Moral Panic

The Moral Case for Designer Babies

Should parents be allowed to know if their fetus will get Alzheimer's?

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Should prospective parents seek information about gene variants that increase the risk their children will develop diseases as adults? Should physicians provide that information?

Some bioethicists believe that such pre-birth testing is wrong, arguing that the information could stigmatize kids or lead parents to terminate pregnancies of genetically at-risk fetuses. Children, they contend, have a right to an "open future" unburdened by the knowledge of their genetic predispositions for adult onset illnesses.

Consider the situation of Amanda and Bradley Kalinsky, as reported on the front page of The New York Times in February. Amanda Kalinsky tested positive for the gene that produces Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker (GSS) disease, a form of early onset dementia. Several family members, including her father, had already succumbed to the sickness. When she found out that she was a carrier, she initially vowed never to have children.

But then Amanda and her husband learned that they could use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of their embryos to avoid passing the GSS gene to their kids. Fertility clinic specialists induced her to produce several eggs that were removed and then fertilized with her husband's sperm. The resulting embryos were tested for the gene, and only those that did not have it were implanted in her womb.

The happy result is that the Kalinskys are the parents of three children-3-year-old twins, Ava and Cole, and 9-month-old Tatum-who have been spared the prospect of suffering the disease that is likely to kill their mother. The cost for the first round of in vitro and testing was about $20,000, which the Kalinskys paid out of pocket. "I would travel that road a million times over if I had to," Amanda told the Times, "because in the end I was given the privilege of being their mother."

In the Times article, the Yeshiva University bioethicist David Wasserman argued that discarding the GSS-gene embryos is akin to concluding that people like Amanda Kalinsky should have never been born. But decisions about who should be born ought not to be placed in the hands of ethicists or physicians; they should be left up to the people whose lives and values are actually on the line.

For Kalinsky, the prospect of passing on her GSS gene was frightening enough that she initially ruled out reproducing. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis enabled her and her husband to have children that they wouldn't have otherwise. In either scenario, the child with the GSS gene was not going to be born; this way, there are three new humans on the planet.

The Kalinskys were focusing on a single gene. But now a new, much more comprehensive whole-genome screening test is enabling physicians to identify disease risks that parents might not have any reason to suspect, such as genes increasing the possibility of breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease. The new test sequences a fetus's genome based on DNA it sheds into its mother's bloodstream. So researchers can now reveal genetic predispositions ranging from trivial characteristics like eye color and propensity to baldness to the risk of cancer.

Is it ethical for physicians to sequence a fetus's genome and then tell parents what the genetic screening test uncovers? Yes, argues Ignatia B. Van den Veyver of Baylor College in the January 2014 issue of Prenatal Diagnosis. Among other arguments, Van den Veyver wonders "whether we infringe autonomy by shielding information that may allow parents and young adults to make decisions about their future that take into consideration all aspects of their current or future health," adding: "It is not well established that not providing this predictive information is the only direction to preserve the right to an open future."

Indeed not. Apparently, what some bioethicists mean by "open future" is one in which both parents and children are kept ignorant of the ways their complement of genes may expose them to medical risks.

Prenatal whole-genome sequencing will also provide parents with information about their prospective child's genetic susceptibility to illnesses like lung cancer, arteriosclerosis, and diabetes. Armed with such genomic knowledge, mothers and fathers could make sure that they don't smoke around their kid and later explain why it's a really bad idea for him or her to take up a tobacco habit. Warned in advance about their child's heightened risk of diabetes, parents could devise a diet and exercise regimen aimed at preventing its onset.

The American Medical Association (AMA) got it right when it offered ethical guidance to its members on prenatal genetic screening way back in 1994. "If prenatal diagnosis is performed, the principle of patient autonomy requires that all medically relevant information generated from fetal tests be passed along to the parent or parents," the AMA declared. "While the physician should generally discourage requests for information about benign genetic traits, the physician may not ethically refuse to pass along any requested information in his or her possession. The final decision as to what information is deemed appropriate for disclosure can only fall to the parents, informed by the facts and recommendations presented to them by their physician."

More recently, in the January 16 New England Journal of Medicine, Ilana Yurkiewicz of Harvard Medical School, Lisa Soleymani Lehmann of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Bruce Korf of the University of Alabama at Birmingham argue that it is ethical to provide parents with prenatal whole-genome sequencing information, because it is "a basic right of reproductive choice and parental autonomy; people may choose when, with whom, and how to reproduce, and they have the right to data that may inform these decisions." The trio also notes that women in the United States do not have to provide a reason for obtaining an abortion, so it is "difficult to justify restricting abortion in the case of a well-defined reason, such as genetic disease."

The researchers reject the notion that genetic ignorance is somehow liberating. "Instead of limiting a child's potential future, knowledge of genetic risks can offer a greater opportunity to inform possibilities for a good life," they point out.

And that's the essential point. Whatever some bioethicists might believe, autonomy is never enhanced by ignorance.

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241 responses to “The Moral Case for Designer Babies

  1. “I would travel that road a million times over if I had to,” Amanda told the Times, “because in the end I was given the privilege of being their mother.”

    The very face of evil!

  2. In the Times article, the Yeshiva University bioethicist David Wasserman argued that discarding the GSS-gene embryos is akin to concluding that people like Amanda Kalinsky should have never been born.

    Is Herr Wasserman suggesting that the children the Kalinskys actually authored by virtue of genetic selection shouldn’t have been born, then? If their only option was genetic roulette and they chose to forego procreating altogether, that seems to be the case.

    1. No. He doesn’t seem supportive of their initial reasons for not reproducing either.

      It is interesting that you give him the title “Herr” for opposing eugenics.

      1. I question how a parent choosing to stop her child from developing early dementia is the same as eugenics. Eugenics is the belief that we should stop people with certain diseases, racial characteristics, low IQs, etc. from producing in order to improve the collective population.

        If an individual does it to stop her children from suffering dementia, that is not the same thing as eugenics since it is not an attempt to control the genetic diversity of a collective group.

        Eugenics is about controlling the genetics of a population, not about saving an individual from a debilitating disease.

        Which you’d know if you weren’t an idiotic concern troll.

        1. First off, no one was saved from a debilitating disease. One* of the embryos that was not likely to develop it was allowed to live, while the others were destroyed.

          And yes, eugenics is usually directed toward the population in general, but its impact is always in individual cases such as this one. Regardless it’s extremely unfair to insinuate that Wasserman is a Nazi for his position here.

          * possibly two if the twins were fraternal rather than identical, doesn’t matter to the point

          1. So, among other things, Tulpa doesn’t understand how twins work…

            1. Not sure what you mean here. Are you saying more than two embryos, or maybe zero embryos produce twins? Cuz I covered 1 and 2.

              1. The correct answer is 3. Unless Cole is a girl. Then maybe two, although it is highly unlikely. One doesn’t even begin to cover it – hence the insult about understanding twins.

          2. The happy result is that the Kalinskys are the parents of three children-3-year-old twins, Ava and Cole, and 9-month-old Tatum

            So two or three embryos, not 1-2.

            The only difference between this and a couple who can’t conceive and go through the same procedure is the genetic testing, as opposed to a more general check of the embryo’s health. Do you also oppose all IVF?

        2. Eugenics is the belief that we should stop people with certain diseases, racial characteristics, low IQs, etc. from producing in order to improve the collective population.

          This is bullshit. Eugenics means “good genes.” From Francis Galton’s wiki:

          “Galton invented the term eugenics in 1883 and set down many of his observations and conclusions in a book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.[22] He believed that a scheme of ‘marks’ for family merit should be defined, and early marriage between families of high rank be encouraged by provision of monetary incentives. He pointed out some of the tendencies in British society, such as the late marriages of eminent people, and the paucity of their children, which he thought were dysgenic. He advocated encouraging eugenic marriages by supplying able couples with incentives to have children. On October 29, 1901, Galton chose to address eugenic issues when he delivered the second Huxley lecture at the Royal Anthropological Institute[18]”

    2. I think it’s important to be very, very careful with analogies. More often than not they oversimplify situations for the sake of neatness and lead to errors in logic.

