Back in 1997, Hollywood envisioned a world where “designer babies” would proliferate the world in the movie Gattaca. The so-called perfect babies are the product of what was then an imaginary genetic testing method. during that time, genetic testing was not even a real word yet. Who would have known that a decade later, Hollywood’s imagination would be turned into reality by fertility specialists? Originally envisioned to aid parents in discovering what genetic illnesses they may have passed on to the unborn child, these days, the original goal of the project, which is to help parents to make informed decisions about pregnancy has taken a negative trend. Due to the technical advancements in the area, the possibility to choose the sex of a child, choosing the most healthy embryos, using donated sperms and eggs, has given man an almost godlike quality to create a life or prevent life from coming to be.
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This quest to have the most perfect child is something that I totally disagree with. Diseases or imperfections in a people’s genetic makeup are what make us human beings. If God had meant us to be perfect, he would have created us that way. But the reality is that mankind will always have imperfections and there is nothing science can do to prevent it or lessen its occurrences. Every embryo has a right to become a fetus and then eventually a human being. Nobody has the right to dictate which fetuses pass or fail via genetic testing. A disease most often stems from a genetic or development malfunction on the part of the parent’s DNA. It is this imperfection that makes one a biological child of a parent. Without the hereditary imperfection, a parent cannot call a child his for they no longer share common traits.
Due to the newness of the field of genetic testing, there is no uniform governing policies to be followed by the agencies that implement them. Consider it a wild frontier where anything a potential parent wants to do can happen and nobody can stop them from doing it. However, I believe that it is not the right of anybody to dictate what traits they wish to see in their potential child. Even if it were true that genetic manipulation became a reality and we can kill off the disease gene or the criminal gene, the reality is that we will only open the door to another genetic evolution that future human beings will be prone to and have to deal with.
Should it become important and relevant to choose the characteristics of a potential child though, The characteristics that are chosen should be based upon moral and social concepts, as well as parental choices. Perhaps the most important characteristic would pertain to the genetic variations and mutations that cause severe physical and mental disabilities in children. To be specific, I would concentrate on the genes that cause DNA mutations that are harmful and could prevent the normal functions of a specific DNA base sequence. Perhaps even eliminate the single-gene diseases that produce autosomal diseases, autosomal recessive diseases, and X-linked diseases. Aside from these aforementioned DNA base sequence mutations, everything else, from the color of the eyes of the child to his height, should all be left in the hands of nature and heredity.
Again, I must reiterate that I do not favor the genetic manipulation of embryos in order to suit the wants and whims of a parent. Being a parent is not something that can be designed to suit our wants and needs, it is a responsibility for another human being who came from our very own DNA sequence. Regardless of the characteristics and shortcomings of the child, he or she is still the flesh and blood of the parent.
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Clayton, Ellen Wright, M.D., J.D. (2003). Ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic medicine. The New England Journal of Medicine. 349;6, 562-568.
Mallia, Pierre. (2003). Biomedical ethics: genetics. StudentBMJ. 11, 320-321.
New York State, Department of Health. (2001). Genetic Testing And Screening In the Age Of Genomic Medicine. 2008. Web.