A fertility clinic in LA has finally gone all the way.
They are now offering “designer babies,” meaning their clients can request certain traits for their babies like dark skin or blue eyes. The clinic has not yet delivered on this promise, but is offering it nonetheless.
I get the feeling that when people hear the term “designer babies” they think that the scientists are somehow doing the designing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is one Designer and He has no rival.
Scientists can no more cause a baby to have green eyes than the man on the moon. They are not creating or giving babies certain genes, they’re not even modifying genes, they’re simply killing off the embryos that have the unwanted genes.
They used to limit this killing to “extra” babies; for instance the couple who makes 10 embryos, but doesn’t want 10 babies, so they only implant 2. The rest would be killed. This has also involved killing off the embryos that had “defects.” Like the ones with downs syndrome or a likely hood of disease.
Now scientists search through embryos for the couples (or singles, to be sure) until they get the combination of eyes, nose and health that is desirable for them. The scientists aren’t designing the baby with the desired traits, they simply screen the embryos until the desired result is found, then kill off the rest.
The BBC reports:
The science is based on a lab technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. This involves testing a cell taken from a very early embryo before it is put into the mother’s womb.
Doctors then select an embryo free from rogue genes – or in this case an embryo with the desired physical traits such as blonde hair and blue eyes – to continue the pregnancy, and discard any others.
The Wall Street Journal seems to misunderstand what is actually being done in PGD. They say:
While PGD has long been used for the medical purpose of averting life-threatening diseases in children, the science behind it has quietly progressed to the point that it could potentially be used to create designer babies.
Let’s be clear. PGD is not used to “avert life-threatening diseases in children.” It is the life-threatening disease. PGD kills the embryos that show any proclivity to imperfection. So it is not protecting children. It is protecting parents from the “hardship” of having a child with imperfection.
Not only that, PGD doesn’t “create” anything. It eliminates (scientists like to use the word “selects” cause it sounds better). I can’t believe the way this is being reported. As though the slippery slope is just beginning with designer babies.
Wake up! We already slid down the slope when we started eliminating the embryos with potential “problems.” I’m riled up. Can you tell?