddenly a potential child"--it's just the simple logic of a woman choosing whether to have a child or not. Once she decides to have a child, the next logical decisions are regarding the welfare and successful and healthy birth of that child. It's simple. She's in charge of it--she's always in charge of it.

If we make judgements and offer our opinions on whether this specific and previously undoable kind of alteration in utero is wrong or dangerous or immoral, it's still logical. Balancing this possible action--taking hormones to prevent a gay child--against her own decision to bear a healthy child, we see problems. We also see that it conflicts with the woman's own decision to bear a healthy child--given the uncertainties of, and biases behind, any motivation to take such a treatment.
posted by amberglow at 7:19 AM on January 2, 2007


bonaldi,

I think in the US, the 3 month thing isn't the case.

amberglow,

If, "She's in charge of it--she's always in charge of it" then who are we to tell her that she can't un-gay her kid?

To put it another way, if you were threatened with either being un-gayed, or being killed, which would you chose?
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:55 AM on January 2, 2007


3. However, if the fetus is past the point where it can viably become a person, it can't be terminated because it gets rights under point 1 as well. We think that's about three months.

Yes, this fetal change in status is required to make any attempt at moral consistency. It can of course be easily attacked in a number of ways: 'we think' isn't good enough when dealing with isses of life and death; commonsensically there are two significant events, conception and first breath, defining any event in between is artifice or rationalization; etc.

There's no "suddenly a potential child"


But there has to be for consistency. The fetus suddenly becomes a potential child either when the mother decides it is (not going to abort) or at 3 months or whatever else we might come up with. This provides the necessary boundary between "it's ok to destroy" and "it's not ok to alter".
posted by scheptech at 8:01 AM on January 2, 2007



If, "She's in charge of it--she's always in charge of it" then who are we to tell her that she can't un-gay her kid?

To put it another way, if you were threatened with either being un-gayed, or being killed, which would you chose?

We're humans, and offer our opinions and judgements all the time. As mdn (i think) said, it's not just her kid who will be affected by this kind of treatment but all of society. And the choice is not between being un-gayed or unborn, but between being born healthy or altered specificially to fit hatred and a biased view (instead of disease or unviability).

schep, it's always a potential child, i think--from the moment a woman finds out she's pregnant, whether it's a zygote or a fetus. That doesn't eliminate any pro-choiceness. It's still her decision to carry or not, to abort or not, etc. It's still her decision to alter or not--we just disagree about whether she should alter because a kid might be gay--altering in utero is now only done for life-threatening circumstances. Testing, however, is done for all sorts of things, life-threatening or not.

related: There's a big change coming for pregnant women: Down syndrome testing no longer hinges on whether they're older or younger than 35. This week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists begins recommending that every pregnant woman, regardless of age, be offered a choice of tests for this common birth defect. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:14 AM on January 2, 2007


it's weird, amberglow -- I keep seeing you (and others here) make the same arguments pro-life folks make to say we shouldn't have legalized abortion. Like: it's not just her kid who will be affected by this kind of treatment but all of society.

But yet, I'm guessing you'd reject such reasoning from pro-life folks regarding abortion.

And it's not really a big deal to me, like I said, it all stemmed from a jokey comment, so you know, go ahead, eat the cake, but I guess all I'm saying is don't be suprised when, having eaten it, you discover you can't have it too.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:33 AM on January 2, 2007


eustacescrubb,

can you terminate at 8 1/2 months? No? then you have a line, and everything else still stands. As you well know.
posted by bonaldi at 8:49 AM on January 2, 2007


bonaldi - 3 months is probably too early according to u s law, but you do get points for consistency in your reasoning

as biotechnology and other technology becomes feasible, we're going to be faced with a lot of questions like this ... and to fail to answer the questions with a consistent philosophy will mean that the decisions will be left to those who simply "know" such and such is wrong ... or their opponents who "know" it's right

a coherent system of political thought is critical for liberals to have
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 AM on January 2, 2007


Yes, this fetal change in status is required to make any attempt at moral consistency. It can of course be easily attacked in a number of ways: 'we think' isn't good enough when dealing with isses of life and death; commonsensically there are two significant events, conception and first breath, defining any event in between is artifice or rationalization; etc.

