Designer Babies: An Ethical Horror? - Sriya Tallapragada


With advances in stem-cell research comes a whole host of questions regarding the concept of “designer babies”. A designer baby is a genetically-engineered embryo with specifically selected traits, to optimize health, fitness, or to introduce desired characteristics to a developing human.. This concept of designer babies mostly comes from parents’ wish to give their child the best in every aspect, starting at the genetic level.


While this would sound like something straight out of a science fiction novel; however, with the advances in tech, this could be happening in the near future. As a result, it has become a hot topic for debate.


Critics argue that designer babies could get out of hand. Abuse of genetic variation can cause an utter lack of diversity and a lot of issues regarding identity. Stem-cells were sought to reduce genetic flaws and reduce the likelihood of disease-contraction. . However, there have been debates over whether genetic modification to choose a babies’ gender is ethical. This could have a lot of negative effects, including a potential gender imbalance in the world. One highly publicized case took place in 1996 in which Monique and Scott Collins wanted to have a girl but instead had two boys and used genetic selection to make their third baby a girl. This was the first case that started to incite criticism. Many also debate the accessibility of the technology by socioeconomic status.. Some argue that this could be yet another socio economic barrier being built to separate the rich and the poor due to the price of the technology.


However, other bioethicists argue that parents have a right to prenatal anatomy, which gives them the right to decide their child’s fate. They believe that it could be used as a force of market regulation. Others suggest that parents already possess a high degree of control over their baby lives in the form of environmental choices. For example, a parent who loves art will raise their child around art, thus exposing them to that passion. This shows how babies could already be changed without genetic engineering. Also, using bioengineering can help with fixing infertility. The practice of IVF will help confer the ability to preselect embryos before implantation.


Utilizing all of that information,The Council of Ethical Affairs has released a statement supporting genetic variation in preventing or curing a disease. Ultimately, designer babies exhibit great potential in the field of science, and we will have to wait and see what happens.


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