Sunday

A Question of Ethics


This is a Quiz, an Ethics Quiz. If ya pass, ya get to go to Breastfeeding Heaven. If ya fail...well ya go back to reality. Breastfeeding Heaven is the land of milkie and mommies, a Virtual Garden of Delight. I always loved college courses that were Pass/Fail. NOT. But in the Virtual, life is never evening shadows or morning mist. It's always Life in the BrightShiningSilvery Glow of never-neverland. So what's that got to do with the price of human milk, eh? I use to say what's that got to do with the price of bananas. But I'm on the Virtual, so we will walk the walk and talk the talk.
Okay, question one of our Ethics Quiz. What will you do to get to a Breastfeeding Society? a) anything short of murder, b) anything including murder, c) lie, steal, or cheat-the political norm, d) nothing, e) anything as long as I get paid. Now, what is the right answer? And do we have all the options? Question two. Is it ethical to "fib" (small little lies) when asking for donations? a) sometimes, b) always, c) never, d) only if you are doing it for the good of the people. Question three. Is it ethical to pay breastmilk donors? a) always, b) sometimes, c) never.
So lets give examples, so we can reflect on our answers. Let's see. An example of the second question was the PR campaign to get mothers to donate their breastmilk because of the Haiti earthquake. We had an "urgent" request for breastmilk donations, one press release said, "Infant victims of Haiti's earthquake need breast milk." Truth or fiction? Well, sort of true from the perspective of the milk banking promoters. They believed that Haitian babies needed bottled breastmilk, particularly babies without mothers. Yet, was that the real reason for the request for donations? No, in later statements called "Talking Points" set out by the US Breastfeeding Committee, HMBANA, and ILCA it was stated: "The initial appeal for donor milk was made earlier this week to help replenish supplies of milk at the regional milk banks around the country, which were already low following the holidays." The appeal actually would only benefit American babies because these organizations recognized that there was no infrastructure in Haiti. So its OK to tell a minor fib (urgent need for donor milk for Haitian babies) in order to do a good thing (build up donor milk supplies in USA to benefit US babies)? Well, I guess its OK cause no one is questioning the ethical implications of such PR tactics. An example of the third question is easy. I just read an article written in 2009 in the New Yorker by Jill Lepore called, "Baby Food: If Breast is best why are women bottling their milk?" She states in her article, "Can a human milk bank pay a woman for her milk. No, because doing so would violate the ethical standards of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America [HMBANA]."
Of course, that is their ethics and not necessarily everyone else's ethics. Unless one believes that their is only one answer to ethical questions. Yet, interestingly enough, Prolacta, a for-profit milk bank pays hospitals for donor milk. Yet they follow the ethics of HMBANA and refuse to pay individuals for donor milk. So ethics in Prolacta's case depend on whether you are a hospital or the individual donor.
Yes I haven't touched on an example of the first question, "What would you do to get to a Breastfeeding Society?" I leave you to the Virtual to find your answer.........
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

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