General Question

Pandora's avatar

If there was a way to prevent any and all abnormalities in any future child should every pregnant woman be made to do it?

Asked by Pandora (28168points) May 27th, 2016

I don’t mean, like take something that is invasive, but rather, if doctors discovered that the right amount of a certain vitamin or chemical is the cause for children being born either with a physical or mental difference from what is considered normal.
I know that will never happen, but just suspend your belief and pretend there is this magic vitamin or pill that can make sure your child is never born with some physical difference, like and extra toe, or mental difference, like being a savant, or passionate, or artistic, or violent. Just a normal, absolutely boring person.
Perfectly normal healthy genetics. So should it become mandatory? Or should the parents decide to role the dice? You get what you get?

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33 Answers

cazzie's avatar

Someone would have to have to start defining ‘normal’ and frankly, with my work with children and my own kids, who are not neuro-typical, I think this whole idea should be put back in the Nazi Eugenics file it came out of.
And no. We had this discussion somewhere where I had to link to several places to explain how we already lack in genetic diversity so much as to make out future existence perilous. Our human genome is so limited compared even to other primates and mammals, even, that it wouldn’t take much to whip us out as it is. Diversity in genetics is what helps species evolve to adapt. If we started wiping out mutations one at a time, we would be wiping ourselves out.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Invent in first, @Pandora and we’ll see.

I kind og agree with @cazzie. Our imperfections, and even sicknesses, make us what we are.

Jak's avatar

How does ANY of that qualify as healthy or normal?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I agree with @cazzie and @elbanditoroso whole-heartedly. I suppose someone might be able to cipher out “norms” from the DSM-5, but these would still be obscure and endlessly arguable. But it is a good question.

I don’t think we’ll go that direction, however. There might someday be laws in some progressive countries to prevent the use of these curatives for all the reasons @cazzie has stated. I think that the instinct for one to protect one’s child from any perceived disadvantage is so overwhelming, however, that one would ignore the greater good and ensure that their child gets the best advantage especially if they are among the entitled, the wealthy and the powerful. This, of course, would cause a push back in the name of inequality and the people might insist that these laws be repealed and these curatives be legally available to all.

You never know what people will do.

Mariah's avatar

Hell out of anybody I should be the one saying yeah let’s prevent all suffering we can, but even I have to say no to the question as phrased above. I would rather we risk some disease than surely eliminate all notability.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

YES as far as abnormalities and health issues go!

anniereborn's avatar

Mandatory? No.

cazzie's avatar

Zephyra, what are you going to call abnormalities? Do you know how much tech and art we owe to people who would now be considered ‘abnormal’?

CWOTUS's avatar

Consider all of the vagueness in your question that has to be worked out before this could receive any kind of serious consideration:

1. What is “normal”? How much deviation from a point on a graphed line would be considered “abnormal”?

2. If a normal IQ is 100, and an IQ of 120 is a far enough deviation from 100 to be considered abnormal, then if (assuming it were in some way possible) it could be determined that the abnormally intelligent baby were about to be born, should that be prevented?

3. Now that we’ve established (I hope) that sometimes abnormality is desirable, who gets to decide which deviations from “normal” should be permitted and which prohibited? Do you want to leave that decision – when it comes to your own offspring, for example – in the hands of others who are unanswerable to you?

4. Who will pay for all of the testing that will have to be done? Who will set up (and pay for!) the appeal boards in case a pregnant mother doesn’t agree with the test’s results, or the way the test was administered, or who believes that a tester is somehow prejudiced against her, her mate or her offspring?

5. Do you know any history? Do you realize that this has already been attempted? Does the word “eugenics” mean anything to you? Can you even begin to comprehend where this ends?

6. We already have the technology. It’s called “abortion”. There’s certainly no controversy over that, is there? And consider that forced abortion is just a way point to the wholesale genocide that #5 would lead to.

Jaxk's avatar

Hell we’re already doing it with mandatory immunizations, fluoride in our water, etc. Of course it would be mandatory. All the do-gooders out there would demand it.

cazzie's avatar

Jaxk, there is a difference between health care and messing with the human genome. In fact, the immunisations and health care ensure that more people live to give rise to more offspring, adding to the diversions of our genetic pool.

