Ethics Quiz: The Re-cycled Sperm Trick

I think we all will agree that a woman obtaining a man’s semen via oral sex, secretly saving it, and using it to impregnate herself is unethical, correct? And that even if some fool court requires the deceived man to pay child support, the entire episode is outrageously dishonest, irresponsible and unfair?

This apparently happened to a Chicago man five years ago, and he is suing his former Lewinsky for the infliction of emotional distress. This seems inadequate. The use of a man’s sperm to produce his child without his consent in a surreptitious, deceitful manner should probably be a criminal offense—applying the Ethics Alarms principle that the law must often step in when ethics fail—and your challenge is to determine:

  • What conduct should the theoretical law prohibit?
  • What is an appropriate punishment for violating the law, as in the Chicago case?
  • How, if at all, should the law address the welfare or the innocent child?

Or do you think there should be a law at all?

My answer, after I’ve absorbed all of your wisdom, will follow.

On a related note, one upside of this revolting incident may be that it ends the ridiculous, Bill Clinton-fertilized argument that fellatio isn’t sex. I sure hope so. If only this had happened to Bill…what a great Lifetime movie it would have made!

[Again, thanks to Jeff Hibbert for the tip.]

Incompetent Advice from “The Ethicist”

Randy Cohen,”The Ethicist,” really doesn’t apply ethics to the intriguing questions sent to him in his long-running column in the New York Times Magazine. What he applies is Randy’s customized social justice agenda, which has a strong class bias (Rich people deserve to be brought down a peg whenever feasible), endorses redistribution of income (stealing from rich people is different from stealing from poor people) and a belief that if a rationalization can provide a green light to allow a deserving person to stick it to a company or wealthy citizen, by all means, embrace it. Because Cohen is a smart and instinctively ethical guy, he still get the answers right the vast majority of the time, as he has done for quite a few weeks now. Eventually, however he’ll reveal the Real Randy in a column like today’s, in which “The Ethicist” endorses vigilante justice. Continue reading

Child Support Enforcement Is Not Unethical

It is unusual to see a woman defending non-payment of child support, but that is just what blogger Elaine Doxie does in a recent post. She argues that enforcing child support may be unethical when the non-paying parent has legitimate reasons for non-payment.  Her arguments that child support enforcement can be unethical show a serious misunderstanding of what an obligation is.

Speaking of “deadbeat dads”, Doxie writes, “They may be unemployed, hospitalized, in jail or even a prisoner of war, and are all treated as if they got into the situation they are in just to get out of paying child support.” The logic behind child support is that a parent’s obligations do not change just because he or she is not living with the child.  An unemployed father in a family still has to feed and clothe and otherwise care for the needs of his children; he can’t just take care of himself and argue, “Hey, times are tough!” Continue reading