Science / Designer Babies

Designer Babies

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Autor:  anton  30 October 2010
Tags:  Designer,  Babies
Words: 1013   |   Pages: 5
Views: 1379

Is it ethical to be able to choose the sex of a child, his or her specific traits, or genetic characteristics? This is an important topic that is up for debate, and although there does not seem to be any right or wrong answer, this is very controversial. Many people say that this could lead to human cloning and the possibility of eugenics- the practice of “improving” the human gene pool by eliminating undesirable results. Some good results can come from creating these children in that they could help people with diseases, such as cancer or a blood disorder.

The term “designer babies” is a term used by journalists and commentators to describe how the babies were created through several different reproductive technologies. Designer babies are made possible by three different fields: advanced reproductive technology, cell and chromosome manipulation, and genetics and genomics. There are several techniques used to help screen the embryos for high-risk disease, unknown diseases, or select the sex of a baby. Today it is even possible for a person to select traits that they want the baby to inherit such as eye color or an athletic ability.

The first designer baby successfully conceived was born in 1997. This was the first case in human genetic modification that resulted in a normal, healthy child. By 2002, 17 babies had been conceived at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St. Barnabas, a New Jersey fertility clinic. Instead of just having two parents, these children had three genetic parents: mother, father and mtDNA donor.

Some parents elect to create a baby to help another child. One such case emerged in 2000 when the Nashes ran out of choices and decided to have another child. They had a six-year-old girl named Molly, who was born with a rare genetic bone marrow disease, and unless she received a transplant from someone with the identical tissue type, she would die. Both Lisa and Jack Nash were carriers for Fanconi anemia, a genetic disorder, leaving them a one-in-four chance of having another affected child if they became pregnant again.

In August, Adam was born to the Nashes and was a perfect match of tissue type for their daughter. This extraordinary phenomenon was made possible through PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis through which each embryo was tested to see if it had Fanconi anemia. Then once this was done, the Nashes also decided to check to see which one carried Molly’s tissue type. In September, doctors performed a stem cell transplant on Molly, using blood taken at birth from Adam’s umbilical cord and his bone marrow. The Nashes today have two healthy children.

This also raises the questions, “What if they had this baby just for the purpose of Molly and then decided they did not want the baby anymore? What would become of the baby?” It might just be thrown aside or have to deal with abuse once it has served its purpose. Once the baby is born, there is no telling what it might have to deal with everyday of its life. It would be labeled once it was born and would be in the media eye, an experiment to follow and study. These possibilities need to be carefully considered and the welfare of the child needs to be taken into account.

The government does not really have any say it this right now because of the fact that this is a personal decision for couples. Although some people believe this is the same as cloning, there are no regulations as of today. This process is not as well known to the public as say others but everyday it is becoming more popular. Some day the government will have a say in this decision if this gets out of control but it is very pricey so only certain people can even afford it and some insurances do not even cover this process.

In the book My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, discusses what could happen if one of these designer babies did not want to help a sibling with a high-risk disease. This book is about two sisters, Kate and Anna, in which Kate has a form of cancer that is difficult to treat. The story is about how a family of five has centered their lives on Kate’s recovery and Anna is known as the person that will save her.

In the process, Anna has lost feeling like an individual and instead feels like a part of Kate. Every time Kate has to go to surgery, Anna does also, for her blood or marrow until one day Anna does not want to do it anymore and ends up going to a lawyer. It becomes a media frenzy, and Anna has to try to decide if she should try to save Kate’s life or save her own. This is not actually a true story but it is something that could one day happen and makes a point that designer babies are real people also, but what could happen if they stop becoming that. The possibility is more than feasible and is likely to one-day end up in the news.

Overall there are many mixed emotions about designer babies and many are worried it could lead to cloning or a society where everyone is the same. This topic leads to many questions about if it is morally right or not, and if the rights outweigh the wrongs. Although there are some good results about designer babies in that there may be no more diseases or defects, then again these children could become more of a scientific experiment. Many people think this is a great way to fix society, but many believe that this could help lead to our downfall. Only time will tell what will happen to the children and society because of it.

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