      Wasserman is falling afoul of this, in my opinion. The obvious corollary to his proposition is that retaining the GSS-gene embryos would have arisen from a desire to see one’s children suffer. It doesn’t take a lot of consideration to see why that’s problematic reasoning.

  3. So her solution to early-onset dementia for her offspring was very, very early-onset death.

    Personally I’d rather have 50 years of life before the dementia set in than be killed before I was born, but that’s just me.

    1. Embryos. But I’m sure you read that and couldn’t possibly care less. Let the runts look forward to succumbing to the same disease in their fifties that took their mother in their twenties.

      There are three more children enjoying life than otherwise would have been. She’d have continued jettisoning viable eggs until she hit menopause and died shortly thereafter, and he’d have jerked into Kleenex for roughly the same period. But synthesizing the two somehow imbues those embryos with immutable rights, and therefore she should have foregone having any babies rather than seeing a few of those fertilized eggs discarded.

      Hav I got that right?

      1. I love my iPad. It insists “runts” should autocorrect to “rungs,” but overlooks “hav” altogether.

      2. There are three more children enjoying life than otherwise would have been.

        Because of Amanda’s choice not to reproduce. Not because of my position. She’s not a force of nature, she has moral responsibility of her own.

        But synthesizing the two somehow imbues those embryos with immutable rights

        As opposed to atmospheric exposure imbuing a being with immutable rights, as you presumably believe?

        1. No, actually. I think it’s a legitimate question that, somewhere between conception and delivery, rights inhere to the fetus. But unlike you I’m not erring on the side of the embryonic stage. If we’re going to make arbitrary delimitations, they come rather later than fertilization and subsequent implantation

          1. If we’re going to make arbitrary delimitations, they come rather later than fertilization and subsequent implantation

            That’s really just a further arbitrary delimitation. When “personhood” or “rights” are conferred is a moral question, not a scientific one. You will go round and round asserting the superiority of your respective positions infinitely, each of you with exactly equal validity.

            1. Well, except for the guy who says “18”. He’s obviously a twit.

    2. I agree with you entirely. Who are we to decide what quality of life is good enough for other people? People always say “Oh, I wouldn’t want to live with x,” but when they are struck with tragedy, they usually find the desire to live and their own personal drive is more than they expected.

    3. If the husband was not a carrier then they could have just tested the wife’s eggs. Would that have been acceptable?

      1. Well it certainly wouldn’t involve destroying already-conceived human organisms, so that’s a plus. Some people would still have moral objections for picking and choosing but I wouldn’t be one of them. Though I would caution that the process of genetic transmission is unpredictable and chaotic for a reason.

        1. After thinking about it for a while, in all likelihood they have to destroy the cell to determine specific DNA sequences. Maybe they could induce transcription and test mRNA or utilize some other process that does not destroy the cell.

          1. Cool idea. Get back to me when you work up that in-situ fluorescent-tagged anti-sense RNA fragment assay that can discriminate a single nucleotide substitution that works on a living egg cell without any adverse effects. Then we can talk about inducing transcription of a specific gene in an unfertilized egg without creating adverse effects.

    4. And you are entitled to that choice. So is she.

  4. It’s also interesting that libertarians slippery-slope the hell out of any smart gun tech or efficient surveillance of public spaces, and then turn around and cheer on technology to pick and choose genes in the next generation of humans.

    Right, no way government could ever abuse that.

    1. It’s also interesting that libertarians slippery-slope the hell out of any smart gun tech or efficient surveillance of public spaces, and then turn around and cheer on technology to pick and choose genes in the next generation of humans.

      Given that in this instance the technology is being used by individuals to prevent their own children from having debilitating diseases, there is absolutely no contradiction here.

      If the government were trying to genetically engineer people to be a certain way, I would be against it.

      Also, your comparison to smart guns is moronic. If someone wants to buy a smart gun, they obviously should be allowed to. I like the technology, and if you want to buy a firearm which contains the technology, good for you. No one here is against the existence of smart gun technology, we are against government mandates that would require all firearms to contain it.

      Which you’d know if you weren’t a dumbass concern troll.

    2. Didn’t you get caught, red handed, going out of you way to fuck with everyone here? Pretty much getting your jollies by being a lying scumbag?

      Pretty amazing that you would show your face here EVER again, having been PROVEN a disingenuous shitbag.

      LEAVE ROLLO.

      1. Careful. He’s going to report you to the authorities.

        1. For exposing him as a proven liar? Good luck with that.

        2. For a time yesterday you were being rational when we discussed this. Now you’re back to flinging poop with the babboons. Enjoy your company.

          1. The only company NOT enjoyed here is YOU!

            I’d rather argue with Tony. He’s just stupid. You are mendacious.

            1. I think Tony would resent having his mendacity overlooked. He works hard at it.

    3. “It’s also interesting that libertarians slippery-slope the hell out of any smart gun tech or efficient surveillance of public spaces, and then turn around and cheer on technology to pick and choose genes in the next generation of humans.”

      Ding! Ding! Ding!
      Today’s winner in False Equivalence has been decided!

    4. So you assume that any technological development must by definition rest solely within the hands of an authoritarian state, to the exclusion of private hands? Libertarians don’t make that assumption. Which is what we in the business call a “tell”.

      1. No, I assume that the State is going to quickly have its hands all over any technology that’s developed, privately or otherwise.

        1. You mean like the Internet? That began as a DARPA project. While various governments have their fingers in it, it’s far and away a private, state-free phenomenon in many ways today.

          1. In most of the world the net is controlled by governments, actually. And the net is far more decentralized and easy to conceal than reproduction is.

            1. “And the net is far more decentralized and easy to conceal than reproduction is.”

              You can NOT have actually thought this through before you typed it.

              1. Please report to the Office of the Reproduction Czar for cleansing. Your Birthright Certificate has been revoked.

  5. In the Times article, the Yeshiva University bioethicist David Wasserman argued that discarding the GSS-gene embryos is akin to concluding that people like Amanda Kalinsky should have never been born. But decisions about who should be born ought not to be placed in the hands of ethicists or physicians; they should be left up to the people whose lives and values are actually on the line.

    This is nonsense. There are drugs that keep mothers from passing HIV on to their children. By the argument of this bioethicist, we shouldn’t be allowed to do that since it’s akin to arguing that people with HIV should never have been born.

    Hell, by this logic making rape illegal is like saying that children who only exist because of rape should never have been born. Does the esteemed bioethicist really want to go down this road?

    He also fails to mention that saying we shouldn’t allow this genetic engineering is like saying that the child of Amanda’s who doesn’t have GSS should never have been born.

    1. There are drugs that keep mothers from passing HIV on to their children. By the argument of this bioethicist, we shouldn’t be allowed to do that since it’s akin to arguing that people with HIV should never have been born.

      Those drugs prevent an existing fetus from acquiring HIV, they don’t kill it in favor of a fetus that doesn’t have HIV. Big difference.

      Hell, by this logic making rape illegal is like saying that children who only exist because of rape should never have been born.

      Also not comparable. Children who happen to have been conceived by rape could have existed without rape happening (ie if the mother and father had had consensual sex).

      He also fails to mention that saying we shouldn’t allow this genetic engineering is like saying that the child of Amanda’s who doesn’t have GSS should never have been born.

      That doesn’t follow. The child who was born to Amanda could have been conceived naturally.

      1. Also not comparable. Children who happen to have been conceived by rape could have existed without rape happening (ie if the mother and father had had consensual sex).

        So your argument is that it’s not comparable because in a parallel universe a totally different set of circumstances could have occurred? Even if the mother and father theoretically had consensual sex at a different time, the genetics of the child conceived would be different, so the kid conceived through rape still wouldn’t exist. Hell, every time I’m not having sex with my girlfriend, there are children we’re not having. By the bioethicists logic, everyone who doesn’t pop out one kid after another is guilty of dooming entire legions of children to nonexistence.

        That doesn’t follow. The child who was born to Amanda could have been conceived naturally.

