Sign of the Times – 10 Years on

 

 

In an article published January 6th 2007 in The Washington Post there appeared a story about the latest wrinkle in the eugenics revolution:

A Texas company has started producing batches of ready-made embryos that single women and infertile couples can order after reviewing detailed information about the race, education, appearance, personality and other characteristics of the egg and sperm donors. …

But the embryo brokerage, which calls itself “the world’s first human embryo bank,” raises alarm among some fertility experts and bioethicists, who say the service marks another disturbing step toward commercialization of human reproduction and “designer babies.” …

“We’re increasingly treating children like commodities,” said Mark A. Rothstein, a bioethicist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. “It’s like you’re ordering a computer from Dell: You give them the specs, and they put it in the mail. I don’t think we should consider mail-order computers and other products the same way we consider children.” …

The cost, convenience, prospects of success and ability to vet the donors all are attractive to Ryan’s clients — potentially not only infertile couples and single women but also gay men and lesbian couples. …

“People have long warned we were moving toward a ‘Brave New World,’ ” said Robert P. George of Princeton University, who serves on the President’s Council on Bioethics. “This is just more evidence that we haven’t been able to restrain this move towards treating human life like a commodity. This buying and selling of eggs and sperm and now embryos based on IQ points and PhDs and other traits really moves us in the direction of eugenics.” …

Children are now being fashioned to suit the preferences of their non-biological parents. Imagine a 16-year-old — or, for that matter, a 30-year-old — having to come to grips with the fact that his or her gender, IQ, eye-color, physical characteristics, athletic or musical abilities, and ensemble of genetic traits and predispositions were selected from available options by “parents” who were not , in fact, his or her biological parents after all. Thirty seconds reflection on this is enough to convince one that this dream is a nightmare.

As if this were not bizarre enough, it was later reported — in a study just published in the journal Fertility and Sterility — that some fertility clinics have helped clients select embryos with disabilities or defects — chosen to match the inherited disability of the child’s future parent(s) — such as deafness or dwarfism. It is not the first time those who are deaf or dwarfed or in some other way disabled have been reported to have elected to impose their disability on their offspring.

It may turn out that the greatest problem we face as this Brave New World overtakes us — wearing down our revulsion and taking on an aura of normality — is that the extreme misuses of genetic technology (at least until we grow accustomed to them) will run interference for the routine uses. The moral hideousness of the former will make the latter seem relatively innocuous by comparison.

This is precisely how moral catastrophes ripen. Does anyone think that Auschwitz or Buchenwald just appeared one day on the Polish and German landscape? No. Evil overtakes us in small, seeming innocuous ways, each incremental development merely the logical extension of a state of affairs to which everyone has previously grown accustomed.

(This was originally posted by Gil Bailie in January 2007 on www.gil-bailie.com)

Anyone interested in how this topic has developed over the past ten years should pay attention to the recent discovery of a very inexpensive and very precise method of editing individual genes called CRISPR/CAS9

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