What are the pros and cons of designer babies? A designer baby is not one that is born with a Gucci bag and a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. No, a designer baby is a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected for the express purpose of ensuring certain characteristics or genes are present.
Designer babies are engineered for several reasons. In some cases the embryo is selected to ensure it is free from genetic or hereditary disorders. In others, an embryo is selected to provide life-saving stem cells or an organ for a seriously sick sibling. However, although screening embryos in advance can save lives, many believe that pre-selection of designer babies is only the first step on a slippery slope and before long we will be choosing embryos based purely on cosmetic traits. So what are the pros and cons of designer babies and is it wrong to play God in the game of life?
What are the pros of designer babies?
- Genetic screening of embryos can help to prevent the unwelcome occurrence of serious and life threatening genetic and hereditary disorders. Some families carry the genes for terrible diseases such as Huntington’s disease, and without the benefit of genetic screening and selection of designer babies, they would be cursed with future generations doomed to die young.
- Designer babies can also be pre-selected to provide stem cells to prolong the life of existing siblings who are sick or dying from a serious illness or hereditary disease.
What are the cons of designer babies?
- The process by which embryos can be screened for genetic defects and diseases can also be used for cosmetic reasons and there are some fertility experts who are more than willing to give prospective parents the opportunity to pre-select gender, hair colour, intelligence, athletic ability, and any number of other traits.
- Children born specifically to help older siblings could justifiably feel a sense of injustice about the nature of their conception and birth.
- The issue of cosmetic designer babies is a highly controversial one. In some cultures, boy babies are prized far above girl babies, and there is a real danger that the gender balance would become dangerously skewed and gender discrimination would become a worldwide issue if parents were given the right to pre-select boy embryos over girl embryos.
- Designer babies circumvent natural biodiversity, which again is a very dangerous thing. As such, many critics believe that the act of creating designer babies is effectively science playing “God”.
- Pre-selecting certain desirable physical traits is uncomfortably close to the ideals of Hitler and his desire to create a superior Ayran Race of blond, blue-eyed, tall people.
- Allowing parents to select certain physical traits in their unborn children will inevitably create an unfair balance in society, as only the rich will be able to afford to pay for genetic engineering whilst the poor would be at an unfair disadvantage.
- Genetic manipulation is an extremely complex science. Mistakes made could easily lead to catastrophic genetic mutations.