Designer Babies: Future Reality or Breaking the Laws of Nature?

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Designer Babies: Future Reality or Breaking the Laws of Nature?

Science has made a considerable breakthrough during the last decades. Today people can plant crops that give more harvest, breed animals that have not existed before or species with some extraordinary physical characteristics (various modifications) such as the broilers, for instance. Since genetics has evolved considerably, people learned to not only see but also change the genes of a living being in order to enhance its characteristics. Moreover, at this point of human progress, the scientists managed to create the exact copy of the organism – a clone. With the devastating speed, the progress moves on, creating many new possibilities. Being able to change the genes, the scientists can eliminate numerous genetic disorders. The representatives of some fertility and healthcare institutions claim that, for the same manner, they can learn to change physical characteristics of human babies, such as color of eyes, hair, complexion, or height. Therefore, in the nearest future, they will be able to offer еру possibility of modifying such characteristics that are not laid by the natural evolution. Consequently, parents will get children looking like and even thinking the way they want since the intellectual abilities can be programmed, as well. At this point, the question arises, “Can such designer babies be called humans?” and “Is it ethical to interfere so much to the process envisaged by nature?” Even though, there are many proponents of the creation of designer babies, the majority of people reject even the possibility since it is an unethical, unnatural, sinful, and artificial attitude to the human nature.

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The very concept of creating designer babies raises the debates around the issue of natural and deliberate selection. For many centuries prior to the modern age, only the children that were strong enough to live in this world could survive. That is the essence of the natural selection. For sure, designer babies are the result of deliberate selection as they may have the characteristics defined by the adults (“A Big Step toward ‘Designer Babies’”). Many may argue that, because of pollution and changes in the way people live, giving birth to a healthy child without supporting measures is almost impossible. Therefore, since such interference is generally accepted, it is difficult to explain why the society rejects the possibility of improving children with certain physical characteristics that will make their lives better. There is no single answer to this question as the counterarguments to the suggestion are convincing. First, helping children survive is not a radical intervention. It is a matter of evolution to help those that can survive. Second, creating children by means of genetic modification contradicts the truth of eternal nature as the designer babies do not look the way they should naturally look like, but the way their parents want (“A Big Step toward ‘Designer Babies’”). Third, the sheer concept of changing the human nature cardinally cannot be accepted from the perspective of the Christian doctrine, as it is not the selection made by God, but by the humans. Fourth, there is nothing bad in saving children from the genetic disorders, but changing their appearance, intellectual abilities, and behavior is equal to depriving them of their natural identity. Fifth, the artificially created children will be resistant to almost all known diseases, so they will not die for the natural reasons. Since all designer babies would survive because of their physical characteristics predetermined by adults, there will be no natural selection at all. Choosing the way a child looks like is a deliberate selection.

The issue of designer babies raises many ethical concerns. Having eliminated the genetic disorders by the modifications of the genes, the society will be unable to stop (Thadani). At all times, there have been people ready to do anything in order to stand out of the crowd and have something that the rest does not have. The designer baby will be just a subject to manipulation. Despite the fact that these children will be endowed with the physical fitness and perfect health, they can be very similar to each other: long-legged blond girls with blue eyes or handsome, tall, punched, brown-eyed brunette boys, like Ken and Barbie. Consequently, parents will not value their designer babies, as these children will be more a commodity, which everyone might have, than a sacred gift (“A Big Step toward ‘Designer Babies’”). All these aspects provide the idea with the right to life. The ethical concerns are as follows. The creation of designer babies will be definitely a costly venture as even the DNA analysis is not cheap. Since only the wealthy people will be able to afford the artificially created children while those who earn less will only dream about it, the difference between the wealthy and poor will be huge. Thadani asserts that, due to the fact that the scientists will modify the genes in order to create designer babies, the genetic diversity of the humankind will be reduced extensively. Therefore, humans will be more susceptible to some diseases, for example, the disorders that do not depend on the genes or the infections that modify on their own all the time, becoming resistant to the medications. In addition, no one knows what result the attempts to create a designer baby will cause; therefore, if gene modifications have some side effects or the changes in DNA are made with even a minor mistake, the result of these experiments – the children – will be the first to suffer (Thadani). According to Thadani, such individuals will not be able to choose a profession as a change in one gene will require the change in another one for the balance. Consequently, both alterations will program the child to perform some tasks without the ability to try him/herself in a different profession. Therefore, it will be highly unethical to try to create designer babies as this experiment will broaden the social disparity in people with different income, put children at risk of being programmed for performing limited tasks only, and make people more susceptible to some diseases.

