Free Market Reproduction


• Read the entire Scenario
• Compose reflection paper and address the following questions:
o Why do you feel the way you do about the issue presented?
o Of the four responses offered in the scenario, which do you feel is the most ethical and why? – See last page for my response. Please do not include the paragraph, but instead rewrite it.

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• Support your conclusions with evidence and specific examples from textbook, as well as other sources as needed.
• Reflection must be 1-2 pages in length and follow 7th edition APA format

Annual Ethics Symposium Scenario: Debating Free Market Reproduction
Speakers: Dr Hao Nguyen and Dr Gwen Reynolds.

Moderator: A free market brings buyers and sellers together based on supply and demand for various products. It is an economic mechanism, and neutral one. However, the results of marketplace consumerism are not always neutral. The societal impacts of a free market depend upon the ethics that allow or prohibit buying and selling various commodities. Take the sale of ivory, for example, if ivory is bought and sold freely, the demand for ivory will result in the slaughter of thousands of elephants for their tusks. If we find that practice unethical, we can prohibit ivory sales, which will make it more difficult to buy and sell ivory and send a clear message about the ethics of ivory sales. The same is true or marketable items in any field. If we condone the presence of reproductive commodities on the market, the market will respond and provide buyers with options. If we prohibit sales, that also sends a message about the ethics.

We will begin with Dr Nguyen.

Dr Nguyen: The free market is not an appropriate tool for advancing an agenda, and it will not work as one. It is neutral with regard to reproductive rights. Should we meddle with one system in order to address ethics issues in a separate, unrelated system? The market will behave as it behaves, for better or worse.

Dr Reynolds: You speak as though the market is entirely beyond control, but that is not the case. We can prohibit or restrict the sale of reproductive commodities such as sperm and eggs. And though the market itself is neutral, it can be both harmful and beneficial to society. If cedar wood becomes trendy in home design and decorating, cedar trees may be cut down too quickly to allow areas to recover and regrow. The demand for cedar wood would be directly to blame for the destruction of cedar trees, even if the market itself merely facilitates buying and selling the commodity.

Question from the audience: Can you give us an example of a technology that utilizes the commodities we’re talking about?

Dr Nguyen: Most of these technologies address infertility. The most common is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which was first offered in USA in 1981. It resulted in the birth or more than 500,000 children between the years of 1985 to 2006. A woman takes fertility drugs to increase her production of eggs, and then a physician retrieves those eggs. Then sperm is mixed with the eggs and fertilization may take place.
Question from the audience: Where does the problem arise with the commodities we’re talking about?

Dr Reynolds: Assisted reproduction sometimes requires the use of sperm, eggs, or wombs from third parties who are not expected to play role in raising the resulting children. When third parties become involved and are paid for their time and resources, ethical issues may arise. Also, the costs of these technologies are often prohibitive. Poorer couples dealing with infertility do not have the same options as well to-do couples.

Dr Nguyen: So do you propose that we use the free market as an arbiter for ethics based soley on prohibitions and stamps of approval? The market as an economic mechanism was not designed for such arbitrations. It will not serve well in that capacity. We risk losing a human element when we depend on an impartial process to further an ethical goal.

Dr Reynolds: The impartiality can work to our advantage. Human beings are still the arbiters; we are simply utilizing an established means to facilitate commerce. For example, we may want to prohibit human cloning, but to encourage in vitro fertilization. We can accomplish both through market regulation. We state cloning dangers by prohibition, whereas subsidies are given to in vitro fertilization, which would amount to that stamp of approval you mention. Both send strong signals, and the market stays the same, already in place, offering choices or blocking access.

Considering these responses, choose the one you believe to be the most ethical.

My response: Dr Reynolds is right. The market is free of bias, but we present our own biases through the demand and supply that keep the market alive. While we are not looking to change the fundamental mechanism of free market, we can certainly impose or ease restrictions, which amount to imposing desired ethics. This is not new; we are simply acknowledging the market as a means to express ethical decisions. For more information on Free Market Reproduction see this:

Free Market Reproduction

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