Pandora's avatar

@CWOTUS I know about Eugenics. But I’m not talking about gene manipulation. But let me explain how I arrived at this question. I was posted two other questions about diseases, and one specifically is what I would call horrendous, Alzheimer disease. I’ve seen what it does to people. So I started thinking how nice it would be if we could eradicate this disease. This led me to thinking it could be nice if we could find a simple solution to make all people genes do what it should normally do. My thinking was if a prevention existed before hand during pregnancy, what mother would not take the prevention.
But then I started thinking of savants and geniuses.There is something different in their DNA that makes them special. There are many writers who are dyslexic. Even many creative comedians, or actors or artist who bi polar. Or diabetes, or sickle cell, or child-hood cancer
So what if this “cure”, prevented that as well? There would be less special people in the world. Some would see this as a great thing but would it actually be great?

I figure people will not care for gene manipulation, but would it be gene manipulation if it is discovered that all of these things start in pregnancy? It’s discovered that random genes change because of a lack of a nutrient or chemical that changes the child’s biology just enough to trigger these ailments or specialness, later in life. But with the right amount of added supplement, the possibility of all of these things are eradicated.

But you don’t become a super race. You just are normal, like millions of people on the planet. Normal IQ, normal health, normal physical body. I mean we can still catch diseases and ailments, but genetic diseases are gone. Not because you manipulated the genes but simply made sure that no genetic abnormalities / differences took place. I’m not saying we would all be stupid either. Just no IQ like 180, no musical savants. No scientist.
As a species. Our brains is what makes us different from other animals. Their brains are limited. But you don’t see animals that are bi polar, or genius animals that can write a novel or make a discovery or suffer from delusions. Sure some are smarter than others of their species but not by huge bounds. Like the child who can learn complicated piano masterpieces despite the fact that no one in the family has ever been musical. Or be born brilliant to simple farmer parents, with no history of any family member ever being brilliant.
So as @cazzie puts it neuro typical

Jak's avatar

There is not one person on this planet qualified to play God. What you are suggesting is in every way abhorrent, and the fact that you don’t seem to realize the enormity of the multiple levels of wrongness is staggering. Even after it has been pointed out to you, you continue to defend why you think your idea is a good one as if you understood nothing. I don’t even want to know why you feel that everybody should all be “normal” and conform to your standards of how people should be. But the fact that you are willing to impose your will on the rest of the world so that you can feel comfortable is a red flag.

cazzie's avatar

but you ARE talking about gene manipulation. Can’t you see that?

Pandora's avatar

@cazzie But then wouldn’t taking any vitamin be gene manipulation? I’m talking about feeding your body the right amount of a already common vitamin or natural nutrient that may not be commonly taken by some people. You are not destroying anything or replacing anything. You are simply helping the dna do what it is normally coded to do. In the same way that if you lack vitamin C, it has been linked to possible brain damage.

cazzie's avatar

Pandora, you are confusing all birth defects and illnesses for gene related illness or deformity. We may, through our lifetime, affect our genes, but that isn’t affecting the DNA in our reproduction. It takes more to affect the genes in our ovum or sperm. Though, oddly enough, there has been studies that show that because sperm is produced continuously through a man’s reproductive years that his health can have a great deal more to do with the health of his sperms DNA because a woman’s eggs are complete and entire when she is born. But it is more difficult to effect DNA than just the taking of a vitamin.

cazzie's avatar

The good news is that we aren’t in any way shape or form considered ‘endangered’ as a species because of what we do with our genes, currently. My point is that if we weed out, from birth, certain traits based on random ideas of ‘normal’ then we limit our genome systematically and that isn’t going to be a good thing if we end up doing it effectively. It has to do with our ability to fight off or adapt to bacteria and viruses or, possibly to adapt to warmer weather, variations in radiation, changes to the air we breathe.

