Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Questions On AIDS, Medicine, & Gay Rights Versus Parental Rights

Two interesting issues in the news recently. One. should a Turkish pop singer with HIV who knowingly had unprotected sex with others and without informing them of her illness be sent to jail? Two, should the treatment for a genetic malformation which, while making surgery unnecessary, also reduces the possiblity that the female infant will grow up to become a lesbian be allowed? Should gay rights trump parental rights and the best interests of the child?

In the first case, this from the BBC:

A singer from German girl band No Angels has admitted to having unprotected sex with several partners without warning them she was HIV-positive.

Nadja Benaissa, 28, was speaking at the opening of her trial in the German city of Darmstadt. . . .

She faces a charge of grievous bodily harm for allegedly infecting one man.

She has also been charged with attempted bodily harm for allegedly having sex with two other men who were not infected.

The charges carry a prison sentence ranging from six months to 10 years.

The issue of whether someone with HIV or AIDS is duty bound, morally and legally, to warn their partners of their infection prior to engaging in sex of any sort, let alone unprotected sex, would seemingly be a no-brainer. Indeed, for the protection of society at large, not merely should there be punishment for such acts, it should be severe indeed. It is a criminally reckless act that portends to destroy innocent people's lives and spread HIV throughout society.

Amazingly, some groups see it otherwise. Earlier this year, the International Planned Parenthood took the position that "each person has a right to a 'fun, happy and sexually fulfilling lives' and that, within the penumbra of that right, those with AIDS or HIV have a right to engage in sex without informing their partner that they are infected. And it would seem that is the tack being taken by at least some AIDS "activists." Back to the case of Ms. Nadja Benaissa, this also from the BBC:

Aids campaigners have been critical of the authorities' handling of Ms Benaissa's case, and warned against a rush to criminalise the transmission of HIV, the BBC's Tristana Moore reports from Berlin.

Edwin Bernard, a writer and advocate specialising in HIV prosecutions, believes that prosecutions and laws on HIV transmission may do more harm than good in terms of reducing the spread of infections.

He told BBC World Service that studies in the US had found that they have had no real impact on new infections.

When the 24 US states which have disclosure laws were compared with those that do not, there was no impact on the rate of transmission or the level of unprotected sex people engage in, he said.

"By singling out HIV, it really promotes fear and stigma," Mr Bernard added.

"Many of these cases, and in particular the media reporting of these cases, perpetuate an awful lot of myths about how HIV is transmitted, as well as things like the life expectancy, which is pretty close to normal now in the developed world."

The campaigner noted that prosecutions were relatively rare compared with the number of HIV transmissions that happen each year.

He estimated that there had been at least 600 prosecutions in more than 40 countries with prison sentences handed down in most cases, ranging from a few months to life.

Very few people, he said, had been prosecuted for intentionally transmitting HIV sexually.

This really is insanity, it seems to me. They are advocating that a person with HIV/AIDS who knowingly engage in sex without telling their partners should be allowed to freely continue that conduct because: they might be stigmatized; it promotes fear, and; with extensive treatment it is not now an automatic death sentence. Hey, its the new common cold. Right?

Oh, and do note, the Obama DOJ is taking a similar position. They are advocating that people with HIV and AIDS be taken out of a special holding facility in South Carolina prisons where they receive daily treatment. The DOJ wants South Carolina to disperse these individuals throughout the general prison population.

What do you think?

In the second case, this from the LA Times about a rare medical condition and a new treatment for the disease that might lessen the child's predisposition to lesbianism:

Each year in the United States, perhaps a few dozen pregnant women learn they are carrying a fetus at risk for a rare disorder known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The condition causes an accumulation of male hormones and can, in females, lead to genitals so masculinized that it can be difficult at birth to determine the baby's gender.

A hormonal treatment to prevent ambiguous genitalia can now be offered to women who may be carrying such infants. It's not without health risks, but to its critics those are of small consequence compared with this notable side effect: The treatment might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioral traits.

That such a treatment would ever be considered, even to prevent genital abnormalities, has outraged gay and lesbian groups, troubled some doctors and fueled bioethicists' debate about the nature of human sexuality.

