Life, Death, Genes, and Ethics: Biotechnology and Bioethics

By Max J. Charlesworth | Go to book overview

Two
NEW WAYS OF BIRTH

Then, at last, there came the sound of a cry, a new cry, which made Shatov shudder and jump up from his knees--the cry of an infant child, weak and discordant. He crossed himself and rushed into the room. A tiny, red, crumpled human being screamed and moved its tiny arms and legs in Mrs Virginsky's hands. It was dreadfully helpless and, like a speck of dust, was at the mercy of the slightest puff of wind, but it was screaming and asserting itself as though it also had every right to live . . .

After she had swaddled it and before she laid it across the bed between two pillows, she gave it to Shatov to hold for a moment. Marie, as though afraid of Mrs Virginsky, signed to him on the sly. He understood at once and brought the baby to show her.

'He's so--pretty!' she whispered weakly with a smile . . .

'Rejoice, Mrs Virginsky,' Shatov, radiant at the few words Marie had uttered about the child, murmured with an idiotically blissful expression. 'It's a great joy!'

'What great joy are you babbling about¿' Mrs Virginsky said merrily, bustling about, clearing away and working like a Trojan.

'The mystery of the coming of a new human being is a great and incomprehensible mystery, Mrs Virginsky, and what a pity it is you don't understand it!'

Shatov muttered incoherently, dazed and entranced. It was as though something were swaying about in his head and pouring out of his soul involuntarily, in spite of himself.

'There were two, and now there's a third human being, a new spirit, whole and complete, which no human hands can fashion--a new thought and a new love--it makes me feel frightened. And there's nothing bigger in the world!'

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Devils.1

-35-

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Life, Death, Genes, and Ethics: Biotechnology and Bioethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Boyer Lectures *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bioethics and Democracy--A Fundamental Question 1
  • One - Introduction 13
  • Two - New Ways of Birth 35
  • Three - New Ways of Dying 55
  • Four - The Ethics of the Genes 80
  • Five - Bioethics: Commitees, Experts, and the Community 96
  • Six - Controlling the Biotechnological Genie 117
  • Notes 134
  • Bibliography 142
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