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Life Issues: January 9, 2007

Designer Babies?

The Family Research Council's Washington Briefing draws attention to the rising practice and acceptance of eugenics as reflect in a recentABC News article:
Imagine a baby that was made-to-order, with eye color, hair color and other characteristics predetermined. Thanks to a controversial new embryo bank, these "designer babies," as critics describe them, are no longer science fiction. They're reality, and they're fueling a heated debate. The Abraham Center of Life in San Antonio lets parents choose the physical traits and even personality of the donors. Would-be parents unable to have children naturally say the bank is a dream come true. "People want babies. We can make them babies. What's the big deal?" said Jennalee Ryan, who runs the center.
The big deal, according to the FRC, is that the baby center is in the body bartering business, selling people for profit:
As the first "commercial dealer" of embryos, the Abraham Center is a prime example of the growing acceptance of eugenics as a reproductive right rather than what it really is--an ethical landmine. America was a "house divided against itself" on the matter of slavery. Fighting a brutal civil war over the question of whether one human being was fit to own another, buying and selling slaves like cattle on the auction block. Now there are some who think that the buying and selling of human life is justified if the auction block is a tank of liquid nitrogen and the bill of sale is a posting on the Internet. On this our nation risks another deep division that cannot stand.
Robert George, a bioethicist at Princeton University is quoted by ABCNews, aptly stating, "Human beings are not commodities. They're not products. They're not things that ought to be manufactured, and bought and sold. They're not subject to quality controls."
Paradoxically, Jennalee Ryan, who runs the Center, lets her clients choose the race, education, appearance, and other genetic traits of individual sperm and egg donors while claiming, "People that come to me aren't doing it because they want designer babies. They just want a baby." Ryan asserts, "As far as I'm concerned, [it's] not only ethical. What I'm doing, it's very moral." Why? Because she's "just giving her clients what they want." There is a subtle selfishness in the statement, "They just want a baby," an implication that is left unspoken. The child is theirs, it's for them. They have a certain need that motivates an unnatural power over their baby's attributes that was previously left in the hands of the Creator. The child is designed by them and for their own purposes, with expectations reflected by the genetic characteristics they select. No, this is not just a sentimental desire for a baby. It is a neatly packaged genetic revolution that spurns the true dignity of the human child while exalting the desires of the parent. Nigel M. de S. Cameron, of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, previously wrote:
if we understand that the fundamental issue is one of control, we see a subtle and sinister threat in designer babies that puts the old barbarities of abortion in the shade. This new kind of crime does not simply destroy people made in God's image; it makes people in our own. We can no more weigh this new crime against the old than we can, to take a parallel case, weigh homicide against life-long enslavement; or, to take another highly relevant parallel, the crime of Cain against Abel against the thoroughly technological hubris of the builders of the Tower of Babel. The new class of crime threatens to transcend the old. Abortion, the killing of the unwanted and defective, comes into its own as a subset in the eugenic, designer, control agenda of the brave new biotech world.

Posted by tim at January 9, 2007 7:39 AM

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