        You don’t know how fertilization works. If they’d had sex at a different time, there would have been a different mixture of the mother and father’s genetics. The odds of the same genetic makeup occurring would be virtually nonexistent because of the trillions of possibilities.

        It they’d done a natural conception, it is virtually guaranteed that this child would not exist in favor of a child with a different genetic makeup.

        1. I know how fertilization works thank you very much. Yes, probabilistically it’s unlikely that the conceptus produced by two different pairs of gametes would be the same, but that’s not what Wasserman is saying. Amanda said she didn’t want to have a child with the GSS gene which excludes billions of other possible humans, including Amanda.

          In the case of rape the genetic characteristics of possible offspring are likely the last thing on the mind of the victim when she refuses consent, so drawing a comparison is inappropriate and birthist.

          1. Why would a proven liar have any credibility on ANY topic?

            1. A rational argument doesn’t depend on the credibility of the arguer.

              1. Hydra Rollo Tulpa said

                “In the case of rape the genetic characteristics of possible offspring are likely the last thing on the mind of the victim when she refuses consent, so drawing a comparison is inappropriate and birthist.”

                “A rational argument doesn’t depend on the credibility of the arguer.”

                What is rational about assuming a rape victim is a she ?

                Is being a birthist the next big liberal no no ?

                1. As far as I know, every rape victim who got pregnant as a result has been a she. I’m ready to be proved wrong on that count if you have a counterexample.

                  1. And rape victims who IMPREGNATED SOMEONE you stupid inappropriately snarky fuck?

                    Yeah, on top of being a lying concern trolling sock puppet, you’re a fucking moron.

          2. In the case of rape the genetic characteristics of possible offspring are likely the last thing on the mind of the victim when she refuses consent, so drawing a comparison is inappropriate and birthist.

            Birthist? Are we now in the making up words section of the argument?

            Whether the characteristics of the offspring is on the mind of the victim is of no relevance. The bioethicist was arguing that stopping children from having GSS is akin to arguing that all of them should not exist. The exact same logic would apply to saying that children of rape shouldn’t exist since their mothers shouldn’t have been raped.

            Both those arguments are moronic. The choices of human beings result in some potential human beings being born and literally trillions of potential human beings not being born. Since choices will always result in some possible humans being born and some not being born, the argument that pre-birth genetic testing is like saying people with diseases ‘should never have been born’ is obviously flawed.

            1. The bioethicist was arguing that stopping children from having GSS is akin to arguing that all of them should not exist.

              No, he wasn’t. If there were a method for preventing a given child from having increased risk of early-onset dementia, I’m sure he would support that.

              That is NOT what is being done here. Perhaps it is you who doesn’t understand how fertilization works.

            2. Birthist? Are we now in the making up words section of the argument?

              Every word was made up when it first appeared. You immediately recognized what it was supposed to mean, so that looks like I did a good job selecting it. Pat on the back for me.

              1. Hydra Rollo Tulpa said:

                Pat on the back for me.

                Why don’t you create some more sockpuppets to pat your back for you ?

                Wouldn’t that add a little spice to the conversation ? Wasn’t that your argument for doing so in the first place?

                For the life of me I can’t see it possible for someone to be caught in such a bald faced embarrassment as being exposed as sockpuppeting someone to agree with his points in a debate to keep bothering to publish under the original name like nothing he did was wrong.

                (My apologies for the run on stream of though sentence. It boggles mt mind that he can continue here like nothing happened. )

                1. Rollo was not agreeing with Tulpa’s points in the thread in question.

                  1. You mean you weren’t agreeing with yourself.

                    And seriously? How fucking mentally ill are you?

      2. Also not comparable. Children who happen to have been conceived by rape could have existed without rape happening (ie if the mother and father had had consensual sex).

        Wha? By that line of reasoning, children that weren’t conceived by my wife and I will simply be conceived by someone else. Thus, a child aborted following rape will simply pop out of some other vajayjay, so aborting the fetus will ultimately have no effect on that particular person being born to someone, somewhere, at some time. Unless we’re saying that the genetic qualities of the child trump the “soul” in question, which we may as well since we left rationality behind several posts ago.

        1. By that line of reasoning, children that weren’t conceived by my wife and I will simply be conceived by someone else.

          Only if you and your wife both have identical twins.

          1. So then you’re more concerned with the genetics of the children in question rather than their identities as human beings. I don’t find that to be a compelling argument, frankly.

      3. Wondering what your parental experience is.

      4. Wondering what your parental experience is.

      5. Wondering what your parental experience is.

    2. Hell, by this logic making rape illegal is like saying that children who only exist because of rape should never have been born. Does the esteemed bioethicist really want to go down this road?

      Wasserman offers the gold standard of a bad argument by disregarding the rights of the parents and the mother in particular. The mother, as owner of her body, has the right to choose which embryo develops in her womb, full stop. Whether you buy the “rights in trust” argument or not, the GSS-gene embryos have no inherent right to occupy her womb without her permission, even if their lives are dependent on it.

  6. If you believe that a fetus isn’t a person/doesn’t have rights from conception, why wouldn’t it follow to only allow a genetically healthy fetus reach what you believe is the personhood threshold?

  7. Some bioethicists believe that such pre-birth testing is wrong, arguing that the information could stigmatize kids or lead parents to terminate pregnancies of genetically at-risk fetuses. Children, they contend, have a right to an “open future” unburdened by the knowledge of their genetic predispositions for adult onset illnesses.

    Can we please stop pretending that bioethics is anything more than the poorly expressed feelings of mediocre scientists?

    1. Talented biologists invent new ways to improve human life. Mediocre biologists make a career of handwringing over the implications.

  8. In either scenario, the child with the GSS gene was not going to be born; this way, there are three new humans on the planet.

    There’s no inherent value in the number of humans on the planet.

    1. No but revealed preference indicates that both parents prefer this outcome to the alternative, which is wonderful.

  9. Some bioethicists believe that such pre-birth testing is wrong, arguing that the information could stigmatize kids or lead parents to terminate pregnancies of genetically at-risk fetuses. Children, they contend, have a right to an “open future” unburdened by the knowledge of their genetic predispositions for adult onset illnesses.

    After an exhaustive Saturday-morning googling, I found this:

    The principle of the child’s right to an open future was first proposed by the legal philosopher Joel Feinberg and developed further by bioethicist Dena Davis. The principle holds that children possess a unique class of rights called rights in trust?rights that they cannot yet exercise, but which they will be able to exercise when they reach maturity. Parents should not, therefore, take actions that permanently foreclose on or pre-empt the future options of their children, but leave them the greatest possible scope for exercising personal life choices in adulthood. Davis particularly applies the principle to genetic counselling, arguing that parents should not take deliberate steps to create physically abnormal children, and to religion, arguing that while parents are entitled to bring their children up in accordance with their own values, they are not entitled to inflict physical or mental harm, neither by omission nor commission.

    1. “Rights”: things that the user of the word likes a lot.

      1. I kind of get what the author is saying, and I don’t think it’s necessarily un-libertarian or liberal. An infant is not yet a differentiated being (developmentally, they can’t tell a difference between themselves and their environment), so saying that they possess individual rights is a little like saying that a rock has rights. There’s no “self” there, as it takes time for the infant to develop and then recognize the self psychologically.

        On the other hand, when an infant is murdered, we in the west don’t treat it as the destruction of the parents’ property, but as a particularly evil case of murder. The idea of “rights in trust” is a way of protecting infants as sort of proto-individuals who are in the process of developing the natural rights of individuals.

        Problem is that some of the “protections” that bioethicists recognize are no doubt intrusions of the state into the lives of families like preventing circumcision or forcing them to learn state-approved dogma.

      2. The idea of “rights in trust” is a way of protecting infants

        There’s certainly utility to the idea. But I suspect the author thinks that inventing phrases constitutes an argument.

