Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Designer Babies: A Right to Choose? | Wired Science from Wired.com


Designer Babies: A Right to Choose? | Wired Science from Wired.com

Wired.com has an interesting debate on creating designer babies. What I find interesting is the brief quotation in the introduction: the technology will, in a commercial world, get away from any ideals the creator of the technology might have had in mind.

"When a Los Angeles fertility clinic offered last month to let parents choose their kids' hair and eye color, public outrage followed. On March 2, the clinic shut the program down — and that, says transhumanist author James Hughes, is a shame.

According to Hughes, using reproductive technologies — in this case, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), in which doctors screen embryos before implanting them — for cosmetic purposes is just an old-fashioned parental impulse, translated into 21st century technology.

If nobody gets hurt and everybody has access, says Hughes, then genetic modification is perfectly fine, and restricting it is an assault on reproductive freedom. "It's in the same category as abortion. If you think women have the right to control their own bodies, then they should be able to make this choice," he said. "There should be no law restricting the kind of kids people have, unless there's gross evidence that they're going to harm that kid, or harm society."

Hughes' views are hardly universal. "I'm totally against this," said William Kearns, the medical geneticist who developed the techniques used by the Fertility Institutes for cosmetic purposes, in a newspaper interview. In the same article, Mark Hughes, one of the inventors of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, called its non-therapeutic use "ridiculous and irresponsible."

Labels: , , , ,