At the end of her essay, Schaub worries about decreased fertility; that healthy oldsters would be less interested in reproducing. A first response is: so what? Shouldn’t the decision to have children be up to individuals? After all, already countries with the highest life expectancies have the lowest levels of fertility. A lack of interest in progeny could have the happy side effect of addressing the possibility that radically increased human lifespans might lead to overpopulation. No one can know for sure, but it could well be that bearing and rearing children would eventually interest long-lived oldsters who would come to feel that they had the time and the resources to do it right. Since assisted reproductive techniques will extend procreation over many decades, people who can look forward to living and working for hundreds of years will be able to delay and stretch out the period of parenthood.
Callahan’s demand that all problems that doubled healthy lifespans might cause be solved in advance is just silly. Humanity did not solve all of the problems caused by the introduction of farming, electricity, automobiles, antibiotics, sanitation, and computers in advance. We proceeded by trial and error and corrected problems as they arose. We should be allowed do the same thing with any new age-retardation techniques that biomedical research may develop.
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