Likewise, we already have this change in status, so I don't see how it's presented as some supposed flaw in the thinking. It's not completely required, however -- it would still be wrong if you could chemically change the kid before 3 months or whenever, because the impact would carry on past the birth.
posted by bonaldi at 8:54 AM on January 2, 2007


it's weird, amberglow -- I keep seeing you (and others here) make the same arguments pro-life folks make to say we shouldn't have legalized abortion. Like: it's not just her kid who will be affected by this kind of treatment but all of society.
I don't see it--the total lack of action and attention on early childhood healthcare, education, housing, poverty alieviation, nutrition, etc, by pro-lifers all point to their sole focus being on preventing women from making choices before birth--the results (and the resulting impact on society) be damned. You'll have to prove that your statement is actually grounded in facts.
posted by amberglow at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2007


But this is one of the criticisms pro-life people have levied against the pro-choice movement since the beginning. Or, to put it another way, it's you thinking like a pro-life person -- the fetus (unless we're killing it) is suddenly a potential child with rights that need protecting, based on the idea that nature or God (!) has a say in the whole child-making process.

ok, we're obviously talking past each other. I've explained my position four times and you still consider it inconsistent, so I guess we'll just have to leave things there. To me, it is the potentiality as potentiality that is under consideration, which is to say, if one decides not to let it actualize, then nothing needs to be done about it, but if one decides to let it actualize, then the choices made which affect it are important. I do not know why this is so inscrutable to you.

Traditionally the pro-life position is not a concern with potentiality as potentiality, but with the fetus in its current state as an actual being - that's why they call it "murder" to abort a fetus. To the pro-choicer, abortion is turning off the movie before the opening credits roll. This case, letting the movie roll but talking over it or something, is a separate issue. You can be for or against baby engineering regardless of your stance on abortion. There is no need for one belief to affect the other: one is concerned with whether or not you think fetuses are sentient or deserving of protection as they are, while the other is concerned with your opinion about the purpose of children and the amount of control parents should have over their attributes.

ANyway, I have not suggested that I think this should be illegal, to begin with. I just find it distasteful and unfortunate. But it's a free country... so I don't even think we're in disagreement technically.
posted by mdn at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2007


The vast network of "women's health clinics" and "counseling centers" that are really all geared towards preventing abortion while pretending otherwise, compared to the utter absence of any network of care for women and their already-existing children by these very people prove it in a nutshell.
posted by amberglow at 9:41 AM on January 2, 2007


can you terminate at 8 1/2 months? No? then you have a line, and everything else still stands. As you well know.

I'm not sure -- I know we allow late-term abortions, but I don't know if there's a hard line drawn as to when you can't perofrm one anymore.

In any case, let's suppose that the line is 8.5 months. Does that mean that it's okay to flood the womb with un-gaying hormones any time up to 8.5 months?

I do not know why this is so inscrutable to you.

Because the concept of potentiality is somewhat watery and subjective -- I don't see how potential humans are in need of legal protection and it seems like it'd be a nightmare to legislate.

But yeah I think un-gaying is a bad idea, and I am opposed to genetic manipulation of pretty much any kind.

You'll have to prove that your statement is actually grounded in facts.

Can you clarify what you're asking me to prove? I've heard many a pro-lifer make the argument that killing fetuses has an effect on society outside just its effect on the individual -- some argue it's a form of racial genocide, some argue that we're denying the world of potential genuises, some argue that our condoning of violence like that makes us bloodthirsty, etc. I suppose I could try and dig up quotes for you, but do you really want to wade thorugh (and make me wade through) a lot of pro-life rhetoric?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:14 AM on January 2, 2007


In any case, let's suppose that the line is 8.5 months. Does that mean that it's okay to flood the womb with un-gaying hormones any time up to 8.5 months?

