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Should We Be Allowed to Choose the Sexual Orientation of Our Children?
PS MAg (Pacific Standard) ^ | October 17, 2013 | Alice Dreger

Posted on 10/20/2013 3:50:56 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o

[Imagine a prenatal test that, like the one for trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome), could show a predisposition to gayness.]

In a New York magazine piece, “The Science of Gaydar,” writer David France looks at the growing scientific evidence for innate differences between gay and straight people. France ends by gazing toward the future, and asks the question, “What if prenatal tests were able to show a predisposition to gayness?” Well, France reports, “[Northwestern University psychological professor] Michael Bailey, for one, isn’t troubled by the moral implications any more than he would oppose fetal screens for potential birth defects, though he quickly adds his personal belief that homosexuality is ‘a good’ on par with heterosexuality.”

Bailey espouses a definite Seinfeldian “not that there’s anything wrong with that” attitude toward homosexuality. In a paper he published on the subject with lawyer Aaron Greenberg in 2001, he wrote: “Because homosexuality causes no direct harm to others (other than those who take offense at it on irrational and/or inhumane grounds) and because homosexual behavior is crucial to the ability of homosexual people to enjoy their lives (as heterosexual behavior is to heterosexuals), homosexuality should not be morally condemned or proscribed.” But, Greenberg and Bailey say, it’s wrong to tell parents they can’t select for (or against) a heterosexual or homosexual predisposition in their children.

Greenberg and Bailey take a libertarian view of the matter—they believe the right of parents to make these kinds of decisions is paramount, “even assuming, as we do, that homosexuality is entirely acceptable morally.” Their point is that, “allowing parents, by means morally unproblematic in themselves, to select for heterosexuality would be morally acceptable” because “allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further parents’ freedom to raise the sort of children they wish to raise and because selection for heterosexuality may benefit parents and children and is unlikely to cause significant harm.” It ought to be the case that defending the rights of parents to use this technology doesn’t ultimately undermine queer rights, but it seems hard to believe that in practice it won’t lead to support of the idea that one ought to try not to have a gay child.

Greenberg and Bailey’s paper is quite interesting—interesting enough that, when my class of smart, thoughtful, and generally progressive Medical Humanities and Bioethics masters students discussed it with the authors earlier this year, many of the students who began in agreement with the paper ended up disagreeing with it, and vice versa. I admit I wavered, but I didn’t ultimately flip; I started with, and still have, several problems with the paper.

The first is, I suppose, a general problem I have with libertarianism: It’s selfish. And I don’t like selfish philosophies. (I guess I’m selfish that way.) Greenberg and Bailey seem to assume that the larger social effects of individual decisions like the ones they are supporting are not really a pertinent moral issue, because we should just take care of our own individual needs, the neighbors be damned. What happens to gay strangers once we offer “selection” against more people like them is not the issue when I’m deciding whether to professionally justify or even personally use this theoretic technology—unless that happens to be what I feel like troubling myself about. Greenberg and Bailey just don’t spend much energy worrying actively (in their paper or in follow-up discussions) about what effect defending the right to use this technology could have on queer people and their rights.

Now, to be fair, they may not worry about that in part because they just disagree with me that they are effectively undermining queer people and their rights by arguing that this technology would be morally acceptable. In an email to a sex research discussion group, Bailey argued against me: “I think it is possible both to support the message that homosexual people are as good as heterosexual people and to support parents' freedom to disagree with that message and to act on their disagreement.” But I think he’s naïve here.

Sure, it ought to be the case that defending the rights of parents to use this technology doesn’t ultimately undermine queer rights, but it seems hard to believe that in practice it won’t lead to support of the idea that one ought to try not to have a gay child—just as in practice the prenatal test for trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome) has led to a general attitude (at least among the vast majority of my very “progressive” childbearing acquaintances) that one ought to try not to have a child with trisomy 21. I have a friend whose young son has trisomy 21. This friend was out and about with her son one day when another woman looked at her and her son and—recognizing that the son has Down's syndrome—scolded my friend with the question, “Didn’t you get the test?!” I can fully imagine a scenario where, 30 years from now, a woman tells a friend her son has come out as gay, only to have the friend respond, “Didn’t you get the test?!” Could we really imagine that offering such a test would have no negative impact on how an already-homophobic culture views people who are gay (and their parents, for that matter)? In that sense, can we really imagine that supporting parents’ right to choose against homosexuality supports the message that gay people are as good as straight people?

Had Greenberg and Bailey bothered to look at the substantial literature on prenatal testing and disability rights, I think they might have been less sanguine in their assumptions about the social meaning of prenatal testing for conditions that typically become identities. They might have understood something more about the social model of disability, and how being gay could easily be construed as a disability—except, as it turns out, one that has already been explicitly excluded by the Americans With Disability Act.

