The Rudd Government is under pressure from all fronts, even Labor colleagues, to overturn a decision denying German doctor Bernhard Moeller permanent residency in Australia because his son Lukas has Down syndrome. The Immigration Department this week rejected Dr Moeller's application for permanent residency, saying the potential cost to the taxpayer of 13-year-old Lukas's condition was too great.
This is not to say that government backed health care is right or wrong, but it is a reminder that transferring responsibilities from the private to the public sector will not magically change the human tendency to engage in cost vs. benefit analysis. Scarcity is a fact of economic life, whether it be purely private sector or a public good. With the concurrent rise of personalized genomics, a shift toward government involvement in American health care, and a diversity of ethoses among the public, the job of bioethicist is going to be get much more interesting in the coming years. The issues which emerge out of a major genetic abnormality such as Down Syndrome is simply the tip of the iceberg. As with religion public consensuses will emerge whereby some choices are sacrosanct, while others may result in public sanction or even legal repercussions. The rise of biological technologies will confound some of our current political configurations; those on the Left and the Right who put the focus on hedonic consumption will face off against a loose coalition with a diverse array of deontological principles. The culture wars will be obliterated and resurrected in a radically different form as transformative technologies reshape our individual relationships to nature and the human community. Our eyes shall be opened.... H/T The Corner