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GATTACA Comes to Life in PGD2 min read

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Today, we can screen unborn fetuses for abnormalities.  Currently, up to 90% of Down’s Syndrome fetuses are currently aborted before birth, and a recent report from Britain shows that parents are now even aborting for such treatable maladies as club foot and cleft palate.

But now, we can choose BEFORE implantation – designer babies are a reality.  How is the “design” done?  As in the recent case of a British woman, “fertility engineers” screened fertilized embryos for the right genetic combo needed to provide bone marrow for her existing son who has a blood disorder.

But let’s go one step further.  Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) now allows us to screen pre-implanted embryos for over 6000 markers for genetic disease, and eliminate the ones that have too many markers.

So, how do we navigate this morally?  We have to answer these questions for both abortion and pre-implantation selection:

  • Why are we not more active on opposing sex-seletion abortion?  What about the ethics of sex-selection of embryos?  What about simpler forms of sex selection like alkaline deuches before sex?  Where and how do we draw the line, if at all?
  • Is it OK to use abortion to eliminate a baby that is the “wrong” gender, or has the possibility of being of the wrong “gender orientation”? (the latter is not possible yet because no genetic markers or causes for homosexuality have been identified), or has a treatable malady?  I doubt it.

And if the embryo in a dish is NOT a person (as I have argued, along with (ugh) liberals), is it ok to choose one embryo over another?  Are we, like China, going to cause ourselves all kinds of problems by offesetting the male/female ration, or even more importantly, skewing the gene pool and removing diversity?