Designer Babies: Should parents be able to genetically engineer the "perfect" child or is it unethical?

Jenn - posted on 03/24/2011 ( 28 moms have responded )

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When an LA based fertility clinic offered parents the choice to choose their child's sex, eye and hair color, public outrage ensued. The service employs the use of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or PGD, in which the cells of an early stage embryo are tested before being implanted in the mothers womb. Doctors then select an embryo with the desired physical traits such as blond hair and blue eyes - to continue the pregnancy, and discard any others. Those in opposition argue that the use of PGD for this service takes attention away from the fact that this technology can also be used to combat inheritable diseases. Also, if it gets to the point where parents are engineering the ideal child, what happens to all the embryo that have undesired trait combination's? The use of PGD for sex selection is currently outlawed in over 35 countries including Canada, Italy and the UK. So what is your opinion on this? Is this practice ethical? Is trait selection an appropriate use for this technological advancement? Would you ever consider such a service? Do you think it is acceptable for clinics to use this technology for cosmetic purposes or are they trying to "play god?"

For more info check out these articles:

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/27...

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/scie...
as-Misuse-of-Genetic-Counseling.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/articl...,9171,989987,00.html

http://www.mindmagazine.com/story/design...

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Barb - posted on 03/31/2011

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I think since this deals with IVF that it pretty well knocks nature out of the equation.

Meaning, I'm sure this is not the couple's first try at getting pregnant. Most couple's don't say; "let's have a baby" and then head on down to the lab, unless of course they are freaky like that.

Couples have tried and tried and tried nature and nature didn't work for them, so they went to science where science pulled several eggs from her and millions of sperms from him and introduced them over coffee in a petri dish. not natural.

And since many of the sperms find many of the eggs you have many embryos, but since this is not natural and since there is already an issue with these sperms and these eggs not getting along well, they don't seem to form right. So they do these tests to see which ones are getting along the best and which ones are dividing cells correctly and behaving properly.

And just like you wouldn't choose to make your morning omelet with a green smelly rotten egg when you have half a dozen very lovely healthy, fresh yummy eggs; you wouldn't choose to be impregnated with an embryo that wasn't dividing correctly and behaving improperly after you had spent all this time, expense, heartbreak, and effort trying the natural way to have a precious healthy child of your very own. Because who knows if you will ever be able to do this again? This maybe your only child.

I'm not saying anyone would love a child any less if they were less than perfect. That is obviously not true. Everyone's child is perfect to them if not for them. But people aren't swinging by the Costco and putting in an order for a blue-eyed blond on their way to pick up some milk. That is not what this science is for.

[deleted account]

Also i know a lot of the ladies here that are against it are saying that it is ok if the baby would have a disability that would ultimately end with the child dying quickly after birth. See i dont think the same i mean i understand the reasoning and i dont think that way of thinking is wrong however i dont agree with it. Now if ever i were to get pregnant with a baby that would not make it past a couple hours after birth of course i would be devasted and obviously if i were in that situation my train of thought would be differently however i feel that every thing happens for a reason i beleive we are given the children that we get for a purpose and even tho i would want to do everything in my power to prevent that from happening i cant say that i would want to go agasint nature to do that. I believe the children that are born with a death sentence are here for a special reason and they change the world even for that short period of time they are on this earth. Thats just me tho i really dont agree with messing with something as amazing as the creation of babies ( embryos).

Barb - posted on 03/27/2011

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The very first two paragraphs of the very first link are all about the healthy viability of the embryos and the undesirable consequences one would have to face if they were implanted with a known defective embryo. They fertilize several eggs with the plan to keep the best and discard the rest. They do not plan to use all the eggs they fertilize. Why would one choose to have the least desirable eggs implanted that had the least chance of viability?

I think to term this science as creating "designer babies" is to belittle it and is rather insulting to the amazing work they are doing giving life. I feel it is to inflame the senses and to make people fear it and be disgusted with it.

Here is the opening paragraph to the very first link of the very first article:

Preimplantation genetic testing is a technique used to identify genetic defects in embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) before pregnancy. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) refers specifically to when one or both genetic parents has a known genetic abnormality and testing is performed on an embryo to determine if it also carries a genetic abnormality. In contrast, preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) refers to techniques where embryos from presumed chromosomally normal genetic parents are screened for aneuploidy.

Now, i had to look up the word "aneuploidy" And here is that definition:

Aneuploidy is an abnormal number of chromosomes, and is a type of chromosome abnormality. An extra or missing chromosome is a common cause of genetic disorders (birth defects). Some cancer cells also have abnormal numbers of chromosomes.[1] Aneuploidy occurs during cell division when the chromosomes do not separate properly between the two cells. Chromosome abnormalities occur in 1 of 160 live births, the most common being extra chromosomes 21, 18 and 13.

The second paragraph was a very compelling argument for this type of science, paraphrasing here in case you don't want to read it. Would you rather embryos are tested to be healthy in the petri dish before implanted? or aborted from your uterus when they are discovered that they aren't? Or go through a still born birth?

