How by the Fitzgerald family. What is it about

How far are people willing to go for the ones they love? We often hear stories of extraordinary measures taken by people for their loved ones; organ donation, dropping everything and moving across the world, or even taking a bullet. My Sister’s Keeper, written by Jodi Picoult, tells a story about a family whose oldest child Kate, has a rare form of acute leukemia. Kate’s parents made the unorthodox decision to genetically engineer their other daughter, Anna, to aid Kate by donating bone marrow. To many, this choice could be seen as incredibly unethical. However, since their reasoning is to save the life of their daughter, would the circumstances change its moral standing? Wouldn’t everyone, when it came down to it,  do whatever they could to save someone they love? Jodi Picoult recognizes that ethics are often disregarded when it comes to making decisions about the ones we love, through the choices made by the Fitzgerald family.   What is it about love that makes people disregard something as important as ethics? The answer is simple; love is blinding. In My Sister’s Keeper, Sara is blinded by Kate’s illness, resulting in her inability to give attention to anything other than her child’s leukemia, including herself and her other children. Sara is so determined to keep Kate alive, that she would do anything; even if it means risking the well being of her other children. From the moment Anna was born, her health and quality of life was put at risk as she donated bone marrow and platelets to Kate. These procedures that Anna was practically forced to undergo weren’t necessarily good for her, but since they contributed to treatment for Kate, they weren’t considered problematic. Sara is so terrified of losing Kate that the idea of her dying is simply not a possibility, and she feels a responsibility to fight and keep Kate alive, “‘She is dying Sara. She will die, either tonight or tomorrow, or maybe a year from now if we’re really lucky. You heard what Dr. Chance said. Arsenic is not a cure. It just postpones what’s coming.’ My eyes fill with tears. ‘But I love her,’ I say, because that is reason enough” (318). Her reason of ‘love’ drives Sara to try any treatment on Kate, even when they require Anna to be a donor, as long as it keeps Kate alive just a little longer. Sara obviously doesn’t want Kate to endure extreme suffering, but she feels that as long as Kate remains a part of their family, any negative facets such as the aftermath and symptoms of treatments, are counterbalanced. Being said, Brian and Sara Fitzgerald presumed they were only doing what was best in terms of Kate’s survival when they decided on the various surgeries and procedures, as they held a biased outlook towards keeping her alive. Given that Kate’s parents were so intent on her survival, their choices weren’t necessarily focused on the contentment and security of their other kids, Anna and Jesse. In fact, Sara never once asked Anna, or even Kate, how they felt about the countless procedures, and she was so devoted to her daughter’s cause that she couldn’t see her negligence of Jesse and prevention of Anna living a normal life. Anna speaks of her parents’ negligence of Jesse on page 14, “Don’t get me wrong- it isn’t that my parents don’t care about Jesse or whatever trouble he’s gotten himself mixed up in. It’s just that they don’t really have time to care about it, because it’s a problem lower on the totem pole”. Sara’s devotion to Kate affects Anna’s everyday life, even as a child: “When five thousand lymphocytes don’t seem to be enough, Dr. Chance calls for ten thousand. Anna’s appointment for a second donor lymphocyte draw falls in the middle of the gymnastics birthday party of a girl in her class. I agree to let her go for a little while, and then drive to the hospital from the gym” (171). Sara’s unethical decision of conceiving Anna for the sole purpose of being Kate’s donor results in her negligence of regular aspects of Anna’s childhood. By putting her through countless futile surgeries such as the lymphocyte draw, she is neglecting one child’s safety in order to save another’s. She proves her willingness to do almost anything to save her daughter’s life in her closing argument of the trial when she says, “…if you’re a parent and the person in that burning building is your child. If that’s the case, not only would everyone understand if you ran in to get your child- they’d practically expect it” (406). If Sara was willing to disregard the welfare of other members of her family, it is almost certain that ethics weren’t a strong factor in her decision making.  In her closing argument, she also says, “Was it legal? Was it moral?” Was it crazy or foolish or cruel? I don’t know. But I do know it was right” (406), reiterating that if it keeps Kate alive, then her decision is right, regardless of the consequences.  At the closing of the court ruling, Judge DeSalvo recognizes Sara’s reasoning behind making these decisions by stating that people will continue to make decisions not based on ethics, but the love in their hearts.Throughout My Sister’s Keeper, it becomes evident that the decisions made by Sara, out of love for Kate, affect the rest of the family to a greater extent. Are these decisions ethical if they ruin the rest of the family’s lives? Since Anna has almost no say in the procedures she undergoes, she grows up feeling as though she has no control over her own life. On top of that, Anna often feels that she is invisible, and her feelings are being neglected repeatedly. For example, at the beginning of the novel, Anna is visibly upset at the dinner table, and it goes unnoticed by both her parents, even when Sara asks Brian how she looked. Only when the matter is related to Kate, does Sara seem to remember Anna. In response to her mother’s negligence, Anna files a lawsuit for medical emancipation, though we later