July 22, 2004

Screened to Order

They're here! Everyone has to have one! Designer babies!

Last night, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority overturned their long-standing rule that embryo screening is acceptable only to weed out inherited disease. While there some opposition to this policy, it was accepted that tiny babies could be killed if they were potentially defective.

Now the HFEA will allow parents to choose children with desirable traits. The media-savvy motivation for this change is the pressure to allow the selection of embryos to donate tissue to sick siblings. The HFEA chairperson noted, “Faced with potential requests from parents who want to save a sick child, the emotional focus is understandably on the child who is ill."

She said further, "Our job is also to consider the welfare of the tissue-matched child which will be born. Our review of the evidence available does not indicate that the embryo biopsy procedure disadvantages resulting babies compared to other IVF babies." So there is no harm to the child that is born with the "right" genes. She completely misses the point that there is irreparable harm done to the undesired embryos.

Under the new rules, there is nothing to prevent selection based on a desire to have a boy or a girl or blond hair and blue eyes. It doesn't even have to be limited to appearance. Want the most intelligent? The most athletic? These traits can be screened as well. As genetics increasingly becomes a more exact science, you can have exactly the child you want, discarding the rest.

Posted by david at July 22, 2004 11:47 AM | TrackBack

Frankly I find it all very scary. Shades of the Nazi party and the quest for the perfect human.

I cannot begin to imagine the anguish of those parents who have a dying child, but I do not think designer babies are the answer.

Perhaps this is when we as Christians are fortunate, as we know that life is meant be transient. Death is not the end of existence, we have the certainty that we will meet our loved ones again and that what matters is how we live our lives, not how long our lives are.........

Posted by: Elizabeth at July 23, 2004 09:11 AM