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Designer Babies, “Children of Choice” by John A. Robertson

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    Within the first few hours after conception a phenomenon takes place in the one-cell human embryo that has awed scientists and philosophers for more then a century. The genes of the mother, carried by the ovum, and the genes of the father, carried by the sperm pair up. At that moment, when the paring is completed, the genetic fate of the person-to-be is sealed. The sex, color of eyes and hair, the height, blood type fingerprints, shoe size- indeed all physical and chemical characteristic are irrevocably determined, or are they?

    The concept of being able to look in on how genes were developing and alter how they turn out would of seemed like a science fiction novel in years past, but with modernistic advancements in genetic testing this concept has become a actuality. There have been momentous advancements in the area of genetics within the last twenty years, and the knowledge gained has at present been put to use in the medical community. There are various types of genetic testing available to expecting parents, some which are already commonplace.

    During the last two decades, prenatal screening for fetal defects has become a standard part of nearly every expecting woman’s medical care. All parents desire to have healthy children and are taking advantage of any test that may assure that. According to a recent article in TIME magazine “As many as 9 out of 10 pregnant women in the U.S. submit to some prenatal screening. The most common form of prenatal testing is ultrasound imaging, which uses sound waves to produce a picture- or “sonogram” – of the fetus. Today more then 80 percent of all pregnant women in the United States receive a sonogram during their pregentancy” (52).

    Women deemed at “high risk” for giving birth to a child with chromosomal abnormalities are also offered amniocentesis, a prcedure in which a needle, guided by ultrasound, is inserted into the uterus and withdrawls a small amount of amniotic fluid for cell analysis. Women may also opt for the somewhat riskier procedure of chorionic villus sampling (CVS).

    In CVS a small amount of chorionic villi (hair like fringes of the placenta) are removed by either using a catheter to pass through the cervix to the womb, or by inserting a needle into the abdomen. But with the progression of prenatal diagnosis occurring earlier and for a wider range of conditions we are likely to see more women using genetic testing for various reasons.

    Some of the genetic disorders that can be detected before birth include Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome, Hemophilia A, Huntington’s disease, and Sickle-cell anemia.

    In Hi-Tech Babies a book on alternative reproductive technologies Gary E. McCuen looks at what might become common place in the future of genetically constructing babies. “Soon it will be technically possible for a young couple in their desire to have an unblemished child, to take several of the woman’s ova fertilized in a test tube with the husband’s sperm producing several embryos with different genetic combinations. The embryo with the most desirable genetic traits would be implanted in the woman to produce a pregnancy” (31).

    McCuen accurately predicted in 1990 what is a normal process today. Princeton University biologist Lee Silver who’s book Remaking Eden addresses the process known as in vitro fertilization, the process of making test tube babies states; “When it was introduced it was horrifying to people and most said they would never use it even if they were infertile. But growing demands make it socially acceptable and anyone who’s infertile demands IVF”(21).

    This raises the question of what will be the limits? According to the book Children of Choice by John A. Robertson “The idea of selecting offspring traits-of quality control of offspring- is both appealing and disturbing. It is appealing because of the understandable desire for a normal, healthy child. Yet there is something deeply disturbing about deliberate efforts to assure a healthy birth, at least when certain means are used” (150).

    This development of “quality control” or “offspring selection techniques” raises a lot of questions, mostly how far is too far? But correcting is one thing perfecting is another. In a recent article in TIME magazine Nancy Gibbs warns against unnatural improvement; “Self improvement has forever been a American religion, butAccording to the book Children of Choice by John A. Robertson “ Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome, Hemophilia A, Huntington’s disease, Sickle-cell anemia, and Tay-sachs disease are all genetic disorders that can to date be detected before birth”. Robertson goes on to say “The idea of selecting offspring traits-of quality control of offspring- is both appealing and disturbing. It is appealing because of the understandable desire for a normal, healthy child. Yet t粂

    the norms of what is normal keep changing. Many parents don’t think twice about fixing crooked teeth but stop short of fixing a crooked nose”(59). So what if these “improvements’ could be done in advance?In a poll done in an issue of Parents magazine people were asked “If you could choose traits for your baby, what would you choose? 60 percent would rule out a fatal disease, 33 percent would ensure greater intelligence, 12 percent would influence height or weight, and 11 percent would determine the sex of their child” (14). It seems that most people agree on the idea of genetic

    testing for health reasons, but what about parents that would use genetics to enhance an already healthy child? Or those that would use enhancements that would save a child from psychological pain, by giving them an attractive face, or a charming personality? In Michael D. Lemonick’s article on the Future of Medicine he addresses the topic of selective genetics by saying “ Within a decade or two it may be possible to screen kids almost before conception for and enormous range of attributes, such as how tall they’re likely to be, what body type they will have, their hair and eye color, what sorts of illnesses they will be naturally resistant to, and even conceivably, their IQ and personality type.

    In fact, if gene therapy lives up to it’s promise parents may someday be able to go beyond weeding out undesirable traits and start inserting the genes they want –perhaps even genes that have been created in a lab.” (64). Will it gwould use enhancements that would save a child from psychological pain, be giving them an attractive face, or a charming personality?

