We Shouldn’t Worry About “Designer Babies”

Jacob Appel: If the slope is slippery there are far more level places on it.  I think that once simple distinction between the procedures we would require or strongly encourage and those really to remain neutral on, or oppose, would be if there are conditions that modern medicine currently tries to cure.  If they are, for example, conditions that Medicare or Medicaid would cover gives us a fairly bright line distinction.  There is no Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement for getting a nose job to look more handsome, or having your eye color changed.  In contract, few people would say that cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia aren't sufficiently handicapping diseases that if we could prevent them in utero, or in vitro, we should do. 

That being said, I have no particular qualms with designer babies.  I think the reality is that even if designer babies, so to speak, were available, not many people would make that choice, and the result would only be enhancement for those individuals who chose them and no harm to anybody else.  It seems to me there isn't that much difference between getting your child and SAT tutor and getting him into a good college, making him a little bit more intelligent before they're born.  In some ways you can save money in SAT tutoring if you put the effort in early on.

In vitro babies should be pre-screened for severe birth defects, argues Jacob Appel. If this creates a slippery slope, parents can find "level places on it" (and maybe save money on SAT tutors).

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