Friday, March 25, 2005

Brave New World

The issues concerning genetics of the unborn are going to get a lot more complicated soon. According to a recent study in the UK, parents using fertility treatments are going to have a choice on the sex of their babies. Opponents warn that this could very easily open the door to "designer babies;" babies where the parents could choose the hair color and eye color and other such features of their babies.

This is a difficult issue for me to take a strong stand on either way. I’ll try to give my reasoning on both sides of the issue. If there is some critical issue that would sway the balance either way, feel free to comment.

Arguments for
Genetic diseases are some of the most de-habilitating. Curing things like Muscular Dystrophy, Down Syndrome, Leukemia, Alzheimer's, etc. can't be a bad thing. Most of these can probably be prevented or cured with further genetic study. These things make life out to be a valuable thing; life is a precious thing--given from God himself--so we ought not take it lightly.

Arguments against
The side effects of a lot of this research could be bad. If we know how to remove certain genetic diseases, we'll probably know how to determine a child's hair color, etc before they are born. Allowing people to pick and choose certain "features" of their kids turns them into a sort of "consumer commodity." Here life is devalued because having a child is no different than choosing a new car. The social ramifications of this are quite scary. If babies are commodities, then they are also expendable. Abortions will probably become more prevalent--an on demand service (I hope we aren't already to this level of service). It is also probable that family will become more and more devalued. As science becomes our god, we'll depend on it more and more to raise the children. Why if there are genes that control hair color, there are probably genes that determine a person's personality--perhaps not.
The crux of this argument is that life is not special. This could provide us with a culture of death where a person’s life is no more valuable than a car.

Don’t take the longer paragraph against to mean I sway in that way. The arguments for are very powerful. Modern medicine has done a tremendous amount of good in preserving and bettering people's lives. The key thing to realize here is that just because science can do something doesn't mean that it should. So, should parents be able to choose the gender of their babies?


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