Are you trolling now? I can't understand why you're insisting on being so literally bloody-minded about the points people are trying to get across to you here, especially since you keep insisting you started out with a (mean-spiriting and sneering) "joke".

Of course it's not OK to fucking flood the womb with hormones before our "child" point, because the effects of it will last well beyond the "child" point. Abortion means the fetus never gets to that point, so there's no contradiction here either.

Somebody's already granted that there's a coherent position in this, why are you refusing to concede it? To support your "joke"?
posted by bonaldi at 11:43 AM on January 2, 2007


Somebody's already granted that there's a coherent position in this

i granted that AFTER a certain point in time, there's a coherent position there ... BEFORE that point in time, no, there's not one

how do you insure that a mother isn't de-gaying her kid in the first 3 months, say ... without invading her privacy in the same way that ensuring she doesn't have an abortion would?

what if instead of de-gaying, they found a gene that made it 4 more times likely for the kid to be a violent criminal ... and slightly more likely to become a good athlete ... and there was some kind of chemical in utero therapy that could change this?

do you allow that? ... is it immoral?

think of any human attribute you can name ... and wonder if a similar therapy might be possible for it ... if you argue that doing such a thing is immoral and bad for people and therefore society, fine

but what happens if the chinese, say, go ahead with the technology and end up with a society that outperforms ours? ... then what?

we may be facing that question by the end of the century
posted by pyramid termite at 12:27 PM on January 2, 2007


i granted that AFTER a certain point in time, there's a coherent position there ... BEFORE that point in time, no, there's not one
Eh? No you didn't. You said that if a distinction can be made, there is a coherent position, which there is. BEFORE the point in time, the coherence depends on knowing that the point will reasonably be reached, yes.

how do you insure that a mother isn't de-gaying her kid in the first 3 months, say ... without invading her privacy in the same way that ensuring she doesn't have an abortion would
You don't. You make sure the doctors don't do it. I don't see where privacy comes in to this at all, except as legal back-bending to keep abortion legal in the US.

do you allow that? ... is it immoral?
Yes, it's a hugely tricky grey area, and is probably easier defined in terms of what you don't allow, like many laws.
posted by bonaldi at 12:40 PM on January 2, 2007


Eh? No you didn't.

well, if you know what i say better than i do, then there's hardly any point in my replying, is there?

You don't. You make sure the doctors don't do it.

that worked real well with abortion ... and what if it was doable by over the counter means?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:53 PM on January 2, 2007


We both know what you said:
bonaldi - 3 months is probably too early according to u s law, but you do get points for consistency in your reasoning
Where's the clear delineation between BEFORE and AFTER that you think you made?

that worked real well with abortion ... and what if it was doable by over the counter means?
Abortion is do-able without medical supervision, that horse had already bolted. Sure, if the means for de-gaying are very commonly available, then all you can do is prosecute the people you catch. You don't give up on laws because the crime is easy to commit.
posted by bonaldi at 1:00 PM on January 2, 2007


Are you trolling now? I can't understand why you're insisting on being so literally bloody-minded about the points people are trying to get across to you here, especially since you keep insisting you started out with a (mean-spiriting and sneering) "joke".

No. I can't understand why actually thinking about this issue in terms of how it will play out in reality is "bloody-minded". Your inability to persuade does not make me "bloody-minded." Consider that, politically, I'm on your side -- I'm pro-gay, and in favor of reproductive rights. It should be easy to persuade me, except that I'm demanding you do more than just reiterate the same unworkable points over and over.

Of course it's not OK to fucking flood the womb with hormones before our "child" point, because the effects of it will last well beyond the "child" point. Abortion means the fetus never gets to that point, so there's no contradiction here either.

But there is: your definition of "child" isn't usable or sensible. The law doesn't see the fetus in terms of "potential" and from the standpoint of the law, it either is or isn't the woman's choice to do something to it. The idea of poetnetiality doesn't enter in to it. And if it does, if we are now bound to consider the fetus as a potential child, then why should it not be considered a potential child when we're thinking about abortion? You can't have it both ways.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:03 PM on January 2, 2007


Crap. Lost some of my comment to cyberspace.

