With every advancement of fertility technology, society seems to inch a little bit closer toward the point of no return, that place where the last shred of dignity for life in the womb goes out the window. Well, we seem to be just about there. Slate magazine is reporting that a Los Angeles company specializing in "assisted reproduction" has begun advertising the "pending availability" of tests that would allow parents-to-be to choose the gender, eye color, hair color and complexion of their artificially conceived children. Yes, that's right folks, now it's not enough to kill off human lives because of a genetic predisposition toward certain diseases; very soon it will be considered business as usual to kill off children who have a genetic predisposition toward freckles or frizzy hair.
The Slate piece by William Saletan should be praised for exploring the monumental ethical issues surrounding the impending reality of designer babies. Saletan quotes from the fertility company's own materials to show how doctors can convince parents to screen for cosmetic characteristics by linking it to screenings for chromosomal abnormalities. While a mom-to-be might abhor the idea of screening only for blond hair or blue eyes, the ick factor drops considerably if the screening is an add-on to a battery of tests for serious conditions.
"See how smooth the transition can be? You're already screening for diseases. Why not add one more factor while you're at it? So now you'll know which embryos are male and which are female, just in case two of them turn out to be healthy and you're lucky enough to be able to choose which one to put in the womb," Saletan writes. "And if you're checking sex, why not throw in eye color and complexion? You don't have to do anything with the information yet. Just run the test and find out what your options are."
It really wasn't that long ago that the idea of "designer babies" was seen as something out of science fiction, or just alarmist propaganda on the part of pro-lifers. But here we are, once again, on the doorstep of the latest development that will decide the fate of a life on something as insignificant as hair color. I hate to say, "We told you so," but we did and, as usual, society refused to listen.
Thanks to Ed Mechmann over at Catholic Varia for the heads up on this story, which you can read in its entirety by clicking here.