        1. Well, the “trust” aspect is key, I think. If someone enters a vegetative state without a living will, we generally allow some element of determination to a spouse, or parents, or adult children. We recognize the retention of the individual’s rights, but we also allow for the notion that concerned family can make potentially terminal decisions in the individual’s name that might otherwise abrogate those rights. Those rights are effectively held “in trust” by family/parents/etc. In a sense, then, destroying embryos that would develop into humans with a terminal illness is morally equivalent to pulling the plug on a comatose person.

    2. Outside of the parallels to the tired abortion debate, it’s unclear in the most elementary way how possessing an exhaustive understanding of a human being’s predilection for disease, disorder, and syndrome would limit rather than enhance that person’s “scope for exercising personal life choices in adulthood.”

      1. If a child isn’t born with a serious predilection to dementia, you have taken away his right to have dementia.

        1. It’s scary how well Irish understands the progressive perspective.

        2. What we’re seeing is that parents have expressed a preference for children that won’t have their quality of life in the shitter.

    3. Excellent!

  10. Do you see how the likes of me might see a conflict between the first and third sentences here:

    “But then Amanda and her husband learned that they could use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of their embryos to *avoid passing the GSS gene to their kids.* Fertility clinic specialists induced her to produce several eggs that were removed and then fertilized with her husband’s sperm. The resulting embryos were tested for the gene, and *only those that did not have it were implanted in her womb.*” [emphasis added]

    To someone like me, they *didn’t* “avoid passing the CSS gene to their kids.” The embryos with the gene simply weren’t “implanted in her womb.” This seems to suggest they were killed.

    If my crowd is right, then an embryo *is* a child, and so they apparently *did* pass the CSS gene to some of their children, they just had those children killed.

    1. If we start from the assumption that all embryos have rights, then yes, they were murdered.

      If we start from the assumption that no one has rights, then no, they weren’t murdered.

      If we start from the assumption that anything weighing less than 6 oz has rights, then yes, they were murdered.

      If we start from the assumption that anything edible has rights, then yes, they were murdered.

      If we start from the assumption that everything has rights during the month of September, then there’s a 1/12 chance they were murdered.

      You need to stop trying to convince people they were murdered and start trying to convince people they had rights.

      1. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that Bailey’s making possibly unwarranted assumptions.

        1. Unless you’re lying again.

          1. Oh look it’s Frank d’Adhominem.

            1. Oh look it’s Tulpa. The mendacious liar without an ounce of shame.

              Why would someone with absolutely NO credibility, continue to come here expecting to be treated with respect? You are a lying shitbag. And there is proof.

              1. Mendacious liar?

                From the department of redundancy department.

              2. I hardly expect to be treated with respect by people who don’t even respect themselves enough to avoid stepping in the muck of fallacy.

                1. Hydra|5.17.14 @ 1:20PM|#

                  I hardly expect to be treated with respect by people who don’t even respect themselves enough to avoid stepping in the muck of fallacy”

                  You shouldn’t expect to be treated with respect here by anyone.

      2. “You need to stop trying to convince people they were murdered and start trying to convince people they had rights.”

        At this stage of the discussion, I’m just arguing that people like myself aren’t going to be persuaded by RB’s formulation of the issue.

        As for the personhood and human rights of living human beings from the time of conception, I believe I have articulated my position: Categorizing a category of living human beings as outlaws who can be killed almost at will is utterly arbitrary and reflects some of the worse periods of human history.

        1. Categorizing a category of living human beings as outlaws who can be killed almost at will is utterly arbitrary

          Is this different?

          1. It is if you’re cool with eating animals.

            That, of course, implies something distinctive about humans.

          2. What I’m getting at is that singling out humans as the only living beings with rights seems arbitrary.

            1. I admit I have a potential bias here…as do a lot of “human rights” advocates.

              Right now, I admit I have trouble articulating the difference in *secular* terms, but I bet I could locate someone who does if I google it enough. I might do that later.

            2. I’m more interested in why YOU choose the fundamental assumption that you do (that all living humans have rights), not why anyone you might Google does. If it’s because you read it in an old book, fine. If it’s because you find it utilitarian, fine. If it’s because you’re still unsure about the foundations of your ethic, but needed to pick something, fine. I try not to judge anyone for their choice of ethic, just for their inconsistent application of it.

              But I suspect you’ll have problems with yours when DNA is played with like Legos and humanness becomes vague.

              1. As you suggest, the best *actual* defense I can think of for the uniqueness of humans is that I believe they have immortal souls and that there’s a divine plan for us.

                Human/animal chimeras will pose a bit of a problem; I suppose I’ll have to draw the line somewhere – some are more animal than human, and vice versa.

            3. I believe they have immortal souls and that there’s a divine plan for us.

              I suppose I’ll have to draw the line somewhere

              You will have to draw the line, or you will have to guess where divinity and the physics of soul immortality draw it? In any case, I got a more direct answer than I’d hoped for.

              1. Perhaps, but you are still left with the proposition that killing embryos is allowable only in the sense that humans do not have rights. In doing so, you are making abortion (as he defines it) a human rights issue.

                That’s ceding a lot of territory. But yes, we then need to make the case that humans are distinctly deserving of rights, which is pretty difficult to do without appealing to some sort of divinity, even a nebulous one.

              2. .

      3. He did not write they were murdered, he wrote that they were killed for having the gene, which is a factually incontrovertible statement.

        1. Actually, they were more probably “allowed to die” by not continuing their incubation and proceeding to implantation.

          Although they may have been killed by adding a disinfectant to the dish, I’d find that unlikely.

          So their fate was similar to 2/3 of all fertilized ova – failure to implant resulting in death.

    2. See, I can actually respect your argument since it’s not mendacious and illogical like Hydra’s.

      I still think you’re wrong. At a certain point abortion unquestionably becomes murder, but there needs to be a certain level of development before an embryo can be considered human.

      How developed were these embryos? I’d have to know that before I could agree or disagree with you.

      I also want to know why you think the instant of fertilization means the embryo is now a human life. At that point, it has literally none of the things that we normally consider ‘human.’

      Why start at fertilization? Why not claim all sperm is human life and therefore masturbation is little more than mass homicide?

        1. Would it surprise you to know that this is not a correct representation of Catholic teaching?

          Mostly, the birth-control doctrine involves the meaning of marriage and the marital act – I’m not defending it here, except to say this generally isn’t a discussion of when life begins.

          There is some overlap in the topics for those who believe that certain birth control methods are abortifacients (again, I’m just mentioning the debate, not trying to defend a position in that debate).

          1. One clarification from that link:

            “The “weeks” refer to embryonic development and differ from clinical weeks (shown in brackets, from last menstrual period, LMP or GA)”

            1. Oops, posted that in the wrong place.

          2. Would it surprise you to know that this is not a correct representation of Catholic teaching?

            No, Eddie, I’m just flipping you some shit. 😉 Albeit, well deserved shit.

      1. I’ve certainly heard that argument, but it’s the fusion of sperm and egg that creates a *new* entity – a living human being.

        A sperm is alive, but not a human being.

        This timeline from the University of New South Wales gives the beginning of human life as fertilization:

        http://embryology.med.unsw.edu…..evelopment

        1. One clarification from that link:

          “The “weeks” refer to embryonic development and differ from clinical weeks (shown in brackets, from last menstrual period, LMP or GA)”

        2. I don’t really see how this is any less arbitrary.

          1. Count the chromosomes.

          2. My point is that fertilization is the scientifically-accepted definition of when human life begins – and not all embryologists are prolife by any means.

            1. Why is when human life begins important? Is there a reason all life isn’t a person in your opinion?

              1. Could you clarify the question to make sure I get it?

                1. TBH, I’m just being a dick and not saying what I think, which might also be dickish.

                  I don’t think a human embryo is different than an animal embryo, with the obvious difference that one grows into a human and one grows into an animal. There’s nothing that separates animals from humans except maybe some peculiarities WRT our brains.

                  I assume you believe that there’s some spiritual reason a human is different from an animal and that difference is manifest at conception.

                  1. Put it that way, I suppose I do.

                  2. I don’t think a human embryo is different than an animal embryo, with the obvious difference that one grows into a human and one grows into an animal.

