People strive for progression in order to move forward with the changing times. As scientific technology progresses, people begin to move towards the bright idea of perfection. This could be seen in the concept of designer babies. A designer baby is a baby that has its genes specifically chosen in order to ensure that a certain gene is or is not present. This concept brings about many questions regarding the safety and the ethics of choosing specific traits for a child.
The articles “The art of medicine: Designer babies: Choosing our children’s genes,” by Bonnie Steinbock and “Children to Order: The Ethics of ‘Designer Babies’” by Tia Ghose, both discuss some of the ethical views and opinions concerning the controversial topic of designer babies. Although designer babies are currently still just a concept being discussed, rather than a reality, many people support designer babies and many people oppose it. If designer babies were to be created, the actual implementation of the theory would most likely answer most of the current ethical questions, while also creating many more.
People strive for progression. As time moves forward, people attempt to move forward with the time. This is done through the renewal of older methodologies and concepts. If a certain aspect cannot be renovated to improvement, it is eradicated. This ideology can be seen with the rise of the technologies in the science field, especially with respect to genetics. Currently, scientists have the ability to examine the genome of an embryo. Upon examining the genome of the embryo, scientists are able to determine the possible genetic disorders.
This is when the concept of designer babies comes into play. A designer baby is a baby that has genetic interventions into the pre-implantation embryo in the attempt to influence the traits the resulting children will have (Steinbock 2008). This means that the baby has its genes specifically chosen in order to ensure that a certain gene is or is not present. This allows one to remove any possible defects that are present within a child or to warrant that a particular characteristic is present.
The screening of embryos is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis and it is performed through in vitro fertilization (IVF) (Ghose 2014). IVF is done through the retrieval of an egg during ovulation of the female, the insemination and fertilization of the egg, the genetic screening of the egg within the first five days of the insemination, and the transfer of the healthy embryo back into the mother to continue with the development of the child. In this method, one is able to exclusively decide what characteristics are important enough to be a part of the genome of the developing child.
The first designer baby was conceived in the mid-1990’s when an embryologist named Jacques Cohen promised a new technique to help infertile women who have undergone repeated, unsuccessful attempts at IVF (Brownlee 2002). This technique is called cytoplasmic transfer and the concept was to take the egg of an infertile woman and inject it with the cytoplasm of fertile women. In 1997, the first baby conceived through cytoplasmic transfer was born, but there was much controversy over the issue once his paper was published.
The resulting child had three parents, the mother, the father, and the mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, donor (Brownlee 2002). Although this topic is not very new, the controversy over the it still remains. When the topic of designer babies is presented, there is a multitude of ethical reasons that arise; one important concept is the questioning of how safe it is. The side effects of such a process are still unknown. Although the transfer of the DNA could be successful, there is a great possibility of a reshuffling of the entire genome.
Assuming that the transfer and selectivity is completely safe, can it truly be considered ethical? In the article titled, “The art of medicine: Designer babies: Choosing our children’s genes,” Bonnie Steinbock discusses the ethics behind the concept of designer babies. The first ethical question brought up was regarding the safety of this method. Other ethical reasons include the present fear that there could be an abuse of this innovative technology or that this methodology interferes with the path of nature.
Steinbock brings up the argument that parents who are willing to spend a large sum of money to ensure a child has certain traits shows that the parents have a perfectionistic quality that is incompatible with a good parenting style (Steinbock 2008). This article is only one of many that discusses the ethics of designer babies. Similarly, the article “Children to Order: The Ethics of ‘Designer Babies’” by Tia Ghose also discusses the ethical issues behind this topic. Ghose argues that being able to determine the sex of the baby could potentially lead to a sex-discrimination against women in society.
This article also brings up the idea that if a parent was able to choose the traits of the child, this can worsen the relationship between the parent and the child, due to the fact that this can parents could be presented with tyrannical expectations (Ghose 2014). If a parent is able to dictate the traits of the child, this could hypothetically put pressure on the child that should also have the rest of his life dictated. Both of the articles discuss multiple ethical concepts behind the topic of designer babies.
One common ethical concept brought up between the both of them is the idea that: suppose a child is given the trait of being a good musician. This would be unethical, due to the fact that one would be forcing the child to be a musician, when it is possible that the child would rather be an athlete. Steinbock negates this argument when stating that this would make no sense, due to the fact that a child could have a certain talent but that child is not necessarily required to act upon that talent.
Designer babies are currently still just a concept being discussed, rather than a reality. Just as with most arguments, many people support designer babies and many people oppose it. It is difficult to argue the ethics behind a topic that is still not a reality and there are many possible outcomes. If designer babies were to be created, the actual implementation of the theory would most likely answer most of the current ethical questions, while also creating many more.