Brandi - posted on 03/25/2011

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You aren't just having an opinion, though. I don't think it is a good idea. Doesn't mean I think anyone should be stopped from doing what they want to do. You want your opinion to legislate others.

Brandi - posted on 03/25/2011

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Are you comparing people who "design" their children to murderers, child abusers, and drug addicts?

Let's be serious here-you're smart enough to realize there are things that are universally wrong because they harm others and then there are things that some people just personally disagree with.

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[deleted account]

yea i definitely wouldnt judge someone thats just my opinion and something i just wouldnt partake in if i knew that i would most likely just have still births i just would stop trying to get pregnant and like u said adopt. But if its your first baby then of course you cant know unless of course you use the new technology. In that case i guess i really dont know where i would stand... If it were just for that person to see if your baby would die during the pregnancy.... but then again im not really for abortions and i suppose if you knew your baby wouldnt make it then you really wouldnt want to come full term with that baby therefor would want to discard it and pick another one. . . . hm thats a little tricky your pretty much choosing for that one not to grow but instead another to form in its place! Gah im confused ima have to come back to that! lol but in no way are my opinions judgements they are just how i feel and where i stand on the matter.



I guess pretty much how i feel is that nature should be in control not us. And if you were destined to have a still birth, altho terrible, must be for a reason. We shouldnt interfere with things that should be beyond our control.

Merry - posted on 03/30/2011

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Maria, I personally would never use any form of scientific help getting pregnant, but I wouldn't judge for someone wanting to avoid a still birth, especially if they went through one, or two or more dead babies already.
I think for myself if I couldn't conceive naturally I wouldn't mess with it and I'd adopt instead, but I can understand not being able to go through a still birth, specifically when you know it's likely to happen

[deleted account]

I think its ridiculous i mean its cool that we have the technology but i dont think it should be used i would never use this. This is just crazy we should just leave things to the natural way babies are supposed to be different and if they have a disabililty yes it would be sad but thats still your baby and thats the baby i had i would love them and see it as a special blessing. idk this kind of stuff is just freaky and i think it should be outlawed everywhere! Im glad i didnt know what my bella was gonna look like it was an awesome surprise to see this amazing little baby that we had made. And i wouldnt change her for the world

Merry - posted on 03/27/2011

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Like i said before, if the diagnosis of an embryo is definitely death, then I'd prefer it die in the embryonic state as opposed to at birth or sometime in the pregnancy.
But if it is not doomed to die upon birth then I think it's wrong to select anything. I'm also quite against people aborting fetuses based on deformities that are not deadly like cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, etc. These kids and adults can have full lives and I don't think it's doing anyone a favor by ending their life before it really begins.
But totally, when the verdict is death for a horrible deformity, I see this as a good thing because if the child is going to die no matter what, it would be nice to ease the pain of the parents as much as possible. And it's much easier to have a defective embryo die, then to have a still born baby. Or to decide to abort mid pregnancy due to finding out the baby is doomed anyways after you already have bonded to it and planned for it's future.

[deleted account]

I can understand the need for this science to help couples who wouldn't be able to have a healthy baby due to inherited deseases which would severely affect the babies quality of life but see no reason why it should ever be legal for couples to be able to choose the hair colour of their baby. What is wrong with allowing nature to take it's course and allowing the wonderful diversity of our species continue, personally I love that we are all different it would be incredibly boring if we all had blue eyes, blonde hair and 'perfect' figures (what ever that may be) - to me selecting things like this before birth is just an advancement on what Hitler tried to do with the Aryan race.

As for selecting gender I completely agree with Jodi, it will have huge repercussions on society if it becomes common practice (I understand that some people need the selection for true medical reasons and this is perfectly acceptable for me).

Merry - posted on 03/27/2011

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I think they aren't able to choose healthy and vital immune traits, I think they only can choose physical or chromosomal traits.correct me if I'm wrong.
If they could choose healthy embryos vs unhealthy ones 'minor variable of healthy' like no asthma no allergies no cancer no immune disorders then I'd be happy to see the human race be less sickly, but I think they can only test for chromosomal disorders and physical charecteristics.

Jayde - posted on 03/26/2011

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I don't think it's right- as they test all these embryos for their actual traits & they're not the ones the parents want and they're discarded well to me that's abortion. I know people will disagree with me but i don't care, it's my opinion & i really don't think people should be playing God. Why can't people just be happy with what they're blessed with? Whether a boy or girl with blue eyes or brown....

Barb - posted on 03/26/2011

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I wasn't particularly speaking of beauty, per se. I was meaning more along the lines of an advantage health wise.

Healthy is more desirable than unhealthy. A strong immune system is more desirable than a weak one. Stronger bones and an active metabolism are more desirable than fragility and obesity.

If you had to choose, which traits would you rather have for your child? If you were only allowed to have one child to carry on your bloodline, your lineage, to prove you ever existed, wouldn't you want that child to have the best chance at survival in a group of 7 BILLION other people?

