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Main » 2009 » July » 23 » Designer Genes and Babies? (23-06-2009)
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Designer Genes and Babies? (23-06-2009)
The advancement in genetic technology has brought a new age in modern day science. We’ve arrived at a point where legally approved soon-to-be parents can choose gender and even certain physical traits of the baby. For many generations, people hoped and prayed for the birth of a particular gender. The reasons are sometimes cultural factors such as restricting the inheritance of property and continuity the family name to male heirs. The technological methods of achieving the goal of embryonic gender selection has been much debated over the years. How do you feel about the practice and the principles behind it? Let’s look at the pros and cons of embryonic gender selection.


1st Statement:
People should have the freedom of choice. Why shouldn’t would-be parents be able to do this, given that no harm is done to others by their decision? It is a fact of life that sometimes parents are disappointed with the gender of their child. This is true, for example, when they already have six sons but want a daughter. Guaranteeing (or improving the chances of) a child being of the gender they prefer means that the child is more likely to fit into the family’s dreams. He or she is, bluntly, more likely to be loved. Talk of designer babies is scaremongering nonsense. All babies are, to some extent, designed. Individuals do not procreate randomly: they choose their partners, and often choose the time of conception according to their age and prosperity. Parents give so much to their children. They invest years of their lives and a large amount of their earnings in their upbringing. Isn’t it fair that in return, they get to decide something like this if they want to? This is an extension of reproductive rights.

2nd Statement:
Some cultures place great importance on having at least one child of a particular gender. We can help realize this aim. We can prevent the trauma and stress of not having a child of a particular gender, which can have negative cultural connotations. If a state’s population became seriously imbalanced, one might have to rethink: but given that most countries, including all in the West, are not, and given that many families in most countries will choose to have roughly as many of either sex, this should not stop this proposal from being put into effect in many countries.

3rd Statement:
Some parents are carriers of known sex-specific diseases. It is obviously in the child’s interest that they don’t have such a condition. Determining its gender can ensure that. Many families have predispositions towards certain common conditions that are more likely to result in one gender than another, and these can be avoided too. Nearly all developmental diseases are either more common in one gender or more severe among one gender.
, heart disease and even lung cancer also seem to be influenced by a person’s gender. Males disproportionately suffer from X chromosome problems because their body has nothing to ‘fall back on.’ These range in nature from baldness and color blindness to muscular dystrophy and hemophilia. Women are disproportionately affected by diseases of the immune system.
In many countries and cultures gender selection happens already, usually by selective abortion or abandonment of unwanted babies. Everyone can agree that this is a terrible waste of life and potentially very dangerous for the mother concerned, and of course many people object strongly to abortion on moral grounds. The use of new technologies to allow gender selection at the start of pregnancy will reduce and hopefully eventually end the use of selective abortion.


1st Statement:
Children are not toys. They are not meant to be designed to meet specifications most convenient to the ‘owner’. This is an extension of the consumer society. If we allow parents to choose gender, soon some will want to choose eye color, or hair color. That is only the beginning. We are, in allowing this, encouraging false ideas of ‘perfection’ - damning those that don’t look a certain way. Furthermore, since of course there’s no justification for allowing such indulgence at public expense, the divide will grow ever larger between rich and poor, as the rich tailor not only their clothes and belongings to reflect their wealth, but also the bodies of their children. If a “gay gene” is discovered, would parents be permitted to weed out embryos with it, using the technology this proposal would condone? We really should be encouraging the idea that when it comes to children, you get what you are given - otherwise, people will demand more and more the ability to change their kids, and be more and more likely to reject their own child when they don’t get exactly what they want.

2nd Statement:
Having a child is a process of wonder and awe. These proposals make having children something more like pre-ordering a car. To many people the moment of conception is the start of life, touched by God and not to be interfered with or abused out of selfish human motives. Medical benefits are outweighed by medical costs. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis involves the development of embryos outside the womb, which are then tested for gender. One or two of the desired gender are then implanted in the womb. Those that are not of the desired gender, or are surplus to the requirements are destroyed (typically, over a dozen embryos are used to select a single one to be implanted). A human life has been created with the express purpose of being destroyed. This is another form of abortion - only the conception is deliberate.

3rd Statement:
In the view of many, the new technologies are not morally different from abortion - in all cases a potential life is taken. In any case, the cost of these new methods is so high, and likely to remain so, that the proposition argument is irrelevant - the use of ultrasound scanning leading to selective abortion is so much cheaper that this great evil will not be reduced. Instead, these new technologies are likely to make selective abortion more common, as if legalization will make throwing away a human life simply because the parents would prefer it more legitimate.
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