The treatment is a step toward "engineering in the womb for sexual orientation," said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University and an outspoken opponent of the treatment.

The ability to chemically steer a child's sexual orientation has become increasingly possible in recent years, with evidence building that homosexuality has biological roots and with advances in the treatment of babies in utero. Prenatal treatment for congenital adrenal hyperplasia is the first to test — unintentionally or not — that potential.

The hormonal treatment "theoretically can influence postnatal behavior, not just genital differentiation," said Ken Zucker, psychologist in chief of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, who studies gender identity. "Some people refer to girls with CAH as experiments of nature because you've got this condition and you can take advantage of studying it."

Complicating the situation is the fact that the daily hormone pill does nothing to treat or cure the underlying condition, caused in this case by a defective enzyme in the adrenal gland.

Dreger and critics — which include the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Advocates for Informed Choice (an organization that works to protect the rights of people with intersex conditions), and some pediatric endocrinologists and parents of children with the condition — say far too little is known about the safety of the hormone, the steroid dexamethasone, when used prenatally. They say it should be used sparingly, in closely monitored clinical trials, or not at all. They're even more concerned that some doctors might tell parents that a reduced chance of homosexuality is one of the therapy's benefits. . . .

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, caused by a defect in an enzyme called 21-hydroxylase, affects about 1 in 15,000 infants, and almost all newborns are screened for it. Undetected, the abnormality can make both male and female infants critically ill within a few weeks of birth because of an associated salt loss through the urine. The defective enzyme also causes a deficiency of the hormone cortisol, which can affect heart function, and an increase in androgens produced by the adrenal glands. . . .

Is anyone else offended by the fact that gay rights groups are weighing in on this medical treatment to advance their own special interests? One, this treatment may prove beneficial to the child. Two, the people who should determine whether to go forward with this treatment seems to me to be solely an issue of parental rights. Lastly, since reducing the tendency towards homosexuality is not an option, but a side effect of this treatment, is there any moral or ethical reason for withholding this information from the parents - besides the facts that it upsets gay rights activists? Should gay rights ever trump parental rights? Those are questions for you. Feel free to weigh in.


Ex-Dissident said...

GW, this just proves that people who are active in gay and lesbian groups are nuts.

Chris said...

In the first case, would you rather be stigmatized because you have a disease that is treatable, or because you got your head blown off by a former sex partner after you gave them the disease without their knowledge? Are any of these single-issue liberals capable of thinking beyond the moment?

OBloodyHell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OBloodyHell said...

> Should gay rights ever trump parental rights?

Rather certainly not. And I don't even see this as a "right" -- there is no "right" to having yourself WIND UP being gay. If there becomes a treatment that, as its sole function, does actually discourage the development of homosexual traits, then that IS certainly within the prerogative of parents to ask for. Any potential right one might have to not being stigmatized for BEING gay is not even vaguely associated with this notion.

One might criticize Michael Jackson for his skin-lightening treatments, but, if that's your desire, what's the question?

If there comes a treatment that reduces the development of classical "black" features in preference for classically "white" features (or vice versa, I don't really care), then is it wrong somehow to -allow- people to CHOOSE such for their children? When and where does the State's power over our children stop?

> Are any of these single-issue liberals capable of thinking beyond the moment?

I think you fail to grasp that the vast percentage of liberals ARE single-issue. It's that sort of overall lack of holistic thinking that's their major malfunction in the first place.

And, in addition, "thinking beyond the moment" is a major problem with both liberals AND with gays -- gays in particular are, as a group, exceptionally incapable of dealing with consequential thinking. That's one reason why the spread of AIDS hasn't been stopped almost dead among them -- too many continue engaging in unprotected sex, with a wide range of partners, when limiting either -- adding protection or reducing the array of partners -- would solve the problem in the vast majority of instances.

In another era, such behavior -- failure to think things through carefully -- would be punished unflinchingly by the cold, hard universe, but with civilization we protect such too much from their own follies.

Put more simply:

Too much tiger food.
Not enough tigers.
We need more tigers!!