Pandora's avatar

I’m not. I’m just using vitamins as an example of something that would not be invasive. I did say to suspend belief above. If it was something as simple as vitamins, then pregnancy vitamins would’ve taken care of it and only malnourished people would suffer the effects of these disease. The bigger question posed is what would be the consequences? Would getting rid of these diseases be worth it if it meant changing other things? Should it be a choice made by parents or society?

cazzie's avatar

Vitamins are exactly not invasive. And suspending ‘belief’ is not an option when we are talking about science based, evidenced subjects. Then you need to go to ‘social’ and title it ‘science fiction’. There are birth defects that we know are caused by malnutrition, absolutely. And these should be avoided because we have the knowledge and tech to avoid them and they don’t have anything to do with genetics. Harelip and spinabifita are both well known avoidable birth defects that are nutrition related as are a host of issues with iodine.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Is it, or can it be proven that the abnormalities are not some sort of “missing link” to another evolutional plane of human existence? If it can be proven beyond all shadow of doubt it is not just a process of evolution, then women should be made to use corrective measures if it can be detected or determined their child will have some abnormality other than the usual, or accepted norm.

cazzie's avatar

HC, we KNOW that species with more variations in their genome survive through more cataclysmic events. The variation in their offspring means there are some that have better adaptation to survive. Women will and always do what they need to protect wanted offspring. It’s hard-wired in us. But taking measures to limit our genome is simply bad science. Would I undertake micro surgery on my fetus to fix a hole in his heart? Yep. Did I eat well and attend regular health check ups to make sure me and my baby were healthy and on track? Yep. Would I have aborted my fetus before week 19 because they found genetic markers for the ‘possibility’ for the development of certain things that a government or medical group determined were ‘abnormal’? NOPE!

Jaxk's avatar

@cazzie – But what if you could do something simple like maybe drink a glass of quinine water to prevent some hated social defect like conservatism. Would you drink a glass of quinine water a day to prevent that? And would you want that to be mandatory?

cazzie's avatar

Jaxk, you’re missing the point. I would drink a drink, or take a vitamin or eat a certain food to ensure my child was healthy, but that isn’t minimising the genetic make up of the species. There are already things they know that put mother and child at risk and none of it is mandatory where I live. (supposedly a horrible socialist country out to control everything)

It is in America that they are putting women in jail for having miscarriages and putting them on trial for murder.

Jaxk's avatar

@cazzie – I have to give you high marks for creativity but I must have missed all those prison sentences for women that miscarriage. I did hear of one case a couple of years back where a girl that was a heroin addict was told her twins would die if she didn’t stop the heroin. She didn’t and they did. The prosecutor charged her with murder but I never heard whether she was actually prosecuted or not. I guess that’s what happens when you can’t define when the fetus becomes a person. Sometimes it’s murder like with Scott Peterson and somestimes not like with abortions. Make up a definition on the fly.

cazzie's avatar

Jaxk, you’re way off topic now. and if you look further into it, yes, they have changed laws now to prosecute women who have miscarriage. It may look like my imagination, but that is only because of your lack of knowledge. http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/arrested-having-miscarriage-7-appalling-instances-where-pregnant-women-were

cazzie's avatar

The idea that women have domain over their own bodies is ridiculous, but that isn’t the issue here. The issue here is the misunderstanding of the need for biodiversity and differences in our human genome, but those seems to be flying right over the heads of the voices here.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m loathe to demand or require a woman do anything with her body, including what she puts in it, even if it’s just vitamins. It’s a tricky question already, even without some incredible miracle cure for many or all diseases or abnormalities. Let’s say a woman drinks alcohol while pregnant, can she be arrested for it? For harming the fetus? Let’s say there is a miracle drug and she won’t take it, can she be arrested for not taking the drug? Arrested for neglect?

There are diseases I think parents shouldn’t risk. Like CF. If a couple has a child with CF, I don’t understand taking a gamble again. There are ways to not gamble and still have a baby, but they are all invasive and cost money. Would I force a couple to do them? I guess not. I just don’t understand allowing another child to deal with such a difficult illness.

Preventing illnesses like CF or Tay Sachs to me is not “genetic manipulation” or eugenics in the Hitler sense of the word. Although, even preventing disease can be tricky. Sickle cell, a horrible disease, the people who carry that gene seem to resist malaria better. What if CF carriers resist zika better? I made that up, but we never know what bad thing might be good.

Then there are things like Autism, and I think at least part of the spectrum should not be considered abnormal. I think some of our genius scientists are probably on the spectrum. Some forms of mental illnesses might actually serve a purpose.

