Sperm donors, egg donors, and embryo choice. Oh my! What's the big deal and who needs reproductive ethical lines? Ann Althouse says:
I suppose the fact that I wrote those questions first reveals that I'm not especially concerned about this new step in reproductive technology. The cry of "eugenics" always goes up, but what are the people who raise it really worrying about? Not the return of the Nazis. It's all-too-convenient the way the Nazis pop up to assist in making the argument you already wanted to make. The real objection is to reproductive choice. Once you have disaggregated reproduction from the full human relationship between the parents, what makes you want to draw the line here? Perhaps your objection is nothing more than resentment that only rich people get to fulfill this preference. If so, who are you to intrude on their private life?When people marry, do they look at their mate genetically? Some do. I marveled at a couple I knew where one party's family had a history of Huntington's Disease. Read about it. It's a brutal, degenerative disease and a kid of a parent carrying the Huntington's gene has a 50-50 shot of getting it. (Suicide is a common end for these people--they know what is coming and can't stop it.) So, this couple, knowing these facts chose not to have the one party genetic tested for the gene and they wouldn't before having kids.
One argument against this new practice is that there are so many embryos left over from infertility treatments and that these embryos should be implanted instead. But, as noted in the article, those leftover embryos are made from the eggs of woman who: 1. is older, and 2. has a fertility problem. It still seems more charitable and unselfish to choose them, but does that make it wrong to want better? We have a sense -- don't we? -- that parenthood means an open acceptance of whatever child happens to arrive and that the desire to be selective reveals that one has not met the parenthood ideal.
What? That's just irresponsible. Weepy romantic notions have no place when considering the devastation of this kind of disease. So, yes, people should be somewhat choosy about their mates. And these tough discussions should happen between people. It's disturbing that most of these discussions are happening over a petry dish--and not for elimination of problem genetics but for the creation of superior genetics. What is that if not eugenics? And Hitler comes up because we know where this thinking, this slippery slope leads.
Think America isn't on that slippery slope? Have you been in a 1st grade class recently? Parents trying to give their child every edge--putting kids in class at six, seven to have an advantage. Ostensibly these kids were created the old-fashioned way. But when parents have a choice to choose 6'4", blue-eyed, blond, 200#, 200 I.Q. geniuses, don't think for a minute they won't opt for that choice. Oh, and once all the genetics for any perceived deficiency (wide feet, flat nose, gay, curly hair, fill-in-the-blank) are found, parents will have them eliminated.
People unconsciously filter genetic material. People with better looks, facial symmetry, and who are taller can translate into higher I.Q. and better fertility. Even still, once married, the undesirable genetics come through--gimpy, not very athletic, short attention span, stunted social skills. You know all that irritating stuff about your spouse.
Will there come a time when all that can be filtered out by gene or DNA therapy? And do we want a Barbie Doll world? And is this all a stupid discussion 'cuz were all gonna die at the hands of the Boomers anyway? On the chance that the world survives indefinitely, the slippery slope needs to be seriously addressed. Although, I think it might be so much wasted jaw-boning. Just like every killing creation has been used, every eugenic discovery will be used whether legally or on the black market. Rich people are using stem cells from harvested Eastern European embryos and fetuses and babies to look younger and live longer. What's to stop the rest of us once genetics enters the McDonalds realm?
In light of this narcissistic human proclivity, I'm rather traditional. My fertility philosophy is simple: I'm anti-choice except to choose NOT to have children because of genetic fears--like Huntington's. It's called adoption. One of Anne's commenters says, and I concur:
My line was crossed decades ago. I would draw the line at not separating the unitive from the procreative. Translation: unless you can make that child in your marital bed, it's a no-no.