Monday, October 18, 2010

Who gets to be a parent?

As a teacher, I get to meet a LOT of parents. Some are incredible. Some are dire. It never ceases to amaze me that, in a world where there are such stringent requirements for people wanting to adopt pets from vets and other organisations that rescue animals, or for people wanting to adopt a child, there are no rules when it comes to who may give birth to a child.

Sometimes, in the staff room, we joke about enforced sterilisation, with we teachers as the deciders of who should be sterilised. It is only a joke, and we know that, but there is an element of honesty and truth in it. We see kids who are repeating the negative cycles their parents and grandparents have repeated. We know that if these kids have kids of their own, the cycle will be repeated once again.

As a Christian, I also know that there is hope for these people, because I believe that Jesus makes a difference. But what happens to them if they don't find Jesus before they have kids???

I was thus very interested to read this morning that there is a project that PAYS people to be voluntarily sterilised. Not just any people either - drug addicts. It's interesting because those who are using when they fall pregnant usually give birth to addicts, and those poor babies have to go through withdrawal cold turkey. Many do not survive. Those who do are often permanently damaged.

Of course, this is still voluntary. However, this is only a few short steps away from being an enforced strategy. Imagine a world in which, if you are found to be a regular user, you could be forcibly sterilised.

While I see the benefits, such a world also shocks me. I'm not sure I would be happy to live in such a world. While I believe in saving the innocent, I also believe in freedom and free will, even when that free will impinges on the rights and freedoms of others. It's finding the balance between the two that is crucial.

For the moment, this project is on the correct side of that line, I believe, but it's right up there, and I'd hate to see someone step over onto the other side.
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