                    So you do think a human embryo is different than an animal embryo. And unless you think an embryo grows into a human rather than an animal out of sheer luck, that difference says a lot about a human embryo versus an animal embryo. DNA is not randomly assigned during an embryo’s development.

                  3. I don’t think a human embryo is different than an animal embryo, with the obvious difference that one grows into a human and one grows into an animal. There’s nothing that separates animals from humans except maybe some peculiarities WRT our brains.

                    I must say, I cannot understand why someone with such a viewpoint would much care about a discussion of inviolable human rights at all as such would seem to be inapplicable. If one believes this, then one must also believe that the moral treatment of humans should be very similar to what one considers the moral treatment of animals to be — unless in fact one does gives these human “peculiarities” (physical or spiritual) more weight than one is willing to admit in argument.

  11. I guess I’m not sure how testing embryos for genetic flaws that (may) lead to adverse life conditions necessarily leads to designing babies. To me, “Designing” sounds like cosmetic traits.

    1. Right, these parents weren’t destroying embryos because they wouldn’t grow to be 6’2″ or have brown hair. I think ‘designer’ is still a technically correct term, but the connotation is that the process is for aesthetic or racial purposes.

    2. The technology is useful for both purposes, and some people would rather see it used not at all than to see it used for what they consider trivial cosmetic reasons.

  12. I’m all for this stuff, if it isn’t used to encourage abortions or in vitro fertilization. I don’t want an “open future” if it just means a bunch of needless mistakes.

  13. What a decent chance for a real discussion…oh hey Tulpa. Never mind.

    1. He does contribute a unique flair to the board.

      Plus there’s the fun of trying to figure out which new handles are his, especially when he tries to affect a distinct voice when in dialogue with himself.

      1. Like the crazy homeless people in a city. Luckily, I can just ignore this crazy person.

      2. It’s much less fun when you figure out the secret: anyone who disagrees with the Reason version of libertarianism is a troll and/or sockpuppet.

        How many people disagree with libertarian positions on a major issue on this blog and are not insulted or accused of trolling? I can’t think of any.

        1. It’s much less fun when you figure out the secret: anyone who disagrees with the Reason version of libertarianism is a troll and/or sockpuppet.

          But you ARE a sockpuppet.

          It’s RIGHT HERE!

          1. I’ll give Tulpa this: he’s got a remarkably resilient ego and an utter lack of self-awareness, so presumably he’s able to live comfortably with himself.

            1. I disagree, but everyone always says I should get into politics.

              1. No snark, but it might be a good fit if you speak well.

              2. I disagree, but everyone always says I should get into politics.

                That’s not a compliment, dickweed.

              3. Hydra|5.17.14 @ 1:34PM|#

                I disagree, but everyone always says I should get into politics.”

                Everyone does not say that Rollo.

                But you do seem to have no sense of shame.

                So there’s that.

        2. The real secret, which you seem to be unable to understand, is that people hate you. Your ideas don’t matter, because you are an asshole.

          1. I know you have those feelings. I’m just appealing to any sense of logical rectitude that may yet exist in y’all. Or as the song says:

            Don’t think ’cause I understand, I care. Don’t think ’cause I’m talking, we’re friends.

            1. .

        3. Why does your handle reference a monster with many heads, if you’re trying to avoid looking like a sock-puppet?

    2. I actually agree. When I contribute to the discussion, the reactions of certain particular individuals who have no way to rationally argue against me are very disruptive.

      1. I’d be happy to have a rational discussion on the topic. Just not with you.

        1. In all fairness, those two are mutually exclusive.

  14. I don’t see what’s the big deal about eugenics being bad. If it’s all voluntary what’s the problem? Wouldn’t you rather live in a society where people were smarter, healthier, prettier, and less prone to crime?

    1. At the pragmatic macro level, the problem is that it would erode genetic diversity and be prone to government interference (don’t think G doesn’t have its own preferred characteristics for its citizens). I know you’re assuming it’s voluntary but it’s not likely to remain voluntary for long.

      In the moral dimension, the problem is that eugenics has historically involved killing or sterilizing people with disfavored genetic makeup, and in the case addressed in this article that’s still how it’s being practiced. That wouldn’t be a problem for therapeutic techniques that “fix” already existing people.

      1. It is pretty easy to imagine, for in vitro fertilization, the government making it illegal for someone to implant an embryo with full knowledge that the embryo possessed certain genes which were linked to deleterious outcomes in other carriers.

      2. …and be prone to government interference

        You could make the same argument–and I use the term loosely–about everything from fire to email to tap dancing. Again, you’re presuming that any technology must by definition reside first and foremost within the bounds of the state, to be distributed thence to private hands. This is rarely the case, if ever.

        And even if it were (which it isn’t) then the problem is the state itself, not the development of technology. You’re blaming the victim. You’re suing skirt manufacturers and saucy ladies because there are rapists.

        1. Again, you’re presuming that any technology must by definition reside first and foremost within the bounds of the state, to be distributed thence to private hands.

          Again, I’m not. I’m presuming that once a technology exists that can be used to serve (or hamper) state interests the state is going to be all over it.

          You mentioned the Internet above as a counterexample, but that’s a product of being in a relatively free country. If you were in the PRC or another authoritarian state (as most of the world’s population is) you’d realize that’s not a great example as many states DO have their fingers in the net.

          And of course the net is by its very decentralized nature difficult to shut down or control, and the tech to access it is dirt cheap and easy to conceal. Not so with this designer baby stuff or natural conception. It’s not hard to imagine the State demanding that every child born be selected for docility and other characteristics that produce a good citizenry from their POV.

          1. .

      3. At the pragmatic macro level, the problem is that it would erode genetic diversity and be prone to government interference (don’t think G doesn’t have its own preferred characteristics for its citizens).

        Yes, how will humanity exist without the genetic diversity brought about by early onset dementia, hemophilia, or Tay Sachs?

        1. Yes, how will humanity exist without the genetic diversity brought about by early onset dementia, hemophilia, or Tay Sachs?

          We don’t know what the future will hold. Possessing these genes might confer some advantage in a similar manner as sickle cell with respect to malaria. Isn’t this an argument for conservation of endangered species.

          1. Most of the arguments against eugenics (taking entire genomes out of circulation) break down when we’re talking about the near/mid-term future (where we can easily swap out individual genes).

            I understand some people’s distaste for the “shotgun” approach outlined here (make 6 kids, keep 3), but the tech to avoid doing that is almost already here, at which point we’ll literally be able to take out a single gene in a developing embryo.

            If it turns out to be useful, we can also put it back in in the next generation.

            1. Isn’t a lot of this similar to climate change in that there are an enormous amount of internal and external variables with direct and indirect interaction between all of them. The accuracy of the outcome of our models is only as good as our measurements of initial conditions and our modeled probabilistic future environments. There are just so many unknowns. So many combinatorial interactions.

              1. Yes, but many diseases have a known required genetic defect (That is, not everyone with the defect will get the disease, but everyone who gets the disease has the defect). Take it out and it stops happening.

                We’re actually pretty good at identifying those types of diseases nowadays.

                I’m not saying there won’t be fuckups along the way (one of the many reasons to keep governments away from mandating this stuff). But:

                1. There’s some ovious wins (like the one in this article) that can be achieved.
                2. Early adopters of these genetic tweaks are doing the rest of us a favour (by being voluntary guinea pigs).

                While there are risks for the individuals attempting this, I see only upside for humanity.

      4. People can’t produce enough embryos to select for more than one or two traits per couple. That isn’t going to meaningfully shift the gene pool. Especially when most of our babies are now born to teenagers on Medicaid.

    2. EQUALITY! in being unhealthy, ugly, and dumb.

    3. I agree. As long as it is individuals making decisions about their own gametes, I don’t see it as a problem. It’s really not so far removed from choosing a partner based on what you perceive to be his/her “good genes” (intelligence, height, body size, eye color, whatever). It only becomes a problem when people try to force their opinions of what are good or bad genes on other people, such as happened with forced sterilization.

