Choosy parents can now choose a lot more than peanut butter
-Julie Ryan Evans
Every parent dreams of a perfect child, but just how far would you go to get one?
You actually won’t have to go very far at all soon, as branches of the New York and Los Angeles branches of the LA Fertility Institute say they will offer children Build-a-Bear-style within the next six months.
So if designer jeans aren’t enough to satisfy your yearning for atheistic perfection, you can move on to designer GENES. Blonde hair? Check. Blue eyes? Check. Just make your list, check it twice, and viola … your perfect child will be born nine months later.
The mad scientist doctor who heads up the clinics, Dr. Jeff Steinberg, has been offering gender selection services for quite some time now. He says that while doing that work his team discovered how to offer more choices to parents including eye color, hair color and even skin color.
And now, the debate is on … is it ethical? Is it moral? Should laws be enacted to prevent it?
Steinberg says such genetic technologies are “the wave of the future.” And in response to the Pope’s disdain for them he said, “It’s already happening and it’s not going to go away. It’s going to expand. So if they’ve got major problems with it, they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences because there’s nothing that’s going to stop it.”
Of course, naysayers abound. Prof. Alexander Capron, bioethicist and professor of law and medicine at the University of Southern California, told the New York Daily News: “The notion of unconditional love and support – which is assumed to be what parents owe their children – is totally undermined here.”You’re saying I want to order up just what I want and that’s what I’ll love.”
“We’re crossing the line into eugenics, the theory of trying to give people enhanced characteristics – genetic engineering to make sort of the superman or superwoman,” said Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, director of ethics at New York Medical College and St. Vincent’s Hospital, in the same article.
The tailored-tot technology isn’t perfected yet, but Steinberg says it’s getting there.
“I would predict that by next year, we will have determined sex with 100 percent certainty on a baby, and we will have determined eye color with about an 80 percent accuracy rate,” Steinberg told CBS.
Personally, I find it all just plain Stepford-like scary and fraught with countless questions … and few answers.
Can you imagine the arguments such choices could cause among couples and families … and what if it doesn’t work? Will you always be disappointed when you look at your child’s brown hair? Will “the mistake” stand out glaringly in family photos? Will you get a refund? Who will be able to afford the technology in the first place?
And where will it all stop? At this point there’s not talk of being able to select temperament and behavior, so no matter how adorable your child looks, he could still be a raging brat.
But according to a February survey in the Wall Street Journal, there is a demand to dictate many a trait. They survey found that “about 10% of respondents said they would want genetic testing for athletic ability, while another 10% voted for improved height. Nearly 13% backed the approach to select for superior intelligence.”
The debate for regulation around reproduction is further fueled by Octo-mom Nadya Suleman who has critics crying for legal limits on how many embryos should be allowed to be transferred at a time.
California State Senator Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod has introduced legislation to regulate fertility clinics in California.
“It is alarming that the State of California has no one watching out for patients,” McLeod said.
Alarming, absolutely. But cut and dry enough to regulate? Not so clear. Do we really want the government to enter our wombs?
There are so many questions, gray areas, fine lines and other ambiguous analogies when it comes to fertility, and as technology continues to advance there will only be more. Meanwhile, little lives await their fates …