    Some of the genetic disorders that can be detected before birth include Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome, Hemophilia A, Huntington’s disease, and Sickle-cell anemia. In Hi-Tech Babies a book on alternative reproductive technologies Gary E. McCuen looks at what might become common place in the future of geneticly constructing babies.

    “Soon it will be techniccally possible for a young couple in their desire to have an unblimished child, to take several of the woman’s ova fertilized in a test tube with the husband’s sperm producing several embryos with different genetic combinations. The embryo with the most desireable genetic traits would be implanted in the woman to produce a pregancy” (31). McCuen accuratllly predicted in 1990 what is a normal process today. Princeton University biologist Lee Silver who’s book Remaking Eden addresses the process known as in vitro fertilization, the process of making test tube babies states; “When it was introduced it was horrifing to people and most said they would never use it even if they were infertile. But growing demands make it socially acceptable and anyone who’s infertile demands IVF”(21).

    This raises the question of what will be the limits? According to the book Children of Choice by John A. Robertson “The idea of selecting offspring traits-of quality control of offspring- is both appealing and disturbing. It is appealing because of the understandable desire for a normal, healthy child. Yet there is something deeply dihere is something deeply disturbing about deliberate efforts to assure a healthy birth, at least when certain means are used” (150).

    According to the book Children of Choice by John A. Robertson “ Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome, Hemophilia A, Huntington’s disease, Sickle-cell anemia, and Tay-sachs disease are all genetic disorders that can to date be detected before birth”. Robertson goes on to say “The idea of selecting offspring traits-of quality control of offspring- is both appealing and disturbing. It is appealing because of the understandable desire for a normal, healthy child. Yet there is something deeply disturbing about deliberate efforts to assure a healthy birth, at least when certain means are used” (150).

    This development of “quality control” or “offspring selection techniques” raises a lot of questions, mostly how far is too far?In a poll done in a issue of Parents magazine people were asked “If you could choose traits for your baby, what would you choose? 60 percent would rule out a fatal disease, 33 percent would ensure greater intelligence, 12 percent would influence height or weight, and 11 percent would determine the sex of their child” (14).

    It seems that most people agree on the idea of genetic testing for health reasons, but what about parents that would use genetics to enhance an already healthy child? Or those that et to a point as Lemonick says, “where parents may be going to fertility clinics and picking from a list of options they way car buyers order air conditioning and chrome alloy wheels”(64) And what about the topic of choice of a child’s sex? Sex selectsturbing about deliberate efforts to assure a healthy birth, at least when certain means are used” (150).

    This development of “quality control” or “offspring selection techniques” raises a lot of questions, mostly how far is too far? But correcting is one thing perfecting is another. In a recent article in TIME magazine Nancy Gibbs warns agisnt unnatural improvement; “Self improvemnet has forever been a American regilion, but the norms of what is normal keep changing. Many parents don’t think twice about fixing crooked teeth but stop short of fixing a crooked nose”(59).

    So what if these “improvements’ could be done in advance?In a poll done in an issue of Parents magazine people were asked “If you could choose traits for your baby, what would you choose? 60 percent would rule out a fatal disease, 33 percent would ensure greater intelligence, 12 percent would influence height or weight, and 11 percent would determine the sex of their child” (14).

    It seems that most people agree on the idea of genetic testing for health reasons, but what about parents that would use genetics to enhance an already healthy child? Or those that would use enhancements that would save a child from psychological pain, by giving them an attractive face, or a charming personality? In Michael D. Lemonick’s article on the Future of Medicine he addresses the topic of selective genetics by saying “ Within a decade or two it may be possible to screen kids almost before conception for and enormous range of attributes, such as how tall they’ion will without doubt raise issues as well. Societies that value boys more highly then girls, including China and India, are already out of balance; this could tip the scales even further. Could parents decide to abort a child when they find out that it is the opposite sex of what they were looking for?

    Another question to ask in the topic of genetic testing is where is the value of life placed? This is where I am concerned. As a woman, and one-day mother, as a teacher of children, this is where I have issues with genetic testing in prenatal care. In that moment when the sperm meets the ova there is something miraculous that takes place. Life is created. And however small that life may be it should be valued.

    What if the news from testing is bad? Or vague? Should the fetus be aborted, or should the child be brought into the world? I am not opposed to all genetic testing but I feel it should be used in the service of disease prevention, not improving on nature. Having children is a huge responsibility, but I believe one of the greatest joys life has to hold. As you take on that responsibility you desire to have the best for your children, to see them healthy and happy, but I don’t believe this means creating a genetically altered ideal. I think wlook inmodifydiversecting woman’s medical care.

    Some of the genetic disorders that can be detected before birth include Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome, Hemophilia A, Huntington’s disease, and Sicre likely to be, what body type they will have, their hair and eye color, what sorts of illnesses they will be naturally resistant to , and even conceivably, their IQ and personality type. In fact, if gene therapy lives up to it’s promise parents may someday be able to go beyond weeding out undesirable traits and start inserting the genes they want –perhaps even genes that have been created in a lab.” (64).

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    Designer Babies, “Children of Choice” by John A. Robertson. (2018, Sep 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/designer-babies-children-of-choice-by-john-a-robertson/

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