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· More Than Meets the Eye
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Should genetic screening be used to produce genetically healthy or even "designer" babies?

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· Banned
7,366 Posts
Should genetic screening be used to produce genetically healthy or even "designer" babies?

This is really two questions in one: “Should we screen for genetic defects?” and “Should we design our own children?”

With two questions, I have to form two different opinions, so let’s tackle them one-by-one:

Should we screen for genetic defects?

For me, this is something of a double-edged sword. Whilst I believe we should certainly test for all genetic defects, we shouldn’t be looking to eliminate all of them. But I do believe we should eliminate any defects that could severely impact the life of the child, including Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Alzheimers, Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, Schizophrenia, Cancer, Sickle Cell Anaemia and XXX/XYY Syndrome.

If we have the technology to eliminate illnesses and disorders that can make a person’s life unnecessarily difficult, I believe it’s worth the scientific research and funding that we put in to make it happen.

On a personal level, I suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism: All genetic disorders that, theoretically, we CAN screen for and will soon be able to eliminate. If there was a way I could have them all eliminated now, I would do. If I could’ve had my kids tested for them and any trace eliminated, I would have done. These three things have made my life far harder than it needed to be, so I would be 100% for being able to stop anyone else suffering from them, let alone anything more serious.

So yes, we should screen for genetic defects.

Should we design our own children?

Absolutely not. Whilst I’m for eliminating serious genetic diseases, hopefully eradicating them entirely, I’m not for people being able to have create-a-babies. You should NEVER have the option of deciding your child’s gender, race, hair colour, eye colour, height… whatever.

In the west, it’s essentially going to lead to a science-fiction version of what Hitler was trying to create: You’d have a society consisting of tall, good-looking blonde girls (With the occasional brunette) and tall, handsome, dark-haired guys - or their black/Asian equivalents - and nothing else.

In the developing world, if it were made universally available, we’d find ourselves with a much scarier situation: The total elimination of females entirely. I’m thinking, for example, of China. With couples only allowed one child per family and boys being held in higher esteem than girls, there is already a generation forming where there are nearly twice as many young men as young women, which will obviously lead to a lack of children being born, with even less girls, ad infinitum. To give the Chinese the option of eliminating female births entirely would almost certainly mean that there would be NO Chinese women within a few generations.

So, in summation: I’m very much for the elimination of potential birth defects, but there needs to be a very clear line drawn between that and having the option to choose what your baby looks like.

One is a solid, medically beneficial use of the science. The other is an abuse of power and will lead to men playing God. And no man should be allowed to play God under ANY circumstances.

· La Pistola
1,133 Posts
Should genetic screening be used to produce genetically healthy or even "designer" babies?

An interesting question, that poses a couple of sub questions in it. And by asking if we should screen to produce genetically healthy babies, I am going to take this as if we should screen every unborn child to see if they have a genetic defect or diseases.

Yes, I believe it is essential we should screen for genetic defects, because this is something that will drastically affect the life of the unborn child. If you put yourself in the position of a mother and father who both carry the Cystic Fibrosis gene, would you not want to find out if your child’s life is going to be so much harder by having this cruel disease. Also it would give you enough time to take in the shock of it, as well as give you time to prepare for such a life alerting disease by giving your child the best life and opportunities possible.

However, a current problem with genetic screening is that while it can see if the child is a carrier or has the disease; it cannot predict the severity of the disease. So putting this forward to you, do you believe it is worth the risk that can come with genetic screening that you could potential kill the unborn child just to know if something may be “wrong” with it. I myself deem this as a selfish act, but also can see why parents choose to do it. A risk also is that if the first test, which may be routine reveals very little and you are offered a much riskier test, like Prenatal Testing (Taking a small sample of the tissue around the fetus), is it worth the fact you might lose the child for this? I believe not.

Another part of why parent’s genetic screen is to see if they even want to keep the child, because they don’t want to bring up a child who may have Down Syndrome or another defect. I see this as a very selfish act, the fact someone would use it just to see if they will have an easy life and don’t want to put in the work to love a child no matter what genetic disorder or disease they have got, is just plain wrong in my opinion. I see this as inexcusable and this really is the bad part of screening because it gives people a chance at getting out of something challenging for once in their life’s. But there are only a small percentage of parents-to-be do this.

So to conclude the first part of my debate I believe that we should screen for genetic defects to help children have a batter life and make healthier babies but believe that it carries a certain risk that could put some people off.


Onto the next part of my debate, I will be looking at the topic of ‘designer babies’, which essentially means if we should be making what our child look likes and everything about it. From the moment I first read this, and at this moment I can see no reason to do this, no reason whatsoever. Why would you want to design what your child looks like? And what gives you the right to play God in such a way? We all are the way we are because of the amazing feet of fertilisation and what goes on when the sperm meets the egg.