You can't have it both ways, in terms of the law. If we pass a law saying that we're protecting fetuses from hormone treatment, it has to be based on something to hold up in court. If, let's say, we pass a law making it illegal, and it does hold up in court, then the next time there's a challenge to Roe v Wade, the case supporting the anti-de-gaying law will show up in someone's arguments as legal precedent -- look, see, here we're treating fetuses like citizens, protecting them from medical procdures they can't consent to.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:07 PM on January 2, 2007


Your inability to persuade does not make me "bloody-minded."
No, but irrelevant come backs like "we don't have the 3-month law" do, when the principle is exactly the same regardless of when the date is, and you do have a term-limit.

But there is: your definition of "child" isn't usable or sensible. The law doesn't see the fetus in terms of "potential" and from the standpoint of the law.
Yes it is, and yes it does. Apparently in the US the notion of child is definied as the point when the fetus is "viable"..

And if it does, if we are now bound to consider the fetus as a potential child, then why should it not be considered a potential child when we're thinking about abortion? You can't have it both ways.
As many people have attempted to explain to you, you CAN. To avoid us splitting hairs forever, let's say the only point that matters is birth and you can abort up until the head appears at the cervix.

It would STILL be wrong to hormonally alter the eventual kid, because you're affecting the existence of the human that will appear. It would STILL be OK to abort it, because the fetus had no rights until the head appeared. Once the decision to abort has been made, there is no longer a potential human to be concerned with.
posted by bonaldi at 1:20 PM on January 2, 2007


What a weird discussion. It looks like the last few hundred posts have hinged around a fairly simple question, e.g.:

Is it logically consistent to have laws saying a mother can abort a fetus, and simultaneously have laws saying a mother cannot perform actions which will alter the child the fetus will become?

Which seems like a total no-brainer to me. Of course it is (or can be) logically consistent. There are arguments for or against such laws (social harm, privacy, personal choice, civil rights, etc., etc., etc.), but no necessary logical inconsistency. Arguing from social harm is one easy way to encompass both (no child = no social harm, healthy child = no social harm, child altered in damaging way = social harm.) The only question in that case is, what is damaging? And that is an argument already made by both pro-lifers and pro-choicers (as is examining the balance between civil rights of the mother and civil rights of the potential child, if any), so it's not like it's hypocritical for either side to make the argument. There are other ways to look at it, too, which can encompass both, such as the aforementioned balance of civil rights approach. So?

Let's look at this from a broader perspective. In the not-too-distant future, there could be all kinds of changes you can make to your developing fetus. What kinds should be allowed, and what kinds should be disallowed, and on what basis?

Should a mother be allowed to alter a child's intelligence? Only up, or also down? Gender? Race? Sexual orientation? Strength or speed? Should a mother be allowed to make her child deaf (there's one that's already come up ...)? Should only "positive" changes be allowed? What's a positive change and what's a negative change, and how are they judged? On what basis? Social harm? Civil rights? Some vague mix of the two? Whatever makes us feel kind of squicky? Should a mother be allowed to make no changes to a developing fetus? Any change she wants? What is the basis for these decisions?

These are issues that could come up sooner than any of us would perhaps like ...
posted by kyrademon at 1:24 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks, kyrademon.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:50 PM on January 2, 2007


We both know what you said:

i've already clarified it for you ... go be rude to someone else
posted by pyramid termite at 2:48 PM on January 2, 2007


Which seems like a total no-brainer to me. Of course it is (or can be) logically consistent. There are arguments for or against such laws (social harm, privacy, personal choice, civil rights, etc., etc., etc.), but no necessary logical inconsistency.

Just have to respectfully disagree that this could ever be logically consistent, just on its face.

On the one hand, you'd be treating an embryo as a non-human piece of tissue. On the other, it's a thing that is accorded a special status akin to basic human rights. Kill it, but don't drug it.

