"Confessions of a 'Genetic Outlaw'"


BusinessWeek has a great and moving piece discussing the implications the implications of increasingly refined and effective means of screening embryos. The article is penned by "one of the dwindling number of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and choose not to terminate our pregnancies."

I would not want scientists to stop delving into the mysteries and wonders of the human genome. I am glad that I knew my son had Down syndrome before he was born. If one of these scientists found a "cure" for my son's Down syndrome, I almost certainly would give it to him. But I will admit that I would pause beforehand. I would think hard about this real-life conversation between a teenager with Down syndrome and her mother. The daughter asked her mother whether she would still have Down syndrome when the two were together in heaven someday. The mother, taken by surprise, responded that she thought probably not. To which her daughter responded, "But how will you know who I am, then?" And I would also think hard about whether the world would really be a better place without my son's soft, gentle, deep, almond-shaped eyes.

Whole thing here. It's easy to say that, at some point, it will be possible to cure many diseases in utero, but it's also true that what counts as "normal" and "abnormal" will change over time, so parents will always have choices to make, even or especially in an age of "designer children." In any case, it was striking to read an article that is not archly ideological but rich in human experience.

Hat tip: John Derbyshire over at The Corner.

Reason's forum on human enhancement touched on many related issues. That's online here.