Incest is illegal. Should it be? Inbreeding is illogical because it leads to significant increases in genetic defects (adultery has always been necessary in the history of the English royal family to provide fresh DNA) and because it would lead to social discrimination against children conceived in incestuous relationships, as the judge in the recent Australian case made clear.
What I find frustrating about the reporting of these and other cases is the inability of the people concerned and most of the commenters to distinguish between sexual activity and reproduction. We live in a post-natural age where sexual intercourse between consenting heterosexual adults does not have to lead to conception. Casual sex is a popular recreational activity, and consenting adults should be able to have sex with other consenting adults as long as they don’t harm anyone else.
The logical conclusion is that consenting adult incestuous sex should not be illegal, but genetically incestuous reproduction should continue to be illegal. In practical terms, however, I doubt the people involved have thought about the more complex aspects of their sexual relationship, and obviously did not try to avoid conceiving. As with most aspects of life, with great freedom comes great responsibility. If these people wanted to be free to have sex they should have taken the responsibility to prevent conception.
Here’s another nice controversy that should have some people foaming at the mouth. If we are to use an ancient moral taboo (incest) to justify modern scientific understandings of genetic defects, how far will our society go to avoid or reduce genetic problems?
A recent study found most teenage women who smoke don’t give up smoking when pregnant, which harms their child in utero. Should they be forced to stop? Should smoking while pregnant be a crime? Should they be forced to abort if they won’t quit?
The eugenics debate has never gone away. Genetics has become the top science fiction topic, explored in Code 46, Gattaca and The Island. If you are curious about a complex alternate take on genetic incest, watch Code 46. It’s one of the best recent science fictions films.
It’s difficult to find the exact data relevant to this issue. This source suggests that 80% of teen pregnancies are unplanned. Our society won’t take responsbility for its sexuality. We need comprehensive sexual reproduction, sexual health and sexual relationship education for all young people, no excemptions, no excuses. Deliberate ignorance leads to poor choices and poor decisions.
Because society won’t take responsibility for sexuality, it tries instead to restrict freedoms. The widespead failure to acknowledge and accept consenting adult homosexual behaviour in law and society is the most obvious example, which is ironic given that it does not lead to conception and poses no genetic risk. Whose freedom will be repressed next?