Thursday, May 10, 2007

Unnatural Selection Continued: Slippery Slopes

We have pre-natal tests for all sorts of things. That's not a problem if the goal is to treat the diseases they detect for the sake of the child.

Now, a British clinic is already screening for non-life-threatening"cosmetic defects", and "creating" a baby for a couple who fears their children may inherit a severe squinting problem from their father. This means creating several embryos (presumably in-vitro), and then "selecting" the one that does not inherit the genetic disorder. What happens to the others? The article is careful not to say.

Where will this end?

We start off with screening for life-threatening illnesses, and then suggest to parents that it is better for their children to die in the womb than to face even a few short months outside of it.

Then we move on to non-life threatening, but still severe defects.

Then what? Mild diseases? Vision problems? Crooked teeth? Vulnerability to obesity? Bee allergies? Migraines?

Here's the creepiest bit about what is happening at this British clinic:

When asked if he would screen embryos for factors like hair colour, he [Prof Gedis Grudzinskas, who is responsible for the project in question] said: "If there is a cosmetic aspect to an individual case I would assess it on its merits.

"[Hair colour] can be a cause of bullying which can lead to suicide. With the agreement of the HFEA, I would do it.

"If a parent suffered from asthma, and it was possible to detect the genetic factor for this, I would do it.

"It all depends on the family's distress."

Athsma? I know tons of people who have varying degrees of athsma. Many are in my own family. The distress is minimal, thanks to the available treatments. Are we to be pitied? Seen as having inferior lives because we need an inhaler? I don't think so.

And the idea that a parent's neurotic anxiety over a child's HAIR COLOR would be a reasonable justification for playing God is just absurd.

Watch Gattaca, people. Please.

Before we find ourselves living that "not too distant future".

Related: My previous post.

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