Now, I should note that, because they maintain a “not that there’s anything wrong with that” stance—and, knowing them, I really do believe they are both fully comfortable with and supportive of queer people—Greenberg and Bailey argue that it would also be fine for would-be parents to use such technologies to choose predisposition for homosexuality over predisposition for heterosexuality. And, indeed, I can imagine some parents making that choice—gay parents and even some straight people like myself. (I’d be happy to have more gay people in the world, because I think it would further advance gay rights, and I’ve always thought I’d make a much better mother-in-law to a gay man than the alternatives.) But let’s get real: Most of the choices made in such circumstances would likely be against homosexuality, just as most choices about congenital deafness and trisomy 21 and achondroplasia turn out to be against, not for. You can argue that homosexuality is different than these conditions because it doesn’t “harm” the child, but many people have the same sorts of non-evidence-based fears about the “harm” a child will face from being gay as they have about the “harm” that will come to a child from being deaf or having trisomy 21 or achondroplasia (more ways in which homosexuality starts to look like disability). Moreover, can you really, in this culture, treat homosexuality as a preventable genetic condition and not expect people to see it as … a preventable genetic condition?

Thus, while I think Greenberg and Bailey are right in generally defending would-be parents’ rights to choose reproductive technologies, I also can’t help but suspect that their vigorous defense of this option at some level feels like (apparently unwittingly) enabling homophobic bigotry. Certainly I defend Greenberg and Bailey’s right to say what they want, and to think what they want, but I think it is tough for them to claim they’re not potentially contributing to an undermining of queer rights.

In France’s article, Bailey is quoted as saying, “There’s no reason to ban, or become hysterical about, selecting for heterosexuality. … That’s precisely what parenting is about: shaping the children to have traits the parents value.” I find I side with Simon LeVay, a gay sex researcher who has, like Bailey, long been studying the biological origins of sexual orientation, and who shared his views with me in an email: “I agree with Mike that we shouldn't ban it. Because that would be allowing governments to make decisions about our reproductive choices, which isn't a good idea…. But I reserve the right to become hysterical about it.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: downs; gaydar; homosexualagenda; lgbt; moralabsolutes; murder
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Oh, what to do, what to do? ?

LGBT rights= don't try to kill off the sexually deviant,


Abortion rights = go ahead, kill them off.

Author comes down in favor of the liberty to target potentially gay babies for a good killin', but somehow she doesn't quite like that.

All prolifers believe in the right to life of even the gay, disoriented, dizzy and twisty-tailed-around, but "prochoice feminists" would say it's OK to kill 'em all.

How progressive is that?

1 posted on 10/20/2013 3:50:56 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
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To: Mrs. Don-o

A discussion that starts with an impossible premise reveals a lot about the people discussing it, but doesn’t generate much light in terms of usable ethics.

Remember “If it could be proved that Mary had other children ...”?

2 posted on 10/20/2013 3:55:19 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("The heart of the matter is God's love. It always has been. It always will be."~Abp. Chaput)
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To: Mrs. Don-o


3 posted on 10/20/2013 3:55:35 PM PDT by madison10
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To: Mrs. Don-o

“belief that homosexuality is ‘a good’ on par with heterosexuality.”

Insane reasoning. Earlier death, no reproduction, alcoholism, drug use, suicide, abuse, incontinence.

“because homosexual behavior is crucial to the ability of homosexual people to enjoy their lives”

Pedophiles feel that way about having sex with children. Alcoholics feel the same way about getting wasted every night.

You know, there was a time when the default wasn’t “you must do everything you can to enjoy life.” It used to be “you must to everything to be virtuous and righteous, even if it means sacrifice”

4 posted on 10/20/2013 3:58:01 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Why women have a right to sex-selective abortion

Why women have a right to sex-selective abortion
The Guardian ^ | 9/19/2013 | Sarah Ditum

Posted on 09/19/2013 10:46:50 AM PDT by mojito

When you talk about being pro-choice, sex selective abortion is often slung at you as the triumphant gotcha. "You love women so much you want them to be in charge of what grows inside their bodies, but what about the women who are aborted, have a go at answering that? ZING!"

The answer is actually remarkably simple, and it's this: it doesn't matter whether what's growing inside you is liable to end up as a man or a woman. What matters is whether the person it's growing inside – the person who is going to have to deliver the resulting baby, at not inconsiderable personal peril – actually wants to be pregnant and give birth to this child. In a world where it's possible to end a pregnancy safely and legally, it seems like rank brutality to force anyone to carry to term against her will.

And as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter why any woman wants to end her pregnancy. As the conscious and legally competent entity in the conception set-up, it's the woman's say that counts, and even the most terrible reason for having an abortion holds more sway than the best imaginable reason for compelling a woman to carry to term.

