A Review of Oluwasegun Babatunde novel. Unethical or not by Mercy Arinola Adebayo
For The Yellow House Library
What is ethical, what is not?
Ethics are moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conduct of an activity. They are moral codes of conduct, can be sourced from conscience, beliefs and societal dictates. They are neither laws nor orders. Ethical actions can not be penalized. So, they are based off on your presumed ways or standards of behavior and these differ from one person to another. It is said that the law sets minimum standards of behaviour while ethics sets maximum standards.
In medicine, we have what we call medical ethics which involves examining a specific problem, usually a clinical case, and using values, facts, and logic to decide what the best course of action should be. Proffessional ethicists recommend using four values to determine ethical issues – autonomy, justice, beneficence and nonmaleficence. When there is a ‘wrong’ and a ‘right’, the decision is pretty straight forward but when there are seemingly two ‘rights’, a dilemma may ensure. Ethics are often seen as a proscriptive activity—telling you what you cannot do. But in many cases it can be very freeing. It can affirm that you are doing the right thing. Ethics are based on values and reasoning, and it uses persuasion to get its message across. The relationship between the law and ethics can be very controversial because what is regarded as unethical may not be unlawful and vice versa.
Introducing Dr. Ajenifuja
Unethical or Not is the story of a gynecologist who harvested semen from her dead friend and have herself inseminated with it. She got pregnant and the family of the dead man came for her. They sued her for malpractice and use of semen from their deceased son which they believe is unethical and maybe illegal. They demanded the termination of the pregnancy, revocation of her license and possible jail term.
Well, the book went ahead to show that, though the Nigerian National Health Act of 2011 contains provisions relating to organ donation and transplantation when the selection process for transplantation seems medically justified, there’s no Nigeria law in place that regulates reproductive medicine practice in Nigeria. The late man’s Will also gave her leverage to decide to do whatever she deem fit with his property and if a medical issue, she was to choose for him.
What did I just read?
The first thing that struck me about the book is the interesting knowledge about assisted reproduction that is exposed to the lay man to understand. It is high time we embrace the fascinating ideas of assisted conception as a society because it is here to stay. Nigerians with degrees in biochemistry, human biology, biotechnology, biomedical science and microbiology can find rewarding career paths in assisted reproductive technology.
Perhaps, the funniest part of the book is the way a mother discussed her sexual life in a narration involving her younger self and her spouse; she told her daughter her fetishes and fantasies. I mean which Nigerian parent ever sit down to discuss their sex life with their child(ren)? Though I found it unconventional that a mother discusses sex with her grown up daughter, I believe the author’s intention is to follow the western way, to encourage African parents discuss sex freely with their children.
Did I say that was the funniest? No, I don’t think so. The funniest must be having a waiter robot, Al and a self driving car that uses hydrogen as fuel in Nigeria in 2025. C’mon, 2025!!! I know it’s good to be optimistic about our nation and all but 2050 sounds more like it. Maybe 2100. 😏
New word alert – Cryopreservation
This is a process that preserves organelles, cells, tissues, or any other biological constructs by cooling the samples to very low temperatures.
Believe me when I say…
Apart from the story of the protagonist which maybe far-fetched, there are familiar narratives sourced from real life events that resonate with us. I mean, doesn’t fictions ride on real life experiences? I find this book amusing, informative and thought provoking. A good book start up conversations. This is a good book which makes for critical thinking on the serious ethical, legal and social issues relating to organ/tissue transplantation that needs to be addressed in Nigeria. And, especially the nitty gritty of assisted reproduction, the limiting issues like technological know-how, need for more fertility facilities, societal acceptance of this kind of reproduction even as it spills to surrogacy.
I also think, more importantly, there should be clear laws on muddy areas of reproductive medicine in Nigeria which this book exposed.
Dr. Ajenifuja was declared free of all the charges against her but the question still remains about what she did– is it ethical or not?
Oluwasegun Babatunde is witty, brilliant and loaded with information. This showed in the book where he wrote many things together (almost leaving the theme at some point) like he had so much to pour down from his head. I love the way he weaved satire with frank humour; imagine a former president called Ranka Dede Bubu suspected to have been killed from cows stampede after losing power. Then, the author veered off weirdly when he wrote about a fetus interpretation of events. Like… How is a fetus self-aware? I don’t understand this. When I told him how this messed with my head, he said it’s fiction but what if a fetus could. For someone who likes shakushaku dance, I am no longer surprised. 😁
(Mind on overdrive, there.)
I totally enjoyed reading this book (took me 2 days) and I recommend it to bibliophiles especially fiction lovers. You should chat with the lively author about getting your copy.
You can also lend a copy for free HERE