Should Geneticists Be Allowed to Make Designer Babies?
The creation of designer babies has raised numerous concerns as it undermines the norms of morality and ethics. Undoubtedly, the process of making a designer baby is a revolutionary step in genetics. Oxford English Dictionary defines such children as babies “whose genetic make-up has been selected in order to eradicate a particular defect, or to ensure that a particular gene is present” (“Designer Baby”). Despite the fact that the idea of designer babies may sound positive, it has raised a variety of questions regarding whether the use of reproductive technologies is morally wrong. Although some argue that the creation of designer babies provides parents with the opportunity to receive immunity to genetic diseases and disabilities before birth, it is not ethically and morally correct to do. The idea of shopping for a baby seems to be highly unethical. The process of choosing sex and traits of a child means to design him or her, which confronts the norms of the Christian religion. Although genetic engineering is beneficial in helping to eliminate disabilities and disorders, it contributes to the child’s loss of individuality, confronts the morality of Christianity, as well as causes the occurrence of a gap in society. As a result, the government should control the use of such reproductive genetic techniques.
The process of making designer babies includes the possibility of choosing traits for a child, which may have a detrimental effect on his or her identity development. The technology of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) allows parents to choose characteristics for their child, which also means that they have the possibility to “create a superior race of humans”. In other words, with the availability of PGD parents would want to include the best in their children. This desire might lead to the production of a perfect gene pool that can harm the individuality of the designed children. As a result, parents may manipulate the DNA for satisfying own preferences but not the child’s. It means that a couple can choose to have a tall child so that their son will pursue a basketball career, or have thin fingers so that their daughter will become an exceptional piano player. However, the modification of individuality to match the social standards may have a negative effect on the identity development. All children have characteristics and qualities that are exclusive to them as they have been naturally developed in them. However, when modified these features become those that meet the standards of society or help the child to reach success within a social group. As a result, the concept of having a child is morally disturbed. By choosing traits for their children, parents choose to control their entire life, which, in its turn, will lead to the loss of individuality. The evidence proves that genetically designed children may lack individuality, which is morally and ethically incorrect.
Geneticists should not be allowed to make a designer baby because the process confronts the Christian beliefs. Parents try to play God when they want to choose specific characteristics for their children. Geneticists scan the future embryo with a computer to determine which one the future parents will select to be implanted in the mother’s womb or developed outside it. The concept is directly opposite to the one proposed by the Catholic Church, according to which only sexual acts between married couples bring new individuals into existence. Church states that a new person should be a “fruit of the conjugal act”. It means that fertility technologies, which substitute that process, including artificial inseminations, sperm injections, or surrogate motherhood, do not meet the moral standards, and thus, should be banned. The freezing of fertilized embryos is also morally wrong as many of them do not survive the process. The Catholic Church emphasizes that these embryos are also human beings. As a result, Vatican forbids the creation of designer babies, human hybrids, as well as the use of cloning and stem cell research. The evidence demonstrates that the procedures of designing children fail to meet moral norms as they contradict Christian beliefs.
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The engineering technologies that aim at making designer babies may also create a gap in society. According to Mamgain, the cost of detecting any disability or changing any unfavorable gene is extremely high and serves only a small part of the society. The practice can cause prejudice in the society because the rich might prevent any kind of disease and disability that may harm their newborn child. Lehmann argues that by spending high sums of money “picky parents would soon be able to design superior physical, mental and psychological attributes for their babies-to-be, the audience learned”. The cost of such procedures may even constitute approximately $100 000. In 2008, the price for preimplantation genetic diagnosis ranged from about $3 000 to $5 000 while the vitro fertilization procedure cost from $10 000 to nearly $15 000. Lehmann also argues that expensive donor eggs have created a new market of fertility for adult females who need them and young women who want to sell them. Agencies usually charge more for those donors who are educated and attractive. It means that the high price of such genetic processes helps to create a superior race as only rich people can afford them. In addition, the current expansion of genetic engineering provides the opportunity to choose sex. There is no advantage in sex selection other than pleasing parents. Lehmann argues that in countries, which value males more than females, the selection of sex may cause gender abuse while the choice of traits may cause a division among the genetically modified children and those who were born in a natural way. The evidence proves that the procedure of making a designer child may possibly cause a gap in the society. Its high cost, as well as the possibility that parents might choose those traits and sex that they like will contribute to the creation of a superior race. However, there are also people who think otherwise. The proponents of designer babies claim that genetic technologies are beneficial to all humankind.
Some people believe that genetic engineering is a way to eliminate the occurrence of disabilities and diseases. According to Kim, the preimplantation genetic diagnosis as the reproductive technology makes it possible to detect possible disabilities and prevent their occurrence before the beginning of pregnancy. The procedure is not only for couples who suffer whom a genetic disease but also those who may have a recessive gene. The process was created in the 1990s through in vitro fertilization. It aims at preventing such genetic diseases as Huntington’s disease, chromosomal abnormalities, mainly Down syndrome, as well as sex-linked genetic diseases, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Geneticists also emphasize the fact that PGD might also eliminate the occurrence of diseases, which occur after birth, including asthma, cancer, or heart diseases. As a result, making designer babies could lower the number of children who suffer from such disorders. In its turn, the decrease might lower health expenditure. One may argue that PGD does not include immoral or unethical actions, as well as does not lead to the discrimination against the disabled. However, because many parents choose to exclude the disabled embryos, PGD causes discrimination against the disabled. It proves that the creation of designer babies is not as ethically and morally right as one may think.
There is no doubt that the process of designing children is a substantial advancement in the field of medicine. However, it is something that should be monitored. The notion of designer babies is an innovative one as it aims at supporting “healthy population but at the same time would mean too much control of humans, leaving nothing in the hands of nature”. Parents cannot use the reproductive genetic technologies to choose the sex of their children without any restrictions. If so, then such nations as India and China, which value more males than females, might use the procedure as means for ensuring that they get boys. It might also get to the point where women would only serve as means of reproducing. As a result, the government should monitor how geneticists use these processes, including the preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
In conclusion, taking into consideration the findings of the study, making a designer baby is both morally and ethically wrong. Despite the fact that genetic engineering might eliminate the occurrence of disabilities and disorders, geneticists should not be allowed to design children. The process causes the loss of individuality in children. The choice of traits and sex also confronts the moral norms of the Catholic Church while a high cost of such processes may create a gap in society. As a result, the government should carefully monitor the application of these reproductive genetic techniques.