Designer babies are babies, whose genetic makeup has been artificially screened and chosen by scientists, via genetic engineering. This concept has raised numerous ethical issues. Let's have a look at the pros and cons of designer babies. Did You Know?
The term 'designer baby' was actually coined by journalists and not scientists. The term 'designer baby' made its entry into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2004, where it is defined as "a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering, combined with in vitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics.” What is a Designer Baby?
Advances in genetics have given birth to this concept of 'designer baby', wherein, parents and doctors are able to genetically screen embryos for any genetic disorders. In vitro fertilization (IVF) technique involves the fertilization of the egg by the sperm in test tubes, outside the mother's body. This allows doctors to screen the embryos. Genetic screening has made it possible to eliminate genes associated with several genetic defects and terminal illnesses.
A revolutionary technique called 'preimplantation process', when used in conjunction with tissue typing, is used to screen embryos for any genetic disease and only the disease-free embryos are implanted into the mother's womb. However, the technique is not limited to screening for genetic and hereditary disorders, but is also used for cosmetic reasons.
Dr. Jeff Steinberg, Director of the Los Angeles Fertility Institute, who played a major role in the world's first test tube baby in 1978, states that by using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), parents can choose the gender, eye, skin, and hair color of the baby. Various other physical traits such as intelligence, beauty, height, stopping a propensity towards obesity, freedom from mental illnesses, athletic ability, etc. can be also determined. He went on to say that this service is available solely to couples seeking IVF.
Designer babies have been debated for over a decade. While some people believe designer babies can revolutionize life beyond our imagination, others believe such a revolutionizing technique can cause harm to mankind in the future. Let's have a look at the pros and cons of designer babies.
Pros of Designer Babies
Adam Nash was the world's first known designer baby, born by the revolutionary 'preimplantation process' in the year 2000. Scientists genetically selected his embryo, so that he would possess the right cells to save his dying sister's life. His sister suffered from Fanconi's anemia (blood disorder), and mostly the chances of Adam getting that disorder was also very high. Out of a total of 30 embryos, an embryo free from Fanconi's anemia was chosen. When Adam was born, the blood cells from his umbilical cord, were transplanted into his sister's body, which saved her life. In no way was Adam subjected to any kind of medical procedures to save his sister's life, thus, Adam was in no way affected.
Same was the case with Charlie Whitaker, who suffered from Diamond-Blackfan Anemia. His parents wanted to have a designer baby to save Charlie's life. Since they were denied the right in UK, they went to US, to have their baby. In 2003, Charlie's baby brother was born and the stem cells from his umbilical cord would be used to treat Charlie.
((However, many pro-life groups are against the concept of savior children. Let's have a look at what the parents of savior children have to say in their defense. Pro-life Group's Argument
-The savior child is wanted to save the other sibling, and may feel unloved for being exploited.
-Jason and Lesley Gregory decide to have a designer baby, to save the life of their daughter Harriet, who is born with a rare brain condition. However, the birth of baby Michael to save Harriet, was criticized by may pro-life...