I thought you might be interested in this link about new Alzheimer’s research and infection. You might remember I am kind of obsessed with underling infection being the catalyst for many diseases, and especially rheumatic/autoimmune disease, and cancers.

JLeslie's avatar

Just thinking a little more. What we could do is make something standard practice, so women are more likely to get the prescription when pregnant, but they still not be forced to take the medicine. Similar to vaccinations.

Zaku's avatar

All “abnormalities”? What would qualify as an abnormality? Not that I would in any case approve of mandatory requirements for all pregnant women.

Seems to me that almost all women who are pregnant or considering it, become about as interested in information and doing the best for their child, as just about any human is ever concerned about anything.

That is, if as you say, ”doctors discovered that the right amount of a certain vitamin or chemical is the cause for children being born either with a physical or mental difference from what is considered normal”, and if “what is considered normal” is something like not having deformities or health problems (and not some wacko subjective nonsense), then I think all you need to do is let the pregnant women know that.

If there are some pregnant women who respond to that information by choosing to do the opposite, then I expect either they have another theory or opinion that deserves consideration, or they are apathetic or resentful about the pregnancy, and probably want psychiatric counseling or possibly an abortion or adoption or something, not to be overpowered by laws.

Making laws to require pregnant women to do the “best” things for their unborn children, seems like a strange thing to do. It also seems like inserting a government in the middle of the relationship between mother and unborn child, which seems like a horrible thing to do – this is also one of the many reasons why I think abortion rights should absolutely be up to the mother.

Another reason I think this sort of proposed law is a horrible idea, is because it’s trying to control and assert authority where it is naturally practically impossible to do so, ultimately, and where doing so will, I think, cause cases of resentment with the potential for far worse impact than what the law might hope to accomplish. That is, if I were a pregnant woman, and I for whatever reason disapproved of the “normalization drug”, or wanted an abortion, and the government told me I couldn’t do as I felt was right, I would resent the heck out of that imposition, and as the mother, there is no way my resentment would not show up in the child’s life in one way or another. For example, for some women, this could include drinking lots of alcohol or other behavior that could cause birth defects, miscarriages, and of course abuse and unhealthy relationships during childhood. So don’t mess with mothers like that – the children will pay for the unwise laws.

All of the above relates to a reasonable, benevolent definition of “normal”. But if the definition is instead ”mental difference, like being a savant, or passionate, or artistic, or violent. Just a normal, absolutely boring person.” then I think the people proposing such a law are Orwellian nightmare zombies, who I’d far rather were eradicated than passionate savants with six toes!

Pandora's avatar

@Zaku Thank you for the great answer.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Great question. Personal opinion it should be available but not mandatory. But why wouldn’t you right? Yes slippery slope…....

JLeslie's avatar

It’s worth noting that it’s believed that if all women took the recommended folic acid during pregnancy (which is most critical the first month of pregnancy unfortunately) it’s believed that spina bifida would decrease by 70%. Iodine also is quite important, but who knows if we Americans are iodine deficient, no one is testing it. Supposedly, it can cause mental retardation and even deafness. I don’t remember what else, there might be new information disproving or adding to that. I think it’s worth looking into since we have so much thyroid dysfunction in America.

@Zaku Just to play devil’s advocate, although I basically agree with your answer, the government does insert itself in parenting. Once the child is born, if a parent neglects or abuses a child, the child might be taken away. The parents could even wind up in jail, although I think that only happens in extreme cases. Does neglect only count after the baby is born?

I’m not talking about a woman’s right to choose to terminate, I’m talking about the woman has chosen to go forward with a pregnancy, the baby will be born, now she is responsible for that life. I could see some people trying to legislate something, even without miracle cures.

Like I said, I’m loathe to make a law that would force any woman to do anything specific during a pregnancy, first because it’s her body, second because government and science and even standard practice change their minds about what it good all the time. What’s good today might be forbidden tomorrow. But, I do see how people can view the fetus as being able to be neglected or abused. I’m pro-choice, but/and I also really care about what type of life the new person is going to have.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I guess one way is to live healthy, no illict drugs,no alcohol, no bad lifestyle that could even in the smallest way endanger the health of a fetus.
Get genetic testing,check the medical historyies of parents,grandparents etc that may have any effects on the life of an unborn.

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