Hi guys! Today, we will be presenting on the topic of Designer Babies – babies that are created by genetic screening or engineering combined with in vitro fertilization, in order to ensure the absence or presence of a particular gene or characteristic. What are designer babies? You may ask. Is it similar to a comparism between normal bags you buy from BHG and designer LV bags? No! It is more like a Hermes bag, where we are able to design and customize our very own babies! We can select eye colour, hair colour, the gender of the baby and any other physical features.
In the future, we may even be able to choose the physical and mental abilities of our very own kids! Now, we will show a video regarding the technology behind Designer Babies and the controversial issue behind this technology. In addition to this video, we also found several articles online. In 1999, there was an article by TIMES magazine that touched on the topic of Designer Babie. Instead of using the technology to choose the sex of the embryo, the case study showed the Collinses family using the technology to select a healthy embryo.
Hence, this shows that genetic engineering reduce the baby’s chances of being born with diseases. 10 years after the TIMES magazine article was published, a CBS news article was published, with the stunning headline – A Genetically Screened Baby Saved the Life of His Sister. This article clearly showed that the baby, Adam Nash, was created to possess the right cells to save his dying sister’s life. She required an exact match for a bone marrow transplant, to cure a rare genetic disorder, and the solution doctors had in mind, was to create a baby, designed to have similar genes to his sister.
The bone marrow transplant was done after Adam Nash was born, and now, both he and his sister are alive and healthy. However, nothing can be perfect. Genetic engineering, as seen in the article provided by Wall Street Journal, does have its cons. By choosing characteristics that will result in the baby looking good, it shows that humans are exploiting technology to suit their own selfish desires. Moreover, since certain characteristics will be eliminated, it will affect the biodiversity of the human race. Darwin’s Evolution Theory of survival of the fittest will soon have to be changed to survival of the good looking.
Furthermore, according to an article published by Singularity Hub, when parents select the characteristics they want for their child, they are effectively limiting the freedom of choice of the child. The child is unable to develop skill sets by him or herself, and choose the path they desire. The child would already have had a predetermined future. And what if the child fails to live up to expectations? Moreover, poor families would be unable to find genetic engineering a feasible option, and thus, their children would be unable to have genetic advantages.
In a world of perfect people, the people with genetic defects would be ostracized. And this would result in another form of discrimination. By looking through the pros and cons of genetic engineering, and reading through the different articles, we can establish several ethical issues that are important for discussion. By divorcing procreation from the act of sexual congress, we seem to be creating life with a 100 percent success rate, and might be seen as playing “God”, and the religious sectors would not favour this. Other than the issue of genetic disorders, traits selection is pretty much subjective.
Who are we to then determine if a trait is superior to another? If such technology falls into the hands of mentally unsound people (psychos, basically) like Hitler, it may be manipulated to create a blue-eyed, blond-haired army. And by not choosing the perfect embryos, we are effectively taking a life away, and this would not sit well with almost all religions too. After all, we are only humans, and are only part of a big picture. We do not hold the power to change nature to suit our course, but we should change OUR nature to suit nature.
Lastly, it is undeniable that such baby-designing services will only be affordable to the rich in the near future. Where is the equality in that? It is as if babies born to poor families are meant to be condemned to a life of flaws, while the rich are bestowed the right to direct their fates and play “God”. As Susannah Baruch, the director of reproductive genetics at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D. C say, “The old-fashioned way is cheaper and more fun and that won’t change in 30 years. ”.