The Ethical Implications Of Genetic Engineering Philosophy Essay
A designer baby is a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected through the use of genetic engineering techniques and in vitro fertilization. The Article, Parents can now pick a kid's sex and screen for genetic illness. Will they someday select for brains and beauty too? Dick Thompson discusses the new technology of genetically engineering babies aka Designer Babies. This genetic engineering can ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics. In the article Designer babies: Eugenics Repackaged or consumer option? By Stephen L. Baird states that �the forces pushing humanity towards attempts at self-modification, through biological and technological advances are powerful, seductive, ones that we will be hard-pressed to resist.�(Baird, Stephen pg.13) The decision to use these technologies will be up to today�s youth. In the article what choices should we be able to make about designer babies? Anita Shaw discusses a study on young people�s opinion on using new genetic technology on babies. The decision to allow the use of genetic engineering techniques will have extreme consequences on our society. In the Article, A moral case study for discussion: designer babies and tissue typing, Mario Sousa discusses the ethical aspects of designer babies.
The basic concept of designing your own baby gives parents the ability to pick and choose specific genetic traits in their children. Such traits include sex, genes free from genetic disorders, enhanced features such as intelligence, sporting ability or attractiveness. Today the process is still in the beginning phases of research and we can only affect a child�s sex and prevent some genetic diseases and disorders. In the future this technology may improve to the extent that parents will be able to improve a child�s mental and physical abilities. This could prove to be a problem because everyone wants what�s best for their child and this new technology could potentially give those who are rich enough to afford the genetic engineering for their children another unfair advantage. They would be able to enhance their children�s IQ, physical appearance, physical and mental health, physical and mental abilities. They would create a whole new super race of the most elite and genetically engineered people. It would cause the rich to become richer, smarter, healthier and genetically superior while the poor become poorer, less educated, sicker and even more subservient to the rich. The ability to control the human race in this way would cause a separation in society. They would be separated as those who have designer genes and those who don�t. Although there are many positive uses for genetically designing babies, there is too much power in this technology and in the wrong hands it could do a lot of damage.
Since the beginning of time the sex of a baby was determined by fate, but not anymore. Now future parents have access to the latest genetic techniques which can allow them to choose their baby's sex. Parents can now pick a kid's sex and screen for genetic illness. Will they someday select for brains and beauty too? By Dick Thompson discusses the new technology of genetically engineering babies aka Designer Babies. The technology is still fairly new so the only traits that can be identified are gender and about a dozen genetic diseases and it may be a few decades before parents are able to choose genetic characteristics of their child such as, how tall they'll be, what body type they will have, their hair and eye color, their IQ and personality type. ��It's the ultimate shopping experience: designing your baby," says biotechnology critic Jeremy Rifkin� (Thompson) The issues raised by genetic engineering techniques include, the fact that many parents will feel pressure to use genetic diagnosis to avoid having children with ADD, low IQ, or predisposed to homosexuality, it will become a competition to have the most perfect children and they will no longer be children, they will be machines. Yet, how can a parent choose to let their child be at a disadvantage? Who would choose to allow their children to be born with these characteristics disadvantages, and risk being seen as second-class citizens? Society will be split into two groups, �the "gen-rich" and the "gen-poor," those with and those without a designer genome.�(Thompson) It is hard to imagine a world like this but is I not a future that mirrors our past?
