Genetics

Child’s right to have both parents

I am always fascinated by cruel objectivity of science. I firmly believe that pure science must not be subjected to moral or humane scrutiny as we need to know the truth without tainting it with our biases. But, same may not be true when it comes to technology, as the application of science must remain aligned with greater good of humanity.

Journey of science has unveiled two grand natural structures, nucleus of the atom and DNA in a cell, each having power to open the doors of heaven or hell, depending upon how we apply our knowledge about them. Atomic power has been debated a lot in public space and is thus under constant scrutiny, but the power of DNA is still not fully cognized, making it a potential threat that needs urgent attention.

The news that an actor has opted for a surrogate child provides me with an opportunity to explore the subject from a perspective that is missed while celebrating the joy of parenthood bestowed upon the actor by technology.

Preference for becoming a single parent is a byproduct of the emerging liberated notions about of freedom of personal choice and the right to parenthood regardless of marital status. When it is done through the route of adoption, it is surely an act of kindness that helps an orphan child find a home; but, with arrival of surrogacy option, we now have a new breed of single parents, who are busy individuals exercising their biological franchise of having a child because they can financially afford it.

This idea has found acceptance because we all relate to the biological need of being a parent. Right to parenthood is universal and no one must be denied that right and pleasure; but, while Mr. Kapoor enjoys his fundamental right of becoming a parent, another fundamental right is overlooked, i.e. right of a child to have both parents.

Technology has provided Mr. Kapoor with a son, but it has robbed little child of his biologically and rightfully due mother. This case shows that we have still not thought the surrogacy issue through. It is a technological innovation that requires scrutiny from human perspective.

The most crucial point gone missing here is that we may have developed technology to produce a motherless child but our biological evolution has surely not kept the pace in providing that child with a brain that won’t need a mother. However liberated our thinking may get; mother is a biological necessity for a child’s brain to develop without trauma. And when it is a matter of choice, using technology for removing mother from a child’s life is an act of cruelty as it is bound to cause a lot of misery later in its life.

With access to the DNA machinery, we are now embarking into an era of deep ethical issues about what is life and how far it should be tweaked. In this turbulent phase, it is extremely critical for us be aware that our ability to play with fundamental forces of life is not making us immune to the evolutionary catastrophes they may bring.

For me, the curious case of Kapoor and son has a simple message. Let us not play with nature when it is not really required. Surrogacy may be used as a curative option for a childless couple, but surely not to satisfy the biological urge of a man or a woman just because they can afford it. There is nothing more fundamental than right of a child to have a childhood nurtured by both parents. Let us not allow technology to take it away.

DNA: 3/7/16

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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