Eugenics: Designer Babies

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Eugenics: Designer Babies
Okpurukre Isoken
(Medical Ethics)
Professor Ballantyne
August 5th, 2009

Eugenics: Designer Babies

Eugenics, in its broadest sense, is defined as "the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or of a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits”. The term captures a smorgasbord of vivacious imagery etched into the annals of human history - of ghostly memories about human atrocities anxiously waiting to fade away at the twilight moments of a modern age – of overcrowded prison camps, in which the depths of travail and indolent sighs of countless defenseless victims, of bodies ravaged by scars and which have become too weak to be revitalised in any shape or manner. Or of lives consigned to “medical investigative exploration for the amelioration of human condition” by what at first sight appears to be insignificant signatures of a clerk. Such lives were considered only sacrifices contrived by altruist motives of a beneficent governing authority. Questions if they could have been raised at all in retrospect could only be considered at someones discretionary time, and place of course. Trying to pick through the rubbles of the world’s past mishaps and distilling their lessons for application to

today’s issues is like wading and battling oneself through an ever- confusing maze mired with potholes, trenches

and cul-de-sacs. Tolstoy, in his masterpiece War and Peace admonished his readers that everything in history has

the mirage of appearing to have been predestined, once history has occured. I believe that as potential medical

experts honest and critical intellectual inquiry is only the beginning and the least of what we can do to prevent

what future generations will ruefully deem as inevitable consequences of our “brilliant concoctions”.

According to Congressman Greenwood’s opening statements at the hearing of the COMMITTEE ON

ENERGY AND COMMERCE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS March 28, 2001

convened by medical researchers, bioethicists and members of congress, “ For most of its 80 years, the brave New

World could be seen as a disturbing work of science fiction. That is no longer the case. The possible cloning of

human beings is now relegated to the world—not relegated to the world of fiction. The question we must now ask is

this: what should we do with this science?”

Amidst the backdrop of hefty political and legal debates over bioethics that took place in the ‘90s and early

21st century as a result of Ian Wilmot’s sheep cloning experiements, laws had been enacted that helped to curb the

development of reproductive technologies. It became crystal clear that the countdown timer has now been set for

the inevitable -the cloning of Homo sapiens. No one knows what would happen after that. Notwithstanding,

numerous independently funded private labs across the United States and around the

world wasted little time to find legal loopholes to evade the scrutiny of authorities and jumped into the hunt for the

holy grail.

For instance, On December 5, 1997, Chicagoan physicist and fertility expert Richard Seed announced that

he planned to clone a human being before any federal laws could be enacted to ban the process. Seed’s plans

were to apply the same technique used to clone Dolly. Seed's announcement went against President Clinton's

1997 proposal for a voluntary private moratorium against human cloning.

Several arguments may be suggested to explain this fervor. There were those who argued that reproductive

freedom includes human cloning, perhaps as a means to address the problem of male infertility. Others advocated

cloning as a means to replicate a deceased loved one. For yet others, human cloning is justified because it may...
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