This is like the arguments against using blinding weapons, as if it were somehow more humane to be killed by a bullet than blinded by a laser.
posted by frogan at 5:21 PM on January 2, 2007


of course it's more humane to kill instantly than to drag it out and make them suffer. that should be clear to all.
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on January 2, 2007


Or if you are using statistics Occam's razor can be defined in terms of mathematics. You eliminate factors when their individual contributions to the accuracy and precision of the final model fails to meet statistical significance.

Of course, statistical significance is a fuzzy heuristic, but doesn't quite fall into the same category as "leap of faith."


That's one part of mathematics where Occam's Razor comes in, but I prefer the example of the Pigeonhole Principle, which is about as rigorous a use of Occam's Razor as I can think of.
posted by eparchos at 5:33 PM on January 2, 2007


On the one hand, you'd be treating an embryo as a non-human piece of tissue. On the other, it's a thing that is accorded a special status akin to basic human rights. Kill it, but don't drug it.

Here we go round again. In case you *have* read the various attempts to do this above, here's another one: in many places, it's OK to kill a terminally-ill person either with their permission or if there is little to no chance of recovery. In those same places, it is not OK to torture them, or to do drug testing on them, however.

But how can this be? On one hand, you're saying the right to life no longer applies, on the other, you're according them basic human rights. Kill them, but don't drug them. Whaa?
posted by bonaldi at 5:45 PM on January 2, 2007


There is a difference between preventing something from becoming a person, and altering the type of person that thing will become (and then allowing it to develop fully).
posted by tehloki at 5:55 PM on January 2, 2007


Thanks, bonaldi. Similar laws apply to both citizens with full rights and non-citizens with no rights, including:

Comatose or nonresponsive people
Animals and pets
Fetuses
The terminally ill
Soldiers engaged in war

and so on. In all cases, laws have been drawn up essentially saying that it is legal to kill them in certain circumstances, but not legal to drug, torture, and/or abuse them. It's only not logically consistent if you take the extremely minority view of believing that all rights must be applied the same way at all times and in all circumstances to all people, animals, and possibly objects. If you don't, you can say things like, the rights of X take precedence in this case, the rights of Y take precedence in that case, and in this third case, Z gets to decide.

Anyway.

Anyone want to weigh in on the larger issue? What rights *should* a mother have in terms of treatment of the developing fetus? All rights, no matter what the circumstances? Only certain rights? Perhaps judged on some kind of comparative, case-by-case, or socially determined basis? What would that basis (or bases) be?
posted by kyrademon at 6:10 PM on January 2, 2007


Incidentally, how would you all feel about:

A gay parent who wanted to make their child gay? A straight parent who wanted to make their child straight?

A black parent who wanted to make their child white? A white parent who wanted to make their child black? Any parent who wanted to make their child Andorian Blue?

A deaf parent who wanted to make their child deaf? A parent deaf because of a genetic defect who wanted to give their child hearing?

A parent who wanted to give their child blue eyes? A parent who wanted to give their child devil horns?

A parent who wanted to make their child stronger, smarter, or faster? A parent who wanted to make their child weaker, dumber, or slower?

What are the differences here? What should be allowed and what should be banned? And why?
posted by kyrademon at 6:32 PM on January 2, 2007


How about this: what if you drugged the embryo, then aborted it later on? Drugging the embryo is wrong, because it's a potential human! But drugging the embryo is okay, because it's a potential aborted fetus! Ha-HA!

Another rationally dissonant thing is... do you people who are arguing that a pregnant mother couldn't morally volunteer for a gay vaccine really believe it in the general way you're stating it or are you talking specifically about the case of the gay vaccine? Like, if a pregnant woman was to participate in testing a prenatal cure for Downs Syndrome, would you really object to that?

And another thing... if abortion is okay, doesn't that mean that it would be okay to abort an embryo if you could somehow test whether it was gay? Wouldn't that just be the same thing as gender selection? (Of course, agreeing with that wouldn't be inconsistent with opposing prenatal experimentation.)

And another nother thing... should this really have anything in particular to do with prenatalness or potential humanness? Wouldn't an experimental defaggifying treatment on a 10-month old be as objectionable as a prenatal one? Or an experimental treatment applied unknowingly or against the will to an adult?