In order to understand the technology we are developing we must understand the technology that got us to where we are. In the article Designer Babies, Stephen L. Baird a technology teacher at Old Dominion University, explores the history of genetic engineering. The first and biggest step towards genetically enhances children, was the discovery of a genetic technique called in vitro. In vitro is a process where an egg and sperm are put in a test tube and make a �test tube� baby, the fertilized egg is then implanted in the mother�s uterus and she gives birth to a normal and healthy baby. At fist this technique was met with strong opposition but today it is a common procedure used by infertile couples. The next big breakthrough was the ability to transfer chromosomes through the understanding of reproduction at the cellular level. As our understanding of the cellular process grow so does our ability to affect human development. Baird believes that even though the idea of genetically enhanced children will be meet with opposition, once the world sees a genetically enhanced child the voices of opposition will be silenced. He compares this new technology of genetic enhancement to �The world�s first �test tube� baby [which] arrived amid a storm of protest and hand-writing about science gone amok, human animal hybrids, and the rebirth of eugenics. But the voices of those who opposed were silenced when Brown [the first test tube baby] was born.�(Baird 12) Baird claims that the demand for in vitro fertilization helped people come to terms with the idea and it soon became acceptable in our society and in time genetically enhanced human children will become accepted in society.
The future of designer babies rests in the hands of today�s youth; they will be the ones who decide how to use the technology. In the article what choices should we be able to make about designer babies? Anita Shaw did a study on young people�s opinion on using new genetic technology on babies. The test group was fourteen people between the ages of sixteen and nineteen; they explored the concept of designer babies in relation to inherited conditions, to save siblings and sex selection. The participants we accepting of designer baby technology. They found it to be acceptable for preventing inherited conditions and to create a child to save a sibling, but they did not agree with using it for sex selection. The study showed that most people are positive about science and technology, but there are still those who believe that some applications of genetics violate society�s religious and moral standards. A concern that was discussed in this study was that during the genetic enhancement of a child, accidental damage might be caused to the designed babies. Designer babies could be more susceptible diseases that a non-designed baby would be immune to. The genetically enhanced babies could form genetic mutations that could completely alter the human genetics. The ability to select sex could cause a future imbalance between the sexes in countries where male babies are valued higher than female babies. Some participants feared that society would become obsessed with perfection, causing increased social pressures to have designer babies. This would increase prejudice and discrimination against non-designed babies and could possible divide society into the designed and the non-designed.
A solution to the problem of segregation is to make sure the technology is available to everyone. In the Article, A moral case study for discussion: designer babies and tissue typing, Mario Sousa discusses the ethical aspects of designer babies. Sousa claims that because society accepts pregnancy termination, and prenatal and pre-implantation diagnosis, it will also be open to accepting designer babies. Sousa believes that society will be open to technologies that prevent ageing, cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, immunological, metabolic, and endocrine diseases. Sousa predicts that �society will allow selection of advantageous characteristics, such as longevity, beauty, stature, sex, physical power, emotional and technical intelligence and skills.�(Sousa) He bases this idea on the fact that the human race owes its dominance in the world to technological advances, which have enabled us to overcome obstacle of nature. On the Issue of designer babies, Sousa is prochoice, he believes that everyone should have access to the technology and should have the option to use it if they wish. Parents should have the option to protect their children from genetic diseases. We have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and if designer babies can help promote the general welfare than we should continue the technology. He acknowledges that designer babies could lead to segregation of the population, but believes that if we make the technology available to everyone, the problem will be solved.
The technological advances that have been made in genetics are causing people to worry about the future of the human race. How will this technology affect our future, will it change the world as we know it? Should parents be allowed to pick embryos for specific tissue types so that their new baby can serve as a donor for an ailing sibling? Should parents who have disabilities be permitted to select an embryo to produce a child with the same disability? Will unnatural selection of traits diminishing variability within the gene pool, and undo the effects of natural selection?
Technology is a way for people to advance themselves and if we try to stop it we will potentially be allowing our children to die of genetic deformities and diseases. If we want to protect our children and give them what is best for them then we should use the technology we have to prevent them from genetic diseases and deformities. If a parent is willing to spent the time and pay money the money to have a child through in vitro they should also be entitled to having a healthy and genetically enhanced child. There are many times when n a normal and natural pregnancy, that the baby is a miscarriage because it is not genetically fit enough to survive in to world so it dies in the womb, and if we could stop this from happening we would be able to genetically prevent the emotional strain that it puts on prospective parents. Preventing us from using this technology would be unfair to the children of the future with the predisposition to have a genetic disease or deformity.
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