By: Wesley J. Smith
I guess it takes global warming hysteria to get the bioethics movement to criticize what is known in the trade as “artificial reproductive technologies” or ART.
But now, in the ever more radical Journal of Medical Ethics, Cristina Richie, of Boston College’s Department of Theology, argues that these technologies should be regulated to limit the number of children–called “carbon legacies,” as a means of fighting climate change. From the article:
A carbon footprint is the aggregate of resource use and carbon emissions over a person’s life. A carbon legacy occurs when a person chooses to procreate. All people have carbon footprints; only people with biological children have carbon legacies.
I don’t know if Richie coined the term, but it is ridiculous. Children are children, not bundles of carbon producers.
ART is an almost unregulated industry, a lamentable circumstance with which many bioethicists are content. But Richie says global warming has to change the field’s thinking about ART.
Through the use of ARTs multiple children are born, adding to worldwide carbon emissions. This is a burden on the already over-taxed ecosystem to support new beings who might not have existed without medical intervention. It is therefore the obligation of environmental policymakers, the ethical and medical communities, and even society to carefully weigh the interests of our shared planet with a business that intentionally creates more humans when we must reduce our carbon impact.
All those IVF babies are melting the ice caps!
While population growth and ARTs are not the primary environmental issue that should concern ecologists and bioethicists, the numbers of ART babies are increasing at an exponential rate. If we were to look at these numbers in terms of carbon emissions instead of raw population growth data, the statistics look grim.
No, grim is the exploitation of surrogates in biological colonialism and the eugenic impetus that has sunk its fangs deep into the heart of the industry. In the face of such human objectification, sorry, I can’t get upset about global warming.
It’s time to regulate!
The unregulated ART business can no longer be endorsed and the medical industry ought not operate in an environmental vacuum. Retrenchment in all areas of life is the key to slowing down or halting carbon emissions that lead to climate change. For each child made through medical intervention a carbon legacy results. ARTs should be allocated with due concern for the environment and sober consideration for the implications of climate change.
Carbon caps on the fertility business and eliminating funded ARTs for those who are not biologically infertile are the beginning of an environmentally sustainable ART business.
“And Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little carbon legacies to come onto me’…” Good grief.
About the author: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.
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