And for that matter, my droogy droogs, what if there was some non-medical, behavioral training method to ensure that a child grew up non-gay, p'raps a bit of the old Ludwig Van and some hypno-subversive film strips, eh? Wouldn't that be equivalent also?
posted by XMLicious at 6:38 PM on January 2, 2007


Oooh, and here's another one: if potential people really are moral agents, shouldn't this debate begin at the point of having (hetero) sex? Maybe this means that we actually all should be gay to prevent sex from potentially creating potential fetuses that potentially could become humans, who potentially could suffer.

Back in the pile!
posted by XMLicious at 6:56 PM on January 2, 2007


Comatose or nonresponsive people
The terminally ill
Soldiers engaged in war


All cases of excused killing are based on a rationale such as ending intolerable suffering, they're-as-good-as-dead-anyway, or killing to end further killing situations. None of which apply to a healthy fetus.

Anyone want to weigh in on the larger issue? What rights *should* a mother have in terms of treatment of the developing fetus?

The right to be the person who decides what's positive within guidelines based on not causing suffering or ending life, like with children. With kids there are thousands of laws regarding what's postitive and what's not. The law will just have to keep up with technology. So there's the "larger" issue. The more interesting one remains the obvious legal conundrum for abortion this will create when we start to treat a fetus like a person by regulating maternal treatment of it.
posted by scheptech at 7:01 PM on January 2, 2007


Those weren't the only cases I listed, scheptech. But frankly, I am thoroughly uninterested in discussing abortion in the context of this thread, so I'll just move on and respond to the part that I am interested in:

"The right to be the person who decides what's positive within guidelines based on not causing suffering or ending life, like with children. With kids there are thousands of laws regarding what's postitive and what's not. The law will just have to keep up with technology."

Definitely a possible take on how this could go, but leaves open some troubling possibilities. What kind of "suffering" is allowable to cause, and what isn't? Does suffering which has purely a social basis count?

That is to say, I think most would agree that it should be beyond the pale to make your child a cripple, but what about cosmetic changes? If you could give your child blue eyes, why not devil horns? Would that be OK? Should parents be allowed to influence characteristics - take steps to see that their child is less shy, less combative? That doesn't cause suffering, per se ... so why does the idea bother me on some level I can't quite define? Does it bother you?
posted by kyrademon at 7:28 PM on January 2, 2007


Those weren't the only cases I listed, scheptech.

True, but animals aren't humans and we're already talking about fetus's.

Definitely a possible take on how this could go, but leaves open some troubling possibilities. What kind of "suffering" is allowable to cause, and what isn't?

I expect we can look at how the law deals with the treatment of children now and parental latitude in that area to see how it will evolve to deal with designer baby issues. What kind of suffering is allowable to cause a child now etc.

Does suffering which has purely a social basis count?

Yeah, there's lots of interesting problem scenarios, there will likely be an equal number of interesting laws created to address them. The law recognizes social suffering of a sort already or at least suffering of a non-physical nature, one can be sued for defamation for example and the law recognizes "mental anquish". There are laws regarding sexual harrassment that don't require anything physical to occur.

Does it bother you?


Yes of course, it's a potential nightmare and the law will have to move quick to keep up. It's just hard to see how it will be able to do so without somehow re-defining what a fetus is and therefor, even as a side-effect, how it's mother may treat it.
posted by scheptech at 8:30 PM on January 2, 2007


Hmm ... I don't entirely disagree with you, scheptech, but I think you're being a little cavalier about a couple of things. For one thing, I feel that (possibly because it fits with your particular ideology, possibly not) you're being a little dismissive of the legal and physical differences between a previable fetus and a child, which are even more profound than the legal and physical differences between a child and an adult. Simply saying "the law will look at what's permissable to do to a child, and extend that to a fetus, in doing so redefining the current legal definition of a fetus" is, I think, ignoring a number of important points.