      As for those who think it’s wrong to ever destroy an embryo, they shouldn’t care what the reason is, they should just be focusing on it’s bad to destroy embryos. Why is destroying an embryo because it carries a “bad” gene worse than destroying an embryo because you just happened to produce more than you needed (as happens sometimes when IVF is used to treat infertility). If you really care about embryos, far more are being destroyed in the latter situation than in the former (and unless the cost of PGD decreases drastically or it starts being covered by insurance, it’s unlikely to ever become widespread).

      1. Not sure what happened with that post, but what I was agreeing with was the idea that eugenics isn’t a big deal as long as it’s voluntary.

        1. So when do you willingly report to the gas chamber?

    4. Voluntary eugenics is probably not illibertarian, if that’s what you’re getting at. I believe that there are two compelling reasons to look askance on the practice:

      1) You are not making choices on your own behalf (i.e., genetic augmentation), instead your parents are making the choices for what, exactly, you will turn out to be and this is a very tricky subject. Generally speaking, there are two implicit views in society with regards to children: the kids are basically your property unless you’re a supreme fuck-up, or you are a custodian of your kids’ rights. Your train of logic wrt eugenics will differ greatly depending on which of these is your viewpoint.

      2) Implicit in eugenics is the idea that human beings are merely parts to a whole, to be programmed as is needed for the whole. People who appreciate the diversity of human experience would rather not have this diversity demolished for the sake of those who want human beings to better fit their designs.

    5. This post needs more GATTACA.

  15. More “libertarians” in the commentariat who want the government to intervene on things they find objectionable and who are libertarian on things they don ‘t want the government involved in. There has to be a term for this political philosophy and, if not, one should be made up for it.

    Hypocrisyism– government for and by sanctimonious twits who are full of shit.

    1. Do you find it unnerving to see a group of people not marching in complete lockstep? Don’t be alarmed. Just keep pounding away on those straw men and you’ll feel much better.

    2. More “libertarians” in the commentariat who want the government to intervene on things they find objectionable and who are libertarian on things they don ‘t want the government involved in.

      Really? Because the people I see arguing against this most strenuously are Eduard, who is a conservative Catholic with some libertarian leanings, and Hydra, who hates libertarians.

      All the actual libertarians in the comment section are in favor of the right to stop your children from having birth defects.

      1. Sure I do.

        You enjoy making shit up don’t you?

        1. .

      2. Irish, I think you’ve hurt your fellow cult member’s inner libertarian child. Does this mean its self-criticism time and a prolonged interpretation of Rothbardism followed by a little Randian self-flagellation?

        1. The irony of a socialist hectoring others on “self criticism time” is so dense that it is often mistaken for a neutron star by amateur astronomers.

      3. I don’t think drug abuse, prostitution, gay marriages or pornography are good things. I think they should all be legal.

        I don’t want government to intervene on behalf of the unborn because the act offends my religious sensibilities. I want the government to intervene because I believe the essential right to life and liberty trumps the personal autonomy of the person having an abortion.

        I further think that, if we take it as a given government should be required to protect life and liberty, to unilaterally declare one set of human beings not worthy of that protection is an enormous overreach.

        You can disagree with much of that, but I don’t think it exposes some sort of ideological hypocrisy on the part of Libertarians who are pro-life.

        1. What is the difference between liberty and personal autonomy? To unilaterally declare that one set of human beings (pregnant women) is not worthy of protection is an enormous overreach imho.

    3. More “libertarians” in the commentariat who want the government law to intervene on prohibit things they find objectionable consider to be rights violations and who are libertarian on things they don’t want the government involved in think violate rights.

      1. Right… And it’s up to benighted Libertarians for Life members to decide that for the rest of us. Go ahead… Tell me how you are different from, say, Joe Lieberman again. It’s pretty funny that you let a socialist of all people instruct you on personal liberties. You are a pretty weak sauce miniarchist. They have about a thousand commentators over at Breitbart.com that sound exactly like you.

        1. 1. I’m an anarchist.

          2. I’m generally OK with early-term abortion, though I won’t claim that it’s an easy or obvious decision. I can see why others disagree as to when it is acceptable to terminate another human being.

          3. Is it up to the benighted Socialist Planners to decide what the rest of us may keep as possessions and what is ‘owned’ by ‘all’? Yes, it is ultimately up to some people to decide for all what is and is not unlawful behavior. Not to be too cliche, but are you against infanticide? If not, on what grounds do you get to stop someone from killing (or abandoning and leaving to die) their unwanted toddler but not their unwanted fetus? Hell, why do you get to stop me from killing my neighbor?

          1. Because I’m wiling to adopt a common-sense distinction between killing a fetus and a 35-year-old and can do it without thinking about it too much.

            I’ve been waiting to ask an anarchist about this… there’s this smelly Siracha factory that’s spewing pollution that is making people have asthma attacks all over town. I’ve been thinking about blowing it up since I hate Siracha and like Dave’s Total Insanity Sauce better. I’ll make sure no one is in it. OK with you?

            1. I notice you avoided the distinction between a fetus and a toddler, though.

              No, that’s not OK with me. Why would it be?

              1. Why would it not be? You are a very milquetoast anarchist. Who says I shouldn’t be able to blow up that irritating, shitty factory that spews out pollution and crappy hot sauce.

                1. I don’t know, is this some “anarchists are all about trashing things” joke?

                  The factory owners are one group that says you shouldn’t be able to do that. I agree with them, in part because I have an interest in seeing the sanctity of property upheld.

                  1. Private property rights are not codified in anarchist dogma. In an anarchy, property belongs to the one strong enough to keep it.

            2. “Because I’m wiling to adopt a common-sense distinction between killing a fetus and a 35-year-old and can do it without thinking about it too much.”

              By my lights, the pro-choice position more or less depends on “not thinking about it too much”. Hence all the rhetoric about the right to choose, family planning, pre-viable fetuses and ensoulment.

      2. If YOU don’t like abortion YOU don’t have to get one.

        1. Troll smash!

        2. If YOU don’t like contract killers YOU don’t have to hire one.

          Derp.

          1. There sure are a lot of libertarian church ladies who think a government bureaucrat is better at making a decision for a women than that person and her doctor. Sieg Heil Mein Fuhrer!

            I’m beginning to have sympathy for the writers at Reason who have to read this right- wing dithering in the comments.

            1. And again, we have a social liberal begging the question by assuming as a premise that there is not a third rights bearing entity that the law may have an obligation to protect.

              And again, the irony of Godwinning your opponents when arguing in favor of eugenics and euthanasia is apparently lost on you.

              1. So, I’m for having the right and ability to choose an offspring’s genome and for the right to die so those things aren’t epithets to me. You say them like they should be.

                As for the third party I’m fine with giving one right–life– to the third party when its born. I find all the other distinctions, including viability, unpersuasive. Generally, I would imagine that abortions at 8 months would be for the welfare of the mother, but I’m also fine if the mother has a change of heart. Again, I’m not for having the government make that decision for a women and her partner.

                As a socialist I would also mandate the right to taxpayer-funded kindergarten, extensive maternity leave, paternity leave, and excellent elementary, secondary and university as the kid grows up.

                1. AS maybe you can help me? I understand the parasite argument that you can’t force a women to serve as an incubator of a foreign organism. However, why must that organism be killed before it is removed from the woman?

                  1. How could it be removed without killing it? Would you then keep it for implantation into a willing host?

                2. “You say them like they should be.”

                  You consider calling other people Nazis an insult…why?

                  “I find all the other distinctions, including viability, unpersuasive.”

                  So you believe that a trip down the birth canal magically imbues a child with personhood? I find that to be an irrational standard except for the utilitarian purpose of justifying abortion rights for as long as possible.

                  “As a socialist I would also mandate the right to…excellent elementary, secondary and university as the kid grows up.”

                  Why don’t you also mandate that Pi be equal to 3 while your at it? It would be just as effective.

                  1. “So you believe that a trip down the birth canal magically imbues a child with personhood? I find that to be an irrational standard except for the utilitarian purpose of justifying abortion rights for as long as possible.”