If you were an employer who would you rather employ? Someone who was healthy and going to make it to work everyday? or someone who was going to constantly be sick and need time off?

And i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but studies have been done to show "beauty" discrimination in the workplace. Here is one such article: http://www.thepolitic.com/archives/2005/...
Or these by more reputable sources: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16755130/ns/...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/fashio...

Now, as horrible and deplorable as i think it is for people to be so shallow to discriminate against others for their looks, i'm also not so naive to think it doesn't exist. Just because i don't want it to be true, doesn't mean it is.

I also don't want birth defects to be true. I don't want Cerebral Palsy to be true, i don't want cancer to be true, but they all still are, dammit.

And i agree, brains are what get you far in life when beauty fades, like it will for us all, but the discrimination still exists whether i want it to or not.

Merry - posted on 03/26/2011

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Btu is being physically 'beautiful' by our societies standerd an advantage?
Evey culture has their own desirable traits, and some are complete opposites from others!
Our differences makes us important, if everyone looked the same then no one would have an advantage!
Besides, good looks really don't help you in life, it may seem to but looks fade and then what are you left with!

Barb - posted on 03/26/2011

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With the world population getting closer to 7 billion people, the death rate declining, the birthrate increasing, the food supply shortening; I can honestly see the need to be selective about the birth of your child. If your body is predestined to give birth to a child with a defect and you are only allowed to have one child, (like in china) then i would absolutely want this technology and i would want it developed to be safe and effective.
With so much competition for my child in the world, i would want them to have as many advantages as they could.

Jodi - posted on 03/25/2011

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Of course I own it. If I have an opinion on something, I haven't just pulled it out of someone else's arse. I have given it my own thought.

Jodi - posted on 03/25/2011

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Yes, that's right, I do, because I think it has VERY wide social implications that have a broader effect on the entire community, not JUST on the individuals who are making the decision. I believe it goes beyond an ethical concern. If that makes you think I'm self important, I really don't care. At least I have given thought to the wider impact, and not just on the selfish *wants* of an individual couple.

Just because I want to see others legislated doesn't make it any less just my opinion.

Jodi - posted on 03/25/2011

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I am also smart enough to be able to say that I don't think it is right and shouldn't be allowed without someone coming on here talking about people being self important for having an opinion. Just because I personally disagree with it being legal doesn't make me (or anyone else for that matter) self important at all. This is a debate board - where would it be without people who disagree with one another's view points?

Jodi - posted on 03/25/2011

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Well, knock me down, I must be really up myself then because I could rattle off a million things I think are wrong and no-one should do it......murder, child abuse, drag racing on public highways, herion, armed robbery, just to name a few.

Brandi - posted on 03/24/2011

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I just think people who feel that when they think something is wrong no one should be able to do it are a little self-important.

Brandi - posted on 03/24/2011

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I just think people who feel that when they think something is wrong no one should be able to do it are a little self-important.

Jodi - posted on 03/24/2011

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Jenn, IMO the same logic applies. I don't think it is right to use it simply as a want.

Brandi, I am kind of confused by what this has to do with whether you're important or not.......

Anyway, bottom line, I only believe it should be legal for medical reasons, not cosmetic/aestheticreasons or choice.

Brandi - posted on 03/24/2011

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People can do whatever they want with their bodies, eggs, and sperm. It's theirs. It not having my seal of approval doesn't mean they shouldn't be legally allowed to do it. Unlike others, I kinda realize I'm not that important.

Jenn - posted on 03/24/2011

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Just to clarify, they are not only allowing the choice of a boy or girl, they are also using it to allow parents to select traits they want their prospective child to have, such as blue eyes and blond hair. This same type of technology can also be used to prevent diseases that are inherited and to allow parents to have only the healthiest embryo implanted. So while there are legitimate reasons to use this technology to combat hereditary disease, some clinics are using it simply for cosmetic purposes so parents can choose their babies eye color, hair color, skin tone, etc..

Jodi - posted on 03/24/2011

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I'm against it with very few exceptions, because I think there are still far too many cultures that put greater value on having a boy, and this could lead to an imbalance in the population if it became too commonplace, and this could not possibly lead to anything positive.

As Laura said, unless there was a genuine genetic reason to avoid having a boy or girl, simply *wanting* a child of a particular sex, to me, is not sufficient reason. In my view, if we go around fucking with nature too much, it's going to come back and bite us on the arse.

Merry - posted on 03/24/2011

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I'm against it in every form exept for when the child in question has a deformity that will result in it's death.
So if the baby has downs syndrome, I would be against them discarding it. But if it had a double dwarfism gene then it's going to die regardless, so it's reasonable to not have it go through a whole pregnancy only to die upon birth.
Every other reason is absurd and ridiculous. And I hope it's all outlawed soon. Every embryo is a living growing human life, and none should be killed just for cosmetic reasons.

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