For one thing, there are changes you can make to a child while it's still a couple of cells that you simply CANNOT do to an already-born child. The already-extent laws regarding children are simply irrelevant when you're talking about genetic or epigenetic modification. It's pretty much a new area of law. The only laws that approach some of the issues at hand are cloning bans and stem cell research bans, which seem to me to be largely based on fear and misunderstanding, and the laws governing genetically modified foods, which frankly tend to be written to favor the interests of certain corporations. Neither strikes me as a good basis for moving forward.

I suspect if these issues are not thought through carefully, it will lead to either an outright ban (except perhaps on certain procedures to correct known genetic diseases) or permission in all cases (except perhaps for actions known to cause physical or mental harm to a developing fetus, or procedures too experimental to be safe.) Neither, incidentally, would necessarily require a change in the current legal status of a fetus.

Since I tend to favor proceeding forward, but slowly and cautiously, neither of those end results sit well with me, but I'm not sure where I think the line should be drawn. Right now, I have a fear of unforseen consequences, but that will disappate as the technology improves. At that point ... I'm not sure. I don't see why a parent *shouldn't* be able to "custom build" a child, except ... something about it bothers me. I don't trust people to make good decisions, but neither do I trust the government to do so, nor the corporations. I rather prefer the scenario where they're all keeping tabs on each other; checks and balances. Which will probably lead to the usual muddle of contradictory laws.

Perhaps that's actually for the best, in some ways.
posted by kyrademon at 1:08 AM on January 3, 2007


What rights *should* a mother have in terms of treatment of the developing fetus? All rights, no matter what the circumstances? Only certain rights? Perhaps judged on some kind of comparative, case-by-case, or socially determined basis? What would that basis (or bases) be?
I'll bite--The mother generally holds the right to abort or not. The mother holds the right to subject the fetus only to treatments that will ensure life and health when the fetus would otherwise die or be crippled/disabled for life in some physical or mental manner, or have a vastly shortened or painful life.

Like, if a pregnant woman was to participate in testing a prenatal cure for Downs Syndrome, would you really object to that?

And another thing... if abortion is okay, doesn't that mean that it would be okay to abort an embryo if you could somehow test whether it was gay?

Downs Syndrome is a disease which shortens and greatly affects life in most cases. Sexual orientation is not a disease at all. For diseases, i think most of us would be fine with in utero treatment or cures.

I believe it is ok to abort an embryo if you don't want it--for whatever reason. Aborting a gay child is much less troubling to me than trying to alter or change it. Right now many people the world over are aborting their female embryos when they learn the sex--i wouldn't personally, but it's their right. What they're not doing, however, is giving them sex changes in the womb.
posted by amberglow at 1:22 PM on January 3, 2007


Of course, it's more complicated than that--i was just thinking about breast cancer and other cancers--some of them don't kill, and some of them may or may not express themselves even if the person carries the gene. Would treatment for that be allowed in utero? We identify more and more of those genes every day--would genetic elimination of them work, or is it also the gene in combination with other factors that makes it express itself in life? It's so complicated.
posted by amberglow at 1:29 PM on January 3, 2007


And then, of course there are things that i would immediately say ok to fixing--tay-sachs, sickle cell, etc.
posted by amberglow at 1:30 PM on January 3, 2007


more on the Doctor doing the tests, and other studies on mice and flies and stuff (wrapped in an anti-PETA thing)
posted by amberglow at 9:37 PM on January 4, 2007


And another thing... if abortion is okay, doesn't that mean that it would be okay to abort an embryo if you could somehow test whether it was gay?

I think what some people have intuitively grasped was that if firing someone from a job is okay, it doesn't mean that it would be okay to fire someone because they were gay.
posted by Brian B. at 10:57 PM on January 4, 2007


Andrew Sullivan has a column in the Times about this.
posted by Martin E. at 11:33 AM on January 8, 2007


One of the scientists in question emails Sullivan.
posted by EarBucket at 1:21 PM on January 9, 2007


the original story really was way off, it seems. This is coming tho, i'm sure.
posted by amberglow at 6:36 PM on January 9, 2007


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