03 Jun Designer Babies and Reproductive Freedom: Where Should the Line Be Drawn?
If you knew that your child might be born with a genetic disorder or mutation, or was predisposed to cancer as a result of analysis of the in-utero fetus’s genetic make-up, would you alter the fetus’s genes? If you and your partner were of the same sex, and you decided to have a child through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), should you be restricted from using three people’s DNA to create the offspring? These are just two examples of the movement of reproductive freedom and rights; but as science progresses, where is the line drawn between reproductive freedom, designer babies, and eugenics?
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Newer Technologies
In the past, IVF was considered mad science. Now it is a popular form for many couples in need of fertility help so as to have biological children. In the last year, the debate has moved from fertility help to genetic modification of the genetic material for fetuses. Many parents, if they could, would choose to alter the genetic material of their fetuses to erase any indicators of genetic diseases, disorders, disfigurement, and predisposition to cancer. Though this sort of modification is thought to help eradicate genetic disorders from the human genome, there is a question as to what is considered a “disorder.” If not careful, “disorder” could be broadly interpreted; for example, genetic material for “brown eyes” or “blue eyes” could be the next on the editing block, if given the right argument.
Who Could Genetic Editing Help?
On average each year, there are around 7.9 million children born with a serious genetic disorder; and with 30 percent of the population dying from genetic diseases before the age of 70, gene editing has become a frontrunner with regards to imagining a solution to many of our genetic defects. However, the fear of parents picking and choosing the genetic makeup of their children for what is in “vogue” can have a significant, widespread impact on the destruction of our population; our world survives as a result of diversity within our genes and genetic make-up.
Advocates and Critics of Designer Babies and Reproductive Technologies
Though designer babies are still a few years out, scientists and researchers have been working diligently, especially abroad, on perfecting cloning procedures and other embryo modification work. IVF and other fertility methods were the first steps toward reproductive freedom, providing a scientific way for couples that could not otherwise have offspring. Many believe that these fertility methods are already an abuse, citing the perceived role of scientists as “playing God” in the laboratory. Others believe that as long as the embryos are coming from their body, reproductive freedom is guaranteed to these individuals to decide how, when, and for what purpose to use these embryos.
What Protections Can and Should Be In Place?
The issue that becomes more and more relevant as China, the U.K., and the United States race to see who can successfully modify human genes surrounds the protections that can and should be put into place. Regulations should be enacted once the technology becomes more viable; waiting any time between putting regulations in force could lead to significant abuse for those who want to pick their child’s genetic makeup like they would accessory shopping. Regulations could help ensure that only truly genetic defects are edited out, like Tay-Sachs disease, rather than cosmetic editing. But, regulations should also step the fine line where reproductive freedom is not being limited where it does not need to be.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Area
When embryos and children are at the center of the debate, there can be significant arguments arising from not only their upbringing but also, custody issues. The experienced family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC have practice in ensuring that parental rights are protected. Contact us today for an initial and confidential consultation.