The morality of consanguinamorous reproduction

Ok guys, a while back I wrote an article called whether to have kids and how. In that article I outlined what reproductive choices are available to people and the pros and cons of each option. That said, there has been a bit of a debate on the forums about the morality of consang couples actually having genetic children of their own. I’m writing this article to explore different points of view. As always there is no simple answer to questions like these and it is for individuals to decide what is right for them. The very last thing we need to do is pour judgement upon each other on sensitive issues like this. God knows, we get enough of that shit from the rest of the world.

On what do we base our morality? This is a good question, and for many people there are multiple sources: society, religion, personal feelings, opinions of friends and family…etc. All of these things shape our perceptions of what is acceptable and what is not. However, since our community already bucks the status quo on what is considered moral and immoral, for us there must be something extra, some other source of morality. These sources are logic, compassion and empathy, they exist independantly of any of the above, and actually throws up some surprising results. Not just about this topic but about any other you wish to analyze.

Simply stated, for something to be considered immoral, it must necessarily cause avoidable harm to another human being. This harm need not be physical, it can be financial, mental or spiritual in nature. Our empathy and compassion tells us that harming other people is wrong, because we would not want this kind of thing done to ourselves.

So what does this have to do with reproduction by consanguinamory? Plenty, as you will soon see. Lets imagine a hypothetical boy called Steve, he is 8 years old and has a learning disability, and his parents are brother and sister. He is generally a happy child and is otherwise healthy.

Is it his parents fault that he is has a learning disability?

Steve could not be any different than he is. If his mother had conceived through a sperm bank or with another man in a different relationship, then Steve would never have been born, she would have given birth to a completely different person. This line of reasoning throws up another question.

Would it have been better for Steve if he had never been born?

Since he is in otherwise good health, and is a happy child… obviously not. His quality of life is good, even though he sometimes gets frustrated when he does not understand something.

Since we can determine that it is NOT better off for Steve to have never been born, we can also determine that he was not harmed by the fact of his conception.

Is it immoral to have a disabled child when such could have been prevented or at least the risks reduced?

While no pregnancies are risk-free, children born of incest are at a slightly elevated risk of having a disability. We must be honest here and take this question into serious consideration.

The only way for anybody to be 100% certain of not bringing a disabled child into the world is never having children. We also have to consider the morality of ANYONE at elevated risks having a child. For instance, if we were to determine that relatives should not reproduce because of the increased risk, then is it similarly immoral for a woman over 40 to get pregnant, or for a family where both husband and wife carry the genes for Tay Sachs or Huntingtons Disease? Some people would argue yes, however I disagree.

Is it morally okay to restrict peoples freedom of choice?

Undoubtedly, SOME restrictions on personal freedom are necessary to make the world a safer place. A good example of this would be the speed limit in residential areas, because a car racing around a housing estate at 60mph could potentially kill somebody. The minor inconvenience of arriving home slower than one would like is a small price to pay for communal safety.

That said, some restrictions on our freedoms aren’t so cut and dry as this. One of those freedoms is sexual and reproductive autonomy. What we should not do is go purely by logic and cut out the complexities of emotion and human relationships, to do so would be a denial of our humanity.

Firstly, and this is to make it extremely clear: Having sex and having a baby are two very different things, one may lead to the other, but certainly not always or even usually. Some couples cannot reproduce regardless of how much sex they may have, this would include homosexual relationships, relationships including women who are post menopausal, where a medical condition or medication prevents the possibility of a pregnancy…etc. Even in relationships where a pregnancy COULD happen, oftentimes it does not. Many people citing mutant babies as a reason to deny us our rights conveniently forget the highly effective and readily available forms of contraception available. Unless there is a medical reason not to, the contraceptive pill is a very good choice. So citing mutant babies as a reason to deny people the right of sexual autonomy is really a very bad argument indeed.

Another argument put forward is that the resulting child would end up being bullied because he or she was the product of incest. Yet this argument also falls flat on it’s face: the problem is that there are bullies who are not being appropriately reprimanded, not that the bullied child exists in the first place! Remove the stigma and deal with the bullies, don’t dare tell people that they can’t have kids because some other peoples kids are out of control! What sort of backwards argument is that anyway? Do we, as civillized human beings, cower down to such bullshit, or do we stand up and say that enough is enough? You cannot blame a consang couple for the fact that their child is being bullied, you place the blame where it belongs, with the bullies who are actually doing it. To do anything else is really a form of victim blaming, and that is never acceptable.

restricting peoples freedom based on harm which MIGHT occur, or on other peoples reactions to such freedom being exercised is a road to nowhere. It’s despotic, authoritarian and arbitrary, it is also hate and fear masquerading as social concen and science. It is not legitimate.

In all instances, freedom of choice is a precious thing which should be protected and defended to the utmost. If you are not allowed to choose the partner you want, and whether or not you want children, then can you really believe that you are a free person? I say not. I am not saying everyone must agree with everyone elses choices in life, that would be ridiculous, however they must agree that people should be free to make those choices. Restricting such freedom is highly immoral and is actually suppressing genuine diversity. It is up to each person to weigh up the pros and cons of any choice for themselves, they do not need a nanny state to make such choices for them. We are not children, and we will not be treated as such by our own governments.