Gucci. Louis Vuitton. Prada. Versace. We live in a world that is obsessed with status and designer brands. We live in a world where we are looked down upon by the upper class if we wear generic brands or even brands like Old Navy. Could you imagine living in a world where you are looked down upon for being genetically inferior to the physical elite? In a country where we have worked for hundreds of years to eliminate discrimination, incorporating “designer babies” into our culture would take discrimination to another level.
Eugenics is defined by dictionary.com as, “the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population.” With all of the new technology in today’s world, it is becoming much more feasible to choose the traits of your baby. The issue that we face with eugenics is, is it ethical? Of course it’s not. Eugenics is not a new issue, though. We can look back to 1907, right here in Indiana, when our governor passed a bill allowing the sterilization of "confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles and rapists” (IUPUI, 2007). It wasn’t until 1974 that this law was repealed, due it being found unconstitutional.
While there are some beneficial outcomes to eugenics, the negatives far outweigh the positives. The first and most obvious negative is that it could create a gap in society. At what point do the genetically superior start to overrule the inferior, natural humans. This was very apparent in the movie, Gattaca. We saw a very serious divide in the movie between the superior “valids” and the inferior “in-valids.” One may think, “it’s just a movie, this would never actually happen.” But we see, time and time again, the harsh divide between the upper, middle, and lower classes. There is a constant battle for equality in this world. Would being able to go “shopping” for your baby’s traits really be a step in the right direction? No, it wouldn’t. This would only be a kick in the face to everything that we have accomplished, as the human race, in the past 300 years. Another reason for concern is it takes the nature out of “mother nature.” Dr. Paul Root Wolpe, professor of bioethics and Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University, argues, “We should clearly make it against the law in the U.S. to use CRISPR or any other tool of genetic engineering to alter the human germline at this point. I believe that there will come a time in the future when the benefits of such interventions may outweigh the risks, but we are not near that point now” (Shapiro, 2016). Designer babies, at this time, are simply just too risky. With more knowledge and more time to educate ourselves on the topic, we could re-evaluate this issue.
As I look at many of the issues in this world, an abundance of them involve letting mother nature take its course. A good example of this is when we look at steroids in the world of sports. Above all else, taking steroids is the biggest taboo that an athlete could possibly involve themselves in. These players are looked down upon by many, including the fans, coaches, and managers. It is considered cheating to boost the athletic potential that mother nature gave you. If we cannot, as spectators, get used to these people injecting themselves with a few growth hormones, how could we possibly get used to the idea of creating genetically superior humans? The last, and most important issue to me, is that you would no longer be a product of your parents. We constantly hear people say things like, “you have your dad’s eyes” or “you look just like your mom when you smile.” One of the beauties of being a parent, is that you made that child. Knowing that 50% of your child came from you has got to be one of the best feelings in the world, one that I hope to feel one day. These cons are very important, cons that absolutely must be evaluated before we even think about using eugenics as a tool in our lives.
Though eugenics does have some detrimental negatives, it also has some positives. If we were to start creating “designer babies,” the risk for genetic diseases could be dramatically reduced. A few example of these genetic diseases are, down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia. These are clearly awful diseases. If we have the chance to diminish the chance of getting these diseases, we should certainly evaluate the options. Mike Orcutt, of the MIT Technology Review, says that a new bill outlawing human testing of gene-editing, “has flustered proponents of a promising technique that could help mothers avoid passing certain devastating genetic disorders to their children” (Orcutt 2016). Designer babies could be very beneficial for parents carrying certain genetic diseases. Another pro for eugenics is that you could choose the gender and appearance of your child. When someone finds out they are going to be a parent, they have a preference in mind, no matter what they say. Being able to choose the child’s gender could make the entire process much less strenuous. Theoretically, you could choose the child’s traits such as hair color, eye color, and even personality. It is easy to want your child to have a simple and easy life. If you could have a kid that is blonde haired, blue eyed, and has a humorous and amicable personality, it would be very tempting.
I have shown you why I think that eugenics could be detrimental to the human race. With the possibility of a gap in society and disrupting mother nature, I don’t believe that we will see eugenics in everyday society anytime soon. While the idea of eradicating some pretty horrible diseases is very satisfying, the risk is just not worth they payout. Eugenics is only a minor issue in today’s society. No, we don’t see it in the presidential debates, and we don’t see it at the top of news sites like CNN. But, as time goes on, and technology becomes even more advanced, it will become a very topical issue. When we are watching to 2032 or 2036 elections, don’t be surprised when you see the candidates discussing the topics of designer babies and eugenics.
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