Type: Research Essays
Sample donated: Lauren Carlson
Last updated: July 26, 2019
Gattaca is a movie that portrays a future being controlled by eugenics, where children’s genetic diseases are prevented and traits are selected by their parents before birth. Those who are naturally born are considered invalids and are put to low-status jobs. In this case Vincent Freeman, one of the last children conceived naturally, is considered a member of the underclass while his brother Anton conceived by genetic selection. Vincent is born with numerous genetic shortcomings such as with poor eyesight, heart defect and with an estimated lifespan of 30.2 years.
However, his inferior status does not stop him from dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Gattaca is one of the film’s that arouse the discussion on designer babies. Today question is are we beginning to enter the the society of Gattaca? It is unethical to genetically manipulate the unborn. By performing genetic modification on babies we are crossing an ethical line.
Indeed, having a child with best traits and getting rid of horrific diseases sounds great but allowing it results in many different disadvantages such as decrease in human diversity, creation of a wide gap between rich and the poor, and many unintended effects in the genome. Believe it or not soon designing babies will become a reality. However there are are many factors and impacts to consider when doing this.What are Designer babies? Designer babies are babies that are genetically designed in vitro to create a customized child. It’s the ability of the parents who decides the genetic makeup of their babies. To do this most common method known as CRISPR-Cas9 and PGD is used. CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence. The protein Cas9 is an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors, which is capable of cutting strands of DNA.
Another method PGD is used PGD is PGD could be used by parents to avoid having a child with disease. preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), in which embryos produced through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are screened for the unwanted gene. One of the reasons why genetically engineering babies is wrong because we don’t know what exactly it will do in our future generations and by designing babies, we are designing an entire society as well as our future generations.
Babies are reflection of their parents and their genes is what makes them unique from others. Crispr-Cas9 sounds great method for getting rid of diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS and genetic conditions such as Huntington’s disease. But a new study has found that Crispr-Cas9 can introduce hundreds of potentially harmful mutations into DNA. For example, researchers in the US had used Crispr-Cas9 to restore sight to blind mice and they found that “Crispr-Cas9 had successfully corrected a gene that causes blindness in the mice, but the two mice that had sustained more than 1,500 unintended single-nucleotide mutations, and more than 100 larger deletions and insertions” (Crew). In addition, those changes that are made in the genome could passed on to generations and we have no idea what could these changes will do in ten, twenty, and hundred generations from now.
According to a Pew Research survey 83 percent said genetically modifying babies for any reasons would be taking medical advances too far.Designer babies creates a new kind of racism. If we allow designer babies to play on, the question will be what would happen to the babies who weren’t not born with these superior qualities? Well, they would simply be judged and discriminated. For example, if a designer baby and a non-designer baby are competing for a job. For sure, the designer baby would get the job because he/she is far more superior in every aspect than the non-designer baby. In this type of situation the non-designer baby would get the low-paying job just like in Gattaca movie where Vincent gene was known to be inferior and therefore he worked as a cleaner at the astronaut space where he is only recognized for his inferior genetic qualities and not for his great personality. Of course, every parent want their child to be successful in future and so the only way they easily would find a way is through designation of their baby By deciding what genes are considered favorable in a child, we discriminate against those who own unfavorable traits, creating a society established in eugenics. Thus genetic hierarchy will be formed and children also become valued only for their genetic talent and not for the individuals they are.
We don’t know for sure whether genetically engineering unborn child will lead to healthier society or eugenics. Perhaps the most well-known example of the eugenics occurred in Nazi Germany. The eugenics carried out by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime killed millions of Jews, Gypsies, mental patients, and disabled people between 1933 and 1945. Nazi regime believed that all of these groups were considered genetically inferior and therefore a threat to the purity of the “Aryan race.” Nazi eugenics in The Nazi eugenics program had two faces, positive and negative.
The positive face aimed at increasing the number of pure Aryan births whereas the negative face aimed at eliminating inferior genetic influences in Germany. Similarly the designer baby way of genetically modifying offspring is very similar to that of positive eugenics. And thus increasing the use of CRISPR will help us move toward a modern eugenics movement and enables parents select the inevitable “blue-eyed blond-haired” designer babies. If we want to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself, then we must acknowledge the fact that designing babies is morally wrong and won’t be beneficial for all of us. In fact, many would say that, as a program of positive eugenics, genetic enhancement is antithetical to beLastly, another major ethical concerns of creating designer babies is that it would be very expensive and and would generate problems of equality and fairness. In other words the rich will have access whereas the poor will be struggling to compete against the rich since they can’t afford to pay for such technology on designing babies whether it be for curing genetic diseases or genetically modifying their traits. As Rahul said this will only increase the disparity between the various social classes.
The average cost of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is $3,550 plus gender selection may cost as much as $18,000 according to current estimates. For the rich it may not be problem, for the poor it’s a another major obstacle they have to face and go through this challenge. Therefore, giving the option of designer babies only to upper class results in an unequal chance of success for the middle and lower classes.Do we want to live this world by creating more problematic issues? We are trying hard enough to get even rid of the idea of racism, so why do we want a new kind of racism based on genetic selection? It would give some people an unfair advantage over others with respect to competitive goods like beauty, sociability, and intelligence.We don’t even know whether changing genomes with specific methods will harm or not our future generations? Therefore there should be a limitation imposed regarding the ethical concerns of genetically modifying babies before our world enters the society like Gattaca where everything will be based on our genes. It would give an unfair advantage to some people over others because some would be able to pay for expensive enhancement procedures while others would not (Glannon 103).