We live in an age of ever escalating rights’ claims, but with ever decreasing emphasis on responsibility and obligation. Every day new claims to rights are being heard, often just pulled out of the hat. And each new day sees less and less talk of duty and of responsibility.
That is simply a recipe for disaster. No society can last and flourish if it thinks it can go rights mad while neglecting duty and obligation. Rights without responsibilities simply mean the end of a free nation. A nation obsessed with rights but which knows little or nothing of our social and moral obligations will soon spiral out of control.
And we are witnessing this very thing today. Daily newspaper headlines inform us of ever more rights being demanded, yet without any sense of responsibility or duty attached to them. These rights seem to come from nowhere, and indeed, were only recently seen as vices. Now we have turned them into virtues.
Consider the family unit. For centuries we have attached great importance to the family, that is: mother, father, child. We long knew that children do best when raised by their own biological parents, cemented by marriage. But with the new Assisted Reproductive Technologies in particular, and the war on marriage and family in general, we have thrown millennia of wisdom out the window.
Now we think that because science and technology allows us to do something, we should do it. Thus science has outstripped morality, and anything goes in our Brave New World. And all the old concerns about protecting the most vulnerable, and our obligations to them, have gone out the window as well.
The wellbeing of children used to be the paramount consideration in family and social issues. Now they are at best an after-thought and at worst a political football for the activists. They are simply guinea pigs in our social engineering schemes.
Consider this incredible story: “A sperm donor has been ordered to pay child support for the biological daughter he fathered to a lesbian couple who found him via Craigslist. Angela Bauer, 40, and partner Jennifer Schreiner, 34, placed an ad on the site three years ago for a donor which was answered by William Marotta. ‘We are foster and adoptive parents and now we desire to share a pregnancy and birth together,’ Bauer wrote in the online posting.
“Mr Marotta provided sperm which was used for artificial insemination by Ms Schreiner. In return, he gave up parental rights including financial duties for the child. The three signed a legal document which stated Mr Marotta, a married mechanic who fosters children with his wife, would have no rights to the child.
“Bauer and Schreiner updated Marotta on their daughter’s well-being occasionally but he has had little contact, according to the Kansas City Star. The arrangement changed earlier this year when Ms Schreiner, the only parent registered on her daughter’s birth certificate, applied for social welfare.
“Ms Bauer had been supporting the child but was left unable to work due to ill health. On October 3, 2012, attorney Mark McMillan filed a petition on behalf of the Department of Children and Families seeking a ruling that Marotta is the father of Schreiner’s child and owes a duty to support her.”
Oh, and the lesbian couple separated in 2010. There are so many levels of madness going on here that one hardly knows where to begin. How did we ever get to the place that we could buy and sell things like sperm and eggs as if they were simply CDs or plasma TVs?
How did the sacred nature of new life and its creation become just a crass commodity like any other? And what about the fundamental right of a child to be born and raised by his own biological parents, and to be raised in a household where marriage holds them together and sets them apart from all others?
And how does a sperm donor become the main one responsible for a child’s upkeep in such a socially messed up scenario? There are so many questions one can ask here, and seemingly so very few answers. Welcome to the Brave new World of child manufacture.
It is all part of the dehumanised and depersonalised scary new world of ART and bioengineering. Thus we have the purchasing and the manufacture of children; disposable and replaceable parents; scientists and labs making life instead of a loving husband and wife; bizarre family arrangements which even the wisdom of Solomon could not adjudicate.
These are just some of the many worms that have exploded out of the Pandora’s Box which may never be able to be closed again. We have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. Where all this will lead to no one seems to know. It just seems to get more spooky and out-of-control each passing day.
And as usual children will be the real losers here. But so too will be marriage, family, society and Western civilisation. Moreover, the really scary thing is we are often not even shocked or repulsed by all these things taking place. Back in 1997 bioethicist Leon Kass wrote an important piece entitled “The Wisdom of Repugnance”.
While dealing particularly with the issue of human cloning, it was a prophetic cry for modern man to wake up and realise what calamitous designs we are bringing about, and how we have lost the ability to even be jolted by these new developments. He said in part:
“Changes in the broader culture make it now vastly more difficult to express a common and respectful understanding of sexuality, procreation, nascent life, family, and the meaning of motherhood, fatherhood and the links between the generations. Twenty-five years ago, abortion was still largely illegal and thought to be immoral, the sexual revolution (made possible by the extramarital use of the pill) was still in its infancy, and few had yet heard about the reproductive rights of single women, homosexual men and lesbians. (Never mind shameless memoirs about one’s own incest!)
“Then one could argue, without embarrassment, that the new technologies of human reproduction — babies without sex — and their confounding of normal kin relations — who’s the mother: the egg donor, the surrogate who carries and delivers, or the one who rears? — would ‘undermine the justification and support that biological parenthood gives to the monogamous marriage.’ Today, defenders of stable, monogamous marriage risk charges of giving offense to those adults who are living in ‘new family forms’ or to those children who, even without the benefit of assisted reproduction, have acquired either three or four parents or one or none at all.
“Today, one must even apologize for voicing opinions that twenty-five years ago were nearly universally regarded as the core of our culture’s wisdom on these matters. In a world whose once-given natural boundaries are blurred by technological change and whose moral boundaries are seemingly up for grabs, it is much more difficult to make persuasive the still compelling case against cloning human beings. As Raskolnikov put it, ‘man gets used to everything — the beast!’”
It is a frightening time to be alive, for the minds of those who have no moral or spiritual constraints keep spinning further and further into the abyss. And we all pay the price for it.