learn that this was not the true reason for the lawsuit. Sara not only neglects Anna, but her right to make her own decisions as well. Although having undergone several procedures over the course of her life, Anna had never actually given consent to any of them. Never having a say in what was constantly being done to her body took a toll on Anna, resulting in her feelings of lack of power in her life. Through Sara’s clouded judgment and inability to acknowledge anything other than Kate’s survival when making decisions, Anna’s quality of life was threatened greatly, especially since the procedures never benefited her. Constant non-beneficial,and non-consensual operations arise a question of ethical rightness when babies are genetically engineered to donate blood marrow or tissue to match that of a sick child’s. Is it right for Anna to suffer to keep Kate alive, and at what point will her parents realize their decisions must include the consideration of Anna’s health as well? Although Anna is still Sara’s daughter, there have been times in the novel where it could be brought to question if Anna is viewed as anything other than a donor to Kate. When Sara is asked what she hopes her baby will be when they grows up, she responds “With any luck I’ll be able to tell her to stop bugging her sister” (103). Even before Anna was born, her mother viewed her not as an individual, but in relation to Kate. When it came to the needs or disputes of her other children, Sara always compared their problems to Kate’s. For example, when Jesse asks about getting new cleats, Sara responds, “‘Your sister,’ I say evenly, ‘is incredibly sick. I’m sorry if that interferes with your dentist’s appointment or your plan to go buy a pair of cleats. But those don’t rate quite as high in the grand scheme of things right now. I’d think that since you’re ten, you might be able to grow up enough to realize that the whole world doesn’t always revolve around you'” (166). Jesse was fed up with Kate’s needs always being placed above his, and asks his mother when she’s going to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around Kate. The disregard for the other Fitzgerald children also leads to Jesse becoming slightly emotionally damaged. He is arsonist, and excessively does drugs and gets drunk. Jesse the oldest of the siblings, is the most invisible. Because he is not a match for Kate, Jesse also feels powerless, and he starts fires ‘for fun’ to get his parent’s attention. While Kate’s cancer and their parents decisions affect the Fitzgerald children most of all, Sara is greatly impacted as well. Everything Sara does- every choice and decision made, is to benefit Kate; to the point where that she no longer lives her own life. Sara’s sister comments on this, telling her, ” You’re not living Sara, you’re waiting for Kate to die” (175). The decisions made about Kate out of love, impact the Fitzgerald family more than they impact Kate. When ethics are disregarded, it not only affects the people whose decisions are being made for them, but everyone around them as well. The final question is, are these choices made by the Fitzgerald family ethical? Is it acceptable to genetically engineer a human solely for medical purposes? The controversial ethical issue that arises given Anna’s birth is that she is not considered as an individual human being. Anna is always viewed in regards of her aid to Kate, and her value as a person comes from keeping Kate alive, “Although I am nine months pregnant, although I have had plenty of time to dream, I have not really considered the specifics of this child. I have thought of this daughter only in terms of what she will be able to do to for the daughter I already have… then again, my dreams for her are no less exalted; I plan for her to save her sister’s life” (100). This raises ethical controversy, because if a child feels that they have no worth on their own, is it really right to bring them into this world?  By choosing to conceive a child for the sole purpose of being a donor also compromises the child’s quality of life and well being, especially since Anna had never given consent. She was never consulted before she was placed through another procedure that had no benefit to her, other than helping her sister. Even though Kate wished to discontinue her treatment, her parents still continued to make decisions for their daughters regarding procedures; never giving them an option to turn them down. Kate’s parents desire to control every detail of Kate’s fate medically results in them failing to ensure their children’s consent. This brings light to the issue of the decision making and consent of these ‘designer’ babies. While Brian and Sara were so preoccupied with making decisions for Kate, they neglected to notice Anna’s needs, another issue with conceiving a child simply to save another. Because Anna’s ‘job’ was to act as a donor for Kate, her consent to participate in these procedures were never questioned. However, it is difficult to decide how ethical the decisions made in the novel are, since the situation is fictional. in his closing statement of Anna’s court case, Judge DeSalvo says, “The answer is that there is no good answer. So parents, as doctors, as judges, and as a society, we fumble through and make decisions that allow us to sleep at night- because morals are more important than ethics, and love is more important than law” (409). He explains how it is difficult to decide whether something is right or wrong.  The emphasis of ethics in situations like these is important, as moving forward too quickly with such technology like genetic engineering can be dangerous to many families, and society; sometimes, the question whether something is ethical is often not questioned due to new medical discoveries. Deciding whether the use of medical technology, like genetic engineering, is ethical is based on how and why a person decides to use it.