Dilemmas in My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Topics: Kidney, Bioethics, Ethics Pages: 7 (2756 words) Published: October 30, 2008
PHI 111 Final Paper: Dilemmas in My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The novel “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult explores the medical, legal, ethical and moral issues related to long term illness and discusses some of the bioethical issues around the experimental technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The author presents many ethical dilemmas when a couple chooses to genetically engineer a baby to create a bone marrow match for their terminally ill daughter. That creation is Anna Fitzgerald, who is beginning to wonder about her place in the world and questions her on going donations in order to save her sister’s, Kate’s life. Anna feels that her existence is defined by her ability to save her sister. That type of knowledge of such form of conception must have some sort of psychological ramifications upon a growing child. If I knew that I was a test tube baby, it would make living a little less extraordinary because it takes away the romance of creating life. Anna lashes back at her parents who conceived her out of desperation by suing them for medical emancipation, which are medical rights over your own body. She wants the right to be able to say no to invasive medical procedures, even if it might mean the death of her sister. The author tackles genetic engineering by posing a question: If you use one of your children to save the life of another are you being a good or bad parent? The dilemma here is if you use your child to save the life of an older sibling then you are not being a good parent, if you do not genetically engineer a saviour sibling then the older sibling will die. Either use your child to save a life or do not. So either the older sibling lives or dies. This paper will explore this moral dilemma, using the issues presented in “My Sister’s Keeper”, by Jodi Picoult. Firstly, being a donor sibling affects relationships with other members of the family and the best interests of the child. Secondly, the welfare and consent of the ongoing use of such children as donors can become the deciding factor of life for the child being saved. Lastly, knowing one is a saviour sibling affects the child’s experience of life, and their social and psychological development.

The first bioethical issue is whether or not in vitro fertilization (IVF) of an embryo for the use of saving a life, is in the best interest of the child being born. The novel “My Sister’s Keeper” examines whether or not it is in Anna Fitzgerald’s best interests to be born as a life saver for her sister Kate. It is arguably in any child’s best interest to be born rather then not being born, and a Utilitarian would say that Anna being born is doing the greatest good for the greatest number because it would benefit Kate and the family. To conceive a child by IVF in order to meet specific genetic requirements is unethical unless its purpose is to save a life. There is a moral difference between selecting for socially desirable traits like blue eyes and blonde hair, and selecting for medically desirable ones. Anna was genetically engineered as a perfect donor match for her older sister Kate. “We thought it might be a good idea to see if another sibling of Kate’s matched up. The reporter asked, another sibling who doesn’t exist? Not yet Brian replies. What made you turn to a geneticist? Time constraints Brian answered. People seem to think that we’re trying to make a designer baby. Aren’t you? We didn’t ask for a baby with blue eyes, or one that would grow to be six feet tall, or one that would have an IQ of two hundred. Sure, we asked for specific characteristics-but they’re not anything anyone would ever consider to be model human traits. They’re just Kate’s traits. We don’t want a superbaby; we just want to save our daughter’s life”. (Pg 102-103). On television Brian denies that he and Sara are trying to have a designer baby because Anna is alive because she can save her sibling’s life. I agree with Brian that there is a moral...
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