When we get our DNA and the cells begin to split this is when we are given our features that make us UNIQUE to everyone else on this planet. Unique; the word that drives this whole subject. Why try to design the so called perfect child, which will give him or her no identity, when leave it up to mother nature and you will still get the same person who you will love for being your child, with the feature that come from you, and not out of a “catalogue”. It would take a very shallow person to want their child to be the best looking baby or very unnerving to want their child to be design for one purpose. This all poses the question if the person should be a parent in the first place.

This is been a very short and sweet answer as I believe it needs no more explanation, there should be no way that we should design if our child has brown or blue eyes, brown or blond hair, a button or thin nose … it just goes against every principle we are taught. Nothing should be judge by looks, or how “designer” it is.

To conclude, I think that we should screen for genetic defects as it serves a purpose that should alter human kind forever, and give hope for many who didn’t have it, while the other is just for vanity and serves no purpose.

· Registered
160 Posts
Should genetic screening be used to produce genetically healthy or even "designer" babies?

I am not going to lie, when I saw this topic I was very excited to get started on it. There are so many sides to this topic, and it is also a topic that I have constantly debated in science classes over the years. It is a topic that is new, and just the mere fact that there is even a debate surrounding this topic just proves how far we have come as a society scientifically. Many people say that it would be foolish not to take advantage of this technology, and we should do anything we can to “improve humanity.” However, genetically screening babies under any circumstance would be foolish and would cheapen the value of humanity more than it already is.

Before I get started I want to clear something up to possibly make my debate a little easier to read. I am going to refer to genetically screened babies “EB” (enhanced babies). I will also refer to non genetically screened babies as “NB” (normal babies).

Class System when making designer babies

To start off, having EB would create a class system that humanity would never be able to fix. Dr. Nicholas Agar of Victoria University in New Zealand views it this way,

“Some of the most challenging moral and ethical questions about a license to design babies concern the societies it might lead to. The movie Gattaca depicts a future in which genetically enhanced people take the lead, viewing unenhanced people as fit only to clean up after them. Liberal democracy is a cooperative venture in which all are seen as having something to offer.17 Will genetic enhancement bring this social arrangement to an end, creating societies in which unenhanced people are viewed by their genetic superiors in much the same way that we currently view chimpanzees, suitable for drug testing and zoo exhibits but little else?”

When you have EB who cannot get sick, are super athletic, or look devilishly handsome, they will have more opportunities than the NB. NB will not be able to get the same jobs, they will not be able to get the same insurance. Some parents will just not be able to afford this genetic screening. What will this do you ask? It will set up a very defined class system based on income. So what you ask? First of all, a class system is what we are against in this country. Another blowback will be that there will no longer be any “rags-to-riches” stories. The promise of America is that anyone has an opportunity to “make it.” Without this promise, you don’t have an Oprah Winfrey, an Andrew Carnegie, or even a Barack Obama. These individuals would have never been given the time of day if they were just NB.

Humanity lost in designer babies

Also, if we genetically enhance babies, we could lose our humanity. Let’s say that you have a EB who has super intelligence. When this baby is already intelligence, they no longer has to work to learn. They will loose that human development and experience of learning. If they are super sporty, they don’t have to work to become athletic. They would lose the joy of overcoming obstacles. Let’s dig even deeper. What if they could remove the gene that triggers sadness? No parent would want there child to ever be sad. So then, that EB would never be sad. If they are never sad however, they would never know extreme happiness. It is like the saying goes “you have to experience the storm to appreciate the sunlight.” How would you feel if society became emotionless drones? You would have to be whatever your parents would want you to be. How would THAT make you feel?

What about genetic diseases?

Finally, there is the issue of screening babies for disease. I believe that this could a worthwhile cause. However, like stated before, there would be some parents who simply would not be able to provide this for their children. The class system would come back into a factor. It would be much harder for NB to get health insurance or even a job because the risk of them getting a disease or cancer would be a risk that would not be there with EB. Also, not all embryos wouldn’t be screened, so it is quite possible that kids with autism, or any other genetic defect, no matter what the severity, would become second class citizens, and possibly be able to only get jobs in test labs or cleaning up after EB. I know I don’t want this, and I can’t imagine anyone else wanting it either. If the government could provide every family with this type of screening, it would be acceptable to screen for those diseases. However, until then, it creates an uneven playing field, that should not be created.

Imagine that you have a child. Now imagine, for some reason or another, you were not able to provide genetic screening to that child. That child would be made fun of all during school. Your child would not be able to receive insurance, or even get a job. Maybe you are saying, “oh striker, I would make sure to provide that for my child.” There is always the risk of something happening to not make that possible. Do you really want to take that risk? Do you want other parents to go through that? To wish that would be inhuman and very shallow. If we could not provide genetic screening for every child, which I would see as impossible considering the cost to individuals and the government, then we should not do it.

"Designer Babies: Ethical Considerations" by Nicholas Agar
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