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Designer Babies Or Superheroes?: Ethical Considerations

1197 words - 5 pages

Do you remember when you were young and always wanted to be a superhero? Today, you can virtually create your own child superhero by genetic engineering and designer babies. What color eyes and hair would it have? Would you make it smart, athletic, or both? These are all possible if you choose designer babies instead of natural conception. Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen first established genetic engineering in 1973 (Bellis 1). It wasn’t until around 1996 when they first started to allow parents to choose their babies gender. Though most states do not allow for such detailed genetic engineering to take place, scientists are still conducting research so it will be a more common choice. ...view middle of the document...

Agar explains that the Oxford English Dictionaries definition for designer babies is, “a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with in vitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics” (Agar 1). Now parents can have their perfect child, but how safe is it when the process was originally used for plants?
Selecting the specific traits a parent wants in their child depends on the amount of embryos. Some traits require more than just one gene and that is very difficult for doctors to find. On the contrary, some genes carry more than one effect leading to unknown traits that are found later in life. Nicholas Agar’s research on the geneticists who practiced genetic engineering on mice found this to be true. The evidence from the mice concludes, “not only to have improved powers of learning and memory, but also to have a greater sensitivity to pain, an enhancement of more dubious desirability” (Agar 1). Sarah Ly explains, “The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs released a statement in 1994, in support of using genetic selection as a means to prevent, or cure specific diseases, but that selection based on benign characteristics was not ethical” (Ly 1). Nothing is certain because this is a new process still needing a lot of development. Laurie Goering interviewed Mark Hughes, director of the Detroit-based Genesis Genetics Institute, who said, “no one in their right mind, or even out of it, would go through the psychological and financial hoops for something trivial” (Goering 2).
People want the best for their children, trying to push them to be the best they can be. Now parents can make their child perfect before he or she is even born, but is it worth the safety hazards to assure you have a smart, athletic, good looking child? In the article Genetic Engineering from HowStuffWorks, it states that, “after the death of a gene therapy research subject in 1999, and the discovery that some researchers were violating federal guidelines by not reporting side effects, federal health officials instated closer monitoring of human gene therapy trials” (Genetic Engineering 1). They continue to talk about how hard it is to insert the new desired genetic material and how sometimes the immune system will destroy the genetically engineered cell.
Robert Klitzman, a reporter for CNN, explains how both us humans and the doctors do not know enough about this procedure stating, “more education of both physicians...

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