                    Yes, that’s been the standard for thousands of years before Jerry Fucking Falwell and “libertarians” stuck their ultrasound probes into a women’s vagina.

                    “Why don’t you also mandate that Pi be equal to 3 while your at it? It would be just as effective.”

                    yes, because it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world*

                    *with the exception of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Poland, France, the U.K., Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway

                    1. “Yes, that’s been the standard for thousands of years before Jerry Fucking Falwell and “libertarians” stuck their ultrasound probes into a women’s vagina.”

                      No, it was not. The standard had been quickening, which has moved back towards conception as scientific understanding of how human reproduction works has improved. Your counterargument is amusingly emotional.

                      No, it does not. I don’t believe any of those countries guarantee a university education (I know Germany does not), much less an “excellent” one from grade school on up.

                    2. Sweden doesn’t either. All the other countries, at minimum, require certain test scores for admission into post-secondary institutions.

                      Further, the distinction between post-secondary and tertiary institutions is muddled in many European countries. Post-secondary can begin as early as age 16 (if not before), such that tertiary education (paid for by the student) is essentially equivalent to our post-secondary education.

                      And one of the reasons European schools tend to be more successful is tracking. Basically, if you have the aptitude to be a welder, you aren’t going to get broad exposure to the humanities after a certain age.

                      But that involves high-stakes testing. And, by golly, we can’t be having that.

                    3. Left out Canada. People always leave out Canada…

      3. BTW… an anarchist that appeals to the “law?” What kind of bullshit is that?

    4. For once, Hyrda said it best; You enjoy making shit up don’t you?

  16. Let’s take another look at this biologically. Sickle Cell Anemia can be a life threatening disease. However, those with the disease are immune to Malaria. So if parents want to prevent their child from having Sickle Cell Anemia, they are opening the door for them to get Malaria.

    Now this is only an example. Certainly Malaria is treatable, but if we’re removing genes to prevent dementia, what disease is that opening a door to? Is it one we’ve never seen before, or one that natural selection took care of long ago?

    Why has dementia survived thousands of years of natural selection? Is it simply because it doesn’t set in until after someone has reproduced? Or was it favored because it protected against something else?

    Too many unknowns when it comes to playing with genetics.

    1. Your reasoning is basically the Precautionary Principle. It makes for terrible cost-benefit analysis, by being incredibly biased in favor of the status quo.

      BTW, next time you go to the dentist:

      “Why has being vulnerable to cavities survived thousands of years of natural selection? Is it simply because it doesn’t set in until after someone has reproduced? Or was it favored because it protected against something else?”

  17. What makes people different from other animals and other humans are our brains. Embryos and young fetuses have not developed the neural networks that give them personalities and personal traits. Terminating an embryo or a young fetus shouldn’t be an ethical problem because one can’t be robbed of something he never had.

    1. Embryos and young fetuses have not developed the neural networks that give them personalities and personal traits.

      Neither have infants.

  18. “The happy result is that the Kalinskys are the parents of three children-3-year-old twins, Ava and Cole, and 9-month-old Tatum-who have been spared the prospect of suffering the disease that is likely to kill their mother.”

    No, those three children would never have the disease no matter what happened. Perhaps those three would not have existed and three children who had the killer gene would have been born. The embryos that did have the gene did die because of GSS, they were killed because they carried it. It is a rather ugly method of “preventing” genetic diseases by euthanizing the undesirables.

    1. You oppose IVF. Almost all IVF procedures result in “extra” embryos.

      1. Most IVF procedures are brute force methods of questionable ethical implications.

    2. No, those three children would never have the disease no matter what happened.

      I appreciate the distinction you make here and have a few question for you or anyone else who agrees with the italicized text. Taking a zygote (one-celled embryo) and excising the offending gene, subsequently followed by replacement with the standard functioning code, have we not created an entirely different person? The sum of all they are is inside that cell. All they are ever going to be. What happened to the life of the previous being housed within that phospolipid bilayer?

      If you disagree with my initial assumption, then how much of the genetic material must be altered in the zygote before you would identify it as a different and distinct organism from the previously unaltered zygote?

      1. Obviously, there is a point where you change too much genetic material, you have a largely different individual than what you started with, but I don’t think changing out one problematic gene qualifies.

      2. This gets really murky really fast, especially if you want to preserve the idea of a right to life for adult humans.

        In the analogous thought experiment for an adult, where we change one gene in each of the billions of cells in the body, it would be hard to argue that we have changed the adult’s nature as a person, regardless of how important the one change is. Certainly adults who are stricken with radiation sickness are not considered to have become someone else because of the mutation of many of their cells.

        1. .

      3. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into how anyone could possibly think that an embryo trumps a woman. You believe that a fertilized egg contains “All they are ever going to be.” So, an acorn contains everything that an oak tree will ever be. You believe in Nature, and completely ignore Nurture. Believe it or not, what happens AFTER a child is born ALSO determines “all that they are ever going to be.”

  19. I am not comfortable using genetic tests to abort babies but I don’t have a problem with using them to select for embryos. That seems like a qualitative difference to me.

    1. No, it is pretty much the same thing. It is a difference because you think embryo is less than human.

      1. “It is a difference because you think embryo is less than human.”

        By definition, it is other than human, much as a sperm is.

        1. If that were so, you couldn’t identify whether it would be prone to a disease that effects humans. That the code is already baked in (to put it very colloquially) is evidence that it is not something other than human.

        2. By definition? What definition is that?

          I guess when people refer to “human embryos” that’s an oxymoron?

          1. .

        3. A human embryo is a complete human organism. A sperm is a component of a larger organism. Your analogy is not comparing like things and is a logical failure.

  20. Of course parents should be able to get information and act on it. They paid for it. What I cannot bear is those parents who pass on a deadly genetic defect to not just one but more kids. Their right, of course. But that seems more “evil” than saving your kid from early onset dementia.

  21. “Eugenics” is an ugly word with bad historical associations. “Designer babies” sounds much better. Same intent and results, but it sounds better. “Artisanal babies” would be even cooler.

    1. Why do you want to inflict horrible genetic diseases on innocent children?

      1. I don’t want to inflict anything on anybody, I merely want people to note that these other terms mean the same thing as “eugenics” and that they ought to remember what that meant and will still mean.

        As a modern Justice Holmes might say, “One generation of x-condition is too many.”

      2. You have no proof that these innocent children are guaranteed to get this or any other physiological disease.

        In fact, if you give birth to a child, today, they are immediately afflicted by a horrible disease call The Federal Government. That is a certainty.

  22. Even if you carry the gene for a disease (or diseases) there is not a 100% chance you will suffer from the disease. Also, unless 0bama totally destroys America, the probability is high that a cure for many genetic diseases will be found in the upcoming years.

    Given that information, it is immoral to deny a child their Right to live just because they might get a disease. After all, they might get hit by a truck, an asteroid, etc. There are a multiplicity of ways people die.

    You do not get out of life alive. Do we deny babies their Right to live just because they are going to die?

    1. Don’t say “babies” or “children” when we are talking about embryos.

      1. “Stop using language in ways I don’t like”

        How about you fuck off, and actually make an argument if you have a disagreement?

        1. Thank you. Erica Banal has no argument so he resorts to banality and profanity.

        2. How about you own up to getting called out for crap like conflating two different things (babies and embryos)? Don’t sneakily try to add erroneous emotional weight by saying that embryos are babies.

      2. Learn to read. The title of the piece is:

        “The Moral Case for Designer Babies”

        Note the last word in the title.

        1. But then Amanda and her husband learned that they could use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of their embryos to avoid passing the GSS gene to their kids. Fertility clinic specialists induced her to produce several eggs that were removed and then fertilized with her husband’s sperm. The resulting embryos were tested for the gene, and only those that did not have it were implanted in her womb.

          Note the actual process involving embryos as opposed to the use of a popular non-exact term. Embryos are neither babies nor children nor adults. Embryos are embryos. You can make claims about the person-hood of embryos but don’t conflate two different things.

