Society of Bioethics and Medicine
Written by Aisha Abid
Edited by Faith Singh
Many technological advancements have occurred over time, allowing for improvements in many sectors of the health industry. While there have been many technological advancements, there still remains concerns regarding the ethicacy of certain techniques, such as Human Genetic Engineering. Genetic Engineering is the practice of using selective reproduction, gene selection, and gene modification to enhance genetic quality. This gives parents the option of selecting characteristics, sex, the ability to eliminate undesirable qualities, and the ability to favor desirable qualities. With this technological advancement, it is now feasible to choose genotypic and phenotypic characteristics. These selection procedures allow for the reduction of unwanted characteristics while increasing favorable ones, raising concerns about ethical morality. Many individuals believe that improving desired characteristics like athletic ability, intellect, or certain features poses ethical concerns because it is an attempt to create the "ideal" child.
It is argued that eugenics does not include the elimination of unwanted characteristics such as illnesses or abnormal traits. Nevertheless it is regarded as a component of eugenics, specifically negative eugenics, which aims to eliminate sickness and incapacity. Many couples can choose to have a child who will not be at risk of inheriting a condition like sickle cell anemia. However, positive eugenics, which aims at enhancement, would include selecting the baby's gender, or physical characteristics such as hair color. This aspect of genetic engineering poses ethical concerns since it might lead to perfectionist subjectivity. Parents would consider attributes like athletic ability, intelligence, dexterity, and eyesight as examples of desired characteristics. It is argued that parents should have the right to make these adjustments and decisions as long as they aren’t compelled by certain ideas of what is good or bad. It's also believed that the parents who are making these judgments aren't doing so because of preconceptions or biases.
Since genetic engineering is such a new form of reproductive technology, the safety of its procedures is still currently being assessed and researched, as the long-term effects of designer babies is underway. However, people may think that this type of reproductive technology is unethical in terms of individual liberty. Questions regarding the child’s autonomy arise, such as should parents have the authority to modify their children's genetic makeup or to choose for specific traits when the children themselves are incapable of giving consent? It may be possible that the parents of a child may consider attributes like athletic aptitude, yet the child grows up to dislike sports. This may negatively affect the relationship between the parent and the child.
Creating these designer babies also raises concerns about equality and how it connects to social inequity. Choosing an offspring's genetic composition has the potential to create a "genetic overclass," resulting in unfair advantages for people who can't afford or aren't exposed to this technology. It may potentially lead to societal homogenization, which would eliminate variety and specific characteristics, leaving only "perfect" individuals with "perfect" features. Those with minor disabilities or deficiencies may be at a disadvantage as a result of this. If parents are given the freedom to choose what they want for their future child, why is it bad to choose what their offspring will look like if the progeny is not in any risk or harm? It may be admitted that a parent's idea of perfection is subjective in some ways, but they insist on the right to seek it. Subjectivity in the choice to indulge desires regarding the features of an individual's child isn't so problematic as long as such preferences don't harm or impair the child.
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