Would you like to select your child’s gender?
The colour of her hair?
Whether she is dark-skinned or fair?
Whether she is tall or short?
It may soon be possible for couples to do so. A report in The Wall Street Journal explains this-
A Los Angeles clinic says it will soon help couples select both gender and physical traits in a baby when they undergo a form of fertility treatment. The clinic, Fertility Institutes, says it has received “half a dozen” requests for the service, which is based on a procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis has been in use for years in order to avoid potentially life-threatening diseases in children. Progress in the the science behind PGD has been rapid and is now at a stage where made-to-order babies could be potentially possible.
“It’s technically feasible and it can be done,” says Mark Hughes, a pioneer of the PGD process and director of Genesis Genetics Institute, a large fertility laboratory in Detroit. However, he adds that “no legitimate lab would get into it and, if they did, they’d be ostracized.”
But Fertility Institutes disagrees. “This is cosmetic medicine,” says Jeff Steinberg, director of the clinic that is advertising gender and physical trait selection on its Web site. “Others are frightened by the criticism but we have no problems with it.”
Instead of avoiding some conditions, the technique also may have been used to select an embryo likely to have the same disease or disability, such as deafness, that affects the parents. The Johns Hopkins survey found that 3% of PGD clinics had provided this service, sometimes described as “negative enhancement”.
The rationale behind “choosing a disability” is that the disabled parents and similarly disabled child will adjust better to each other!
The implications of creating such “designer babies” are mind-boggling.
Should parents have the right to create the type of child they think they want?
In case of a dispute, should the final decision be the mother’s or the father’s?
Would thieves or dacoits choose traits for their children which would help them in their respective ‘trades’?
What if the child later goes to court against her parents because she does not like the traits they have chosen for her?
Isn’t creating a “designer child” nothing but playing God?