  23. Dude that jsut aint gonna fly at all man.

    http://www.YourAnon.tk

  24. At minimum, we should be getting some laws passed to make sure the government cannot compel this sort of testing. This will very quickly escalate from an opportunity for parents to improve the lives of their children to a mandate for parents to improve the lives of their children.

  25. The most likely outcome of this is sterilization of tampered genetic lines.

    DNA is complex. its a layered rubix cube. changing 1 gene doesnt change 1 property of the organism.

    this has all the wisdom of rounding up ugly ppl and killing them all. sounds great from certain perspectives, but would likely extinct the species.

    1. “but would likely extinct the species”

      Just as Planned Parenthood and the rest of the Left want to do.

  26. For all of those who say we don’t have enough diversity, not enough deaf people, blind people, crippled people, sick people, stupid people, deformed people? I have even heard of parents in the “deaf community” arguing against early-childhood surgery and/or implants to give hearing to deaf babies, in that this is “genocide against the deaf”? Then just HOW MANY of this holier-and-more-natural-than-the-rest-of-us, Morally Superior People? HOW MANY of them are volunteering to cut off their arm or their leg, or take a drill press to their ears, or to take heavy doses of brain-destroying chemicals? THAT would help increase “diversity”, eh? ? Till they volunteer, they are just so many more hypocrites to be ignored. Health is good, sickness is bad. Freedom is mmm-good, slavery to our Moral Superiors is ugh-bad.

    1. “Should parents be allowed to know if their fetus will get Alzheimer’s?”
      No? And if they travel to a foreign land that has more freedom than we do, here in the USA, to gather such knowledge, shall we then imprison them if they dare to return? Or perhaps shine a bright light into their eyes (AKA “Men In Black” twinkly lights) so as to erase their unlawful knowledge? And if a USA citizen should travel to such lands, and get pregnant there, shall we inspect her womb, upon her return, for the presence of “illegal humans” in the form of designer fetuses? And forcibly abort the “non-human”, humans? For the sins of their parents DARING to want healthy children? Have the fascists of our day fully pondered the implications of what they are saying?

      1. Hey all you Dudes, Dudettes, and Dudesses? And others? The new Government Almighty entity for suppressing foreign-learned unlawful “carnal knowledge” about the genes you carry in your own body? It needs a catchy NAME, of course! Submit your suggestions now? But we hippagroovalistic Scienfoologists try to be WAY ahead, on cool new things like this? We propose “Almighty Servants Suppressing Foreign Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”, or, “ASSFUCK”? As in, “I got back from China after my genetics testing session, and tried to sneak through the border with my illegal knowledge, but I got ass-fucked by ASSFUCK? Oh, well, better luck to the next guy!” ? To learn more about Scienfoology, please see http://www.churchofSQRLS.com ?

  27. “Some bioethicists believe that such pre-birth testing is wrong, arguing that the information could…lead parents to terminate pregnancies of genetically at-risk fetuses. ”

    …Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this not exactly what Amanda and Bradley Kalinsky did?

    They conceived a series of embryos, had them tested, and then discarded the ones with disfavored genes. Can we really call these “bioethicists” irrational and wrong when their predictions are already coming true right before our eyes?

    1. Fertilized eggs were (probably, it doesn’t specifically state) destroyed. No pregnancy was terminated. There is no pregnancy without implantation. Would you consider the test tube pregnant?

      1. That’s really a semantics argument, isn’t it? Yes, technically “pregnancy” only applies when a fertilized egg is “impregnated” in the uterus. But in the vernacular, “pregnant” generally means “conception of a human embryo”. So at the end of the day, the prediction still came true. Several embryos were conceived, and some of them were aborted because they had “bad genes”.

        Am I really the only one concerned that one of the big predictions of the bioethicists has already come true? Would you really be okay with it if women started doing this all the time, conceiving human embryos and destroying the ones with genetic profiles they don’t like?

  28. Hey CBAST,
    In my basement, I have some technology? Don’t tell ANYONE, please!… That allows anyone to take any living body cells? Say, the linings of your cheek? And CLONE them all! In their millions, each and every tiny soul-harboring innocent one of them!!! Now that I have invented this, YOU and YER kind, you are NO better than the abortion mill-owner whose sign says, “No fetus can beat-us, bring yer own coat-hanger? You rape ’em, we scrape ’em? Come on DOWN!!!” And last but not least? Yer a MURDERING BAHSTAHD every time you eat something other than the most gentle fluids, or brush yer teeth!!!! DEAL with it, ya mass-murdering BAHSTAHD!!! Baby-murderer!

    1. What did that poor strawman ever do to you?

      The so-called “bioethicists” made a simple prediction, that pre-birth genetic testing would result in parents aborting pregnancies with high-risk genes. Is this not EXACTLY what the Kalinsky’s did? They conceived several embryos, kept the ones with low-risk genes, and left the others to be discarded or destroyed (or whatever these clinics do with the unwanted embryos).

      This was an abortion, by definition. No different than if the mother had taken an abortifacient drug to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

      Surely, if there’s one thing that pro-life and pro-choice people can agree on, it’s that abortion for the sake of *convenience* is not something to be encouraged.

      1. “Surely, if there’s one thing that pro-life and pro-choice people can agree on, it’s that abortion for the sake of *convenience* is not something to be encouraged.”? Oh-Tay, maybe? What is yer daffynition of “convenience”? The Devil is in the legalistic details, ya know? If it is merely to be regarded as a matter of “convenience” if my Dearly Beloved and I should be faced with the future of decades of wiping the nose and cleaning the diapers of a genetically defective baby who is little more than a future-less vegetable, v/s choosing to have a healthy baby? If that’s a mere trifle? Then I beg to differ! And by the way? If my partner or I take a ton of mutagenic chemicals, or sleep on a radioactive slag heap every night, and have genetically defective babies as the result of that, did GOD decide for that defect to come into the world, or did we? People who live in the REAL world, if they invoke God at all, will acknowledge the obvious reality that reproductive reality is the result of the decisions of “God” ***AND*** humans! Who decided to sleep with whom, or with which test tube? Well, heck, just blame it all on God, or sinners who disobey us and OUR opinions, and be done with it?

        1. Okay, you are clearly a raving lunatic too wrapped up in your own smugness to have a rational conversation, or even use proper spelling and punctuation (“daffynition”? The Hell is that supposed to be?). So you go ahead and rant away like a crazy person. You can even have the last word if you want, Mr. Crazy Man.

          1. Yeah man, ya figured me out? I’m an ideological idiot; I let my ideology do my thinking, instead of doing it for myself. Please don’t tell ANYONE! I’d hate to be discriminated against? We ideological idiots, despite us making up about 2/3 of the USA population? We get discriminated against, all the time! My ideology tells me that the Law of Gravity is unfair, and the Universe has NEVER paid ONE lick of attention to me about this matter of gross unfairness! ? Well anyway, ideology has taken over my brain. I have a friend, though, who is not like me? And this friend has written an actually THOUGHTFUL exposition touching on abortion. On the off chance you’d like to read it, see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/Abortions/ ?.

  29. What would to world have lost if the parents of Stephen Hawking had decided to “dispose” of his “embryo” because he would develop ALS?

    1. Take a trip down to your local prison and visit with the inmates. Come back and tell me how every life is valuable and no potential should be wasted.

      1. Unless you’ve figured out how to isolate the “crime gene” that determines whether someone’s life will end on death row, that’s not a very persuasive argument.

    2. Well, you talked to YOUR God, and He or She is all worried about the potential non-existence of Stephen Hawking in an alternate universe? I talked to MY GAWD, and He/She told me, “SQRLSY One, I had MEANT for that slot in Stephen Hawking’s mom’s womb, to be inhabited by a genetically selected BETTER human, who, by now, in the preferred alternate universe, would have invented anti-gravity, world peace, cured cancer, and cured socialism, to boot. But his Momma-Dadda-Babba did NOT listen to me, and so now, the Singularity is gonna hafta be postponed for like 800 years or so.” ? All because the ignernt pepples will NOT listen to GAWD!!! Ah just donnknow any moah?

  30. much more comprehensive whole-genome screening test is enabling physicians

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