ABSTRACT

In Jonathan Tollins's 1993 play, The Twilight ofthe Golds, a pregnant woman and her husband face the decision of whether or not to abort a fetus that has been identified genetically as a "homosexual." The decision is complicated by the fact that the mother's own brother is gay, and he has vowed never to see her again if the couple decides on abortion. Although supposedly set in "the very near future," the play deals with a theme that has received considerable public exposure in the last several years. Growing claims that a wide variety of personality and behavioral traits are genetic in origin-a view known by its critics as biological determinism-have become increasingly prominent in both scientific and lay circles. Combined with publicity flowing from the Human Genome Project claiming that genetic "diseases" can be detected early in pregnancy, and that afflicted fetuses can either be aborted or else "cured" through drug, hormone, or gene therapy, the Golds's situation presents a major ethical dilemma. Even UCLA neurobiologist Roger Gorski, who believes strongly that male and female brains are hardwired for gender roles, has remarked that "[tjhere is something reductive and scary about a situation in which you mightbe able to ask a mother whether she wants testosterone treatment to avoid having a homosexual son" (qtd, in Longino 1990, 169).