5 posted on 10/20/2013 3:58:37 PM PDT by Lonely Bull
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To: Mrs. Don-o

In their private lives, parents will de-select homosexuality.

If we can actually identify the “gay gene” we can eliminate it.

Ain’t life ironic?

6 posted on 10/20/2013 4:00:06 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Fight Tapinophobia in all its forms! Do not submit to arduus privilege.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Question in liberal speak...

Why should you get to have the child of your choice.
Wouldn’t it be more fair to deliver them all in to a
government cheche and then they are redistributed
randomly to give each an equal chance?


7 posted on 10/20/2013 4:04:01 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: freedumb2003

In real life, gay activists will consider the existence of a prenatal gay test as being a hate crime, will make life hell for any researcher attempting to come up with such a test, and will torch any lab daring to process such a test.

8 posted on 10/20/2013 4:06:13 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

No. Look at China and their one child policy.

9 posted on 10/20/2013 4:10:35 PM PDT by Fungi
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I’ve often wondered how the left would react if the following two conditions were met:

-Proof of a genetic cause for homosexuality (and all the variations related to it);

-A woman decided to abort the child based upon that genetic evidence.

If the article above is any indicator, my suspicions would likely turn out to be correct. That is, the far left and their LGBT allies would probably start screaming that “orientation-based abortions” were discriminatory and human rights violations. The media would follow up with “outrage” and anyone who went on record for having an abortion for that reason would become a pariah (unlike the likes of Gloria Steinem and Whoopi Goldberg, who had “necessary” abortions, to use the language of the far left).

10 posted on 10/20/2013 4:11:03 PM PDT by DemforBush (Of all the Thompson gunners, Roland was the best.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o



11 posted on 10/20/2013 4:11:29 PM PDT by struggle
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To: Mrs. Don-o

You have to think that if abortion is indeed the left’s sacrament, then the pro-homosexual tendency gene testers will win. More abortion is more abortion. It will still be one heck of a fight, if it ever happens.

Not a good sign for those with some sort of hypothetical homosexual genetic predisposition syndrome, you don’t see many little people or down syndrome kids around much, like this witch says. In any case, if the hypothetical genetic selector only gives a predisposition to homosexuality, there will still always be those that were cleared who turn out gay.

Eventually they might solve the impasse by being able to manipulate the genes, giving the ability to assign sex attraction to order. Then they could ensure a 100% chance of same-sex attraction.


12 posted on 10/20/2013 4:18:40 PM PDT by Ransomed
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Actually parents DO pick the sexual orientation of their children. They can provide a stable home with love, discipline and learning to have a normal child.

Or they can have a model leftists household and screw the child up.

13 posted on 10/20/2013 4:28:52 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: driftdiver

Best answer of the day.

14 posted on 10/20/2013 4:31:37 PM PDT by kempster
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To: Mrs. Don-o

There is only one sexual orientation, NATURAL!

15 posted on 10/20/2013 4:34:00 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: Ransomed

There is no genetic element to deviance.

Sin is sin.

16 posted on 10/20/2013 4:35:52 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: driftdiver; kempster

I agree with the sentiment behind this, but the fact is that you can have a family with ten children, all but one turn out decent, and that kid will be problematic.

It doesn’t matter if it’s drugs, stealing, capital crimes, or something like homosexuality. It’s impossible to tell why so many kids turn out great, and a few don’t growing up in the same family environment.

17 posted on 10/20/2013 4:37:26 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (People will retain the power to control the Government, or it will retain the power to control them.)
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To: madison10

What a great way to screw up a kid.

Kids already have way too much pressure on them as it is. And when would parents decide to “change the sex” of their child? When the reach puberty? Way before puberty?

There are tomboy girls and effeminate boys. When both are mature adults, both like the opposite sex and are very happy.

Gays never seem to be happy or satisfied anyway. I has little to do with perceived discrimination. And people who have sex change operations don't seem to be happy either.

18 posted on 10/20/2013 4:38:23 PM PDT by dhs12345
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Choosing kid’s sex —

One major flaw.

We pick, from in utero information. But this is chromosome based.

What if the chosen boy (or girl), after being born says he/she is a girl (or boy)???

And, what if the parent wants to choose a kid who will be a transgender?

... or ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or ... etc.....

I am confused, and incapable of understanding all the ramifications of this.

It is a good thing that the ACA will improve health care to the point that this will all be predictable, and kids will all be the sex (or deviant) desired by both the parents and the kids themselves!

19 posted on 10/20/2013 4:49:31 PM PDT by Scrambler Bob ( Concerning bo -- that refers to the president. If I capitalize it, I mean the dog.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I don’t think that will happen.

We are all sinners, so we are all pre-disposed to sin.

Homosexual BEHAVIOR is a choice.

20 posted on 10/20/2013 4:50:03 PM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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