The creation of designer babies should be regarded an extremely risky venture. All people are unique; therefore, their preferences differ a lot. If a parent, for instance, likes to modify his or her body with different implants, piercing, or tattoos, he or she may want a child look the same way but for the natural reasons, without any physical interventions after birth. If it happens, one will be likely to meet a monster or zombie. The thing is that the child is likely to suffer because of such decisions. There was a case when a deaf lesbian couple decided to have a baby that would not differ from them, would be deaf, as well. Women did not succeed in seeking for a deaf donor in the sperm banks and asked their friend who had a long history of deaf people in his family to donate the sperm. The child was born nearly deaf, but the mothers named the lack of the baby’s ability to hear a blessing, not a disability (“A Big Step toward ‘Designer Babies’ – and Big Questions”). The reality is that the couple deliberately deprived the child of the ability of enjoying life with all senses. Other parents might have such intentions, as well (“The Need to Regulate ‘Designer Babies’”). If one applies this example to the concept of designer babies, it is possible to imagine what people might wish to see in their children. Moreover, people might want to create a baby with a certain physical characteristics in order to cure the older sibling without that characteristic or if it is failing (“The Need to Regulate ‘Designer Babies’”). If humans start thinking in this way and using the development in genetics for such purposes, the humanity will not be humanity at all. Therefore, the creation of designer babies cannot be approved.

The creation of designer children is inappropriate from the religious perspectives, as well as from ethical or social viewpoints. Many religions value the sacred creation of God – a person – and consider that interference with the destiny of a human being is unacceptable. Even a more strict approach is applied to modifying the physical abilities of the body. In some religions, blood transfusion is not allowed, as well. Moreover, the others forbid any interference at all, including abortions, piercing, and tattoo, among many others. A person should look like the way he was created by God. For this reason, many people state that modifying genes and, consequently, changing characteristics of a child is playing God and is completely unacceptable (“A Big Step toward ‘Designer Babies’”; Cho). Therefore, from a religious point of view, designer babies should not be created.

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Despite the fact that most arguments contradict the idea of creating designer babies, one can find some aspects that prove the idea to be justified. First, since gene modification is justified if used for preventing some genetic disorder in the child, it can be applied to make children stronger and able to do something that they could not have done without gene modification (Cho). Second, humankind can benefit from the children with superpowers, as they will have a developed intellect, good physical characteristics, and enhanced abilities. Since gene modification allows creating a certain future program, children can be programmed to live in peace or preserve the planet. Even though many may argue that creating designer babies is playing God (Cho), the reality is that the possible gene modification, if successful of course, can be beneficial for the humanity.

The creation of designer babies is a controversial issue since it has both positive and negative aspects. Despite the fact that gene modification will allow parents to choose physical and intellectual characteristics of a child, saving him/her from the genetic disorders, low IQ, or physical unattractiveness, many people do not approve this idea because of many reasons. Therefore, they consider it unethical in relation to the children and society. Moreover, creating designer babies is a risky experiment as it can fail and result in the negative outcomes. Most religions do not approve interference into the person’s appearance; therefore, they consider genetic endowing children with some qualities a sin. In addition, the opponents of designer babies state that this process contradicts the natural selection, substituting it with a deliberate one.