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Demosthenes's avatar

What do you think of "designer babies"?

Asked by Demosthenes (12763points) January 28th, 2019

The technology to edit genes in embryos already exists. How much editing do you think should be allowed in the future and what would you personally be interested in as far as editing the genes of your offspring?

It’s one thing to edit genes to eliminate genetic diseases and birth defects. But what about editing for eye color, nose shape, gender, likelihood of being tall?

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19 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

It feels 100% wrong. What if they specify certain traits, aiming for beauty, but the kid somehow comes out looking ugly. What then?

canidmajor's avatar

Your details are very specific to the times and the new technology, but after all is said and done the concept of eugenics is ages old and all the ethical questions still exist and are as unanswerable as to appropriateness now as they ever were. The slope is too slippery, the sword is still double-edged.

Once the processes are fine-tuned, there will undoubtedly be abuses, but realistically those abuses will likely be few and far between. I believe that the numbers of genetically modified babies will be so low as to not register on any meters. People believe that treatments for infertility are “unnatural” and “immoral”, or having biological children at all when so many already need families, or that single women, or same sex couples, or mixed race couples, etc etc etc.

Everything is subject to abuses or graft, this will be no different, I would like to believe that the benefits will far outweigh the bad stuff.

gorillapaws's avatar

I think GATTACA should be required viewing in the designer-baby era.

The opportunity for discrimination will be profound and it will be divided along class lines: the genetically “superior” elites ruling over the “unpure.” It sure sounds like a recipe for some pretty evil shit to me.

Zaku's avatar

The only such system that seems possibly somewhat moral to me, would be if the sperms and egg DNA could be scanned before conception and then certain known extremely bad gene combos were not chosen. I don’t think that technology will exist for a long time.

seawulf575's avatar

@gorillapaws that is EXACTLY what I was thinking. That is a scary movie in many ways.

gorillapaws's avatar

@seawulf575 “That is a scary movie in many ways.”

For sure, but just to clarify for people who haven’t seen it, the film is not a horror film and it’s only scary in the sense that it’s very troubling to see a dystopian future that feels like there is a good chance it could come to be.

Having said all of that, I do think we should be researching genetics, especially with regards to how to prevent and treat disease. It may be possible that we can eliminate some pretty horrible conditions one day, and that might be worth the risk of genetic manipulation.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

I think every parents has a right for that, it’s part of their own cell anyway. We can change our gender, skin color, body hormones, etc so it goes without saying that we can do whatever we wants with the gene of a life vessel that we made.

raum's avatar

The rates of Down Syndrome in Iceland

An interesting and related debate. Prenatal screening for birth defects. Does neutral genetic counseling exist? Or is just offering a test already a push in a certain direction?

LostInParadise's avatar

Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel put into words the horror I feel at the thought of having designer babies.

ucme's avatar

Stop the world I want to get off.

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