For six excellent games to recap or revise based on ContentGenerator go to:
For an excellent introduction of the key issues / ethical implications / case studies go to:
For a very useful exercise on six case studies with ideas about how to fill in the diagram:
For a lesson plan based on the film My Sister's Keeper go to:
Exercise - situation ethics and right to a child
Case study - the case of Baby M
For a fee of $10,000, a woman agrees to be artificially inseminated with the semen of another woman’s husband; she is to conceive a child, carry it to term, and after its birth surrender it to the natural father and his wife. The intent of the contract is that the child’s natural mother will thereafter be forever separated from her child. The wife is to adopt the child, and she and the natural father are to be regarded as its parents for all purposes. The contract providing for this is called a “surrogacy contract,” the natural mother inappropriately called the “surrogate mother.”
Stem cell research
For video clips with Christians discussing IVF treatment (episodes 234-240):Add a comment
LESSON PLAN: Embryo research and right to a child
– 1 hour 10mins
Computer with projector
Munch’s Scream image projected
You tube film (below) ready to stream
Photocopied sheets (below)
PART 1 (25 minutes) Thinking with feelings
Gut reaction: what comes to mind when you see this image in relation to the whole debate concerning abortion, IVF, the right to a child and even genetic engineering............. look carefully at it and then just go with your gut...
Now chose two or more of the following and write what they might be saying if they were in the picture:
PART 2: ‘Rights’ and the right to a child – introduction (20 minutes)
There are many questions hidden in the text below – go through, read and answer when you spot a question.
The issue of rights has been debated throughout Western philosophical tradition, from the rights of the state in Plato’s Republic, through to the work of Thomas Hobbes and up to modern day thinkers such as Rawls and Nussbaum. The following piece of work asks you to think about what is meant by the term ‘right’, especially in relation to the term ‘a right to a child’.
Think carefully about this phrase: the right to a child
How is the word right being used in that phrase? For example, is it the same as saying that I have a statutory right to exchange a bag of crisps if I open them and find that they do not taste good?
Is the word ‘right’ in the phrase ‘a right to a child’ being used in the same way as it is used in the phrase ‘a right to a fair trial’?
The above two questions could be seen as an adaptation of the via negativa approach, where we get closer to the definition of something by saying what it isn’t. So, when we use the phrase right to a child, do we mean it in the statutory sense or the legal sense, or is there something more than that? Is there such a thing as a moral right? Or, do all women have a human right to have a child? (And, be careful here, it is not just the right to a child, as that could mean that a woman could adopt or foster parent; what is meant here is the right to her child, or something that bears some of her genetic identity).
So, if a hospital would have an obligation to treat an alcoholic who turns up in accident and emergency and who needed an immediate and costly operation, does the National Health Service have a moral obligation to provide a woman (tax payer – does it matter if she pays tax, or is a British citizen?) with the opportunity to have a child? Do her ‘rights’ mean there are obligations to her (the French 20th Century philosopher Simone Weil argues that obligations come before rights)? Are these rights irrespective of what sort of character and history the woman has? If that is the case, where do these rights stem from? Law? Civil equality? The Judaic-Christian heritage of this country?
Thinking further, there are other issues here: does a woman/couple have a right to a certain type of child? Does a woman have the right to choose a certain quality of life for her child, ie to choose embryos that do not carry a certain genetic inheritance? Does this extend to the right to choose the gender of the child? Does this include the right to choose that a child is gay or straight, or has a certain level of intelligence? So, when we say ‘right to a child’, is it any sort of child that we mean? Should a woman who has had three rounds of IVF accept having a disabled child? Does she have the right to abort the foetus if complications arise in the pregnancy, a pregnancy resulting after the third round of IVF? And with regard to genetic engineering, does a woman/couple have the right to change the future genetic identity of offspring (germ line cell therapy), or do we only have the right to change our own genetic make-up (somatic cell therapy)? Does a foetus have rights? If so, are those rights intrinsic or due to its extrinsic possibilities? Does the mother have more rights than the foetus? Why? Why not?
(Bear in mind that the above has not begun to consider what the various ethical theories suggest with regard to this question of rights).
AS Exam style question: a) Explain what is meant by the phrase 'right to a child’. b) ‘A child is a gift not a right.’ Discuss
PART 3: Reviewing the facts (25 minutes)
This excellent US video goes into detail about infertility and different treatments. 6m women have problems conceiving in the USA, in the UK it is 14% of women. In this film a clinician expresses the view that “infertility is a disease”.
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At what point should pre-embryos/embryos be considered to have human rights? Is "creating", discarding, freezing, or manipulating them morally right?
Pope Benedict XVI stated in June 2006,
" The human being has the right to be generated, not produced, to come to life not in virtue of an artificial process but of a human act in the full sense of the term: the union between a man and a woman".
Who should decide what is appropriate in IVF? Politicians? The Church? Scientists?
Should single women be allowed access to IVF in order to have children? Is there a need for a father? Should homosexual male or female couples be allowed access to IVF treatment in order to have children?
UK MPs (June 2006) have called for an end to the right of fertility clinics to refuse treatment to single women and lesbians. The debate was triggered by the Commons science and technology committee report in 2005 on the issue, who described the current rules regarding unconventional families as "offensive".
Is it responsible to allow so many multiple pregnancies or reductions due to IVF treatment?
UK law now tries to limit this and only permits a maximum of 2 embryos to be transferred except in very special circumstances.
Who should be responsible for funding IVF? Patients? Insurance companies? Healthcare systems?
How long should embryos be allowed to be frozen? If they go past that time should they be destroyed? Should frozen embryos be destroyed if patients stop paying the storage fees?
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).
PGD is used to test embryos prior to transfer into the uterus. Part of the embryo is used for this procedure and is removed from the embryo. This selection of "healthy" embryos is sometimes referred to in news articles as "Designer Embryos". So should PGD be used at all?
Should PGD be used only for detecting very serious, life threatening conditions and not for minor genetic abnormalities?
This is the current advise of the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority, UK.
Is it OK to genetically select an embryo which would be a near perfect match for a sibling with a life threatening disorder?
Should PGD be only available to those who can afford it?
Is sex selection wrong? Is selecting embryos with certain traits or characteristics wrong?
Cloning and Stem cells
Is there ever a case where human reproductive cloning is acceptable? The production of a new life? Replacing a dead child?
Is it OK to use cloning technology to create stem cells (therapeutic cloning) to help cure disease?
Should cloning research be regulated? Who should police it? Can this be achieved on a global basis?
If potential parents can only have a child through cloning do they have that right?
What are the physical and psychosocial consequences of cloning on the child? What is the impact on familial and societal relations? What will be the potential effects on the human gene pool?Add a comment