I guess it’s true – you are your DNA. In fact, some children of the future will only be worth as much as the value of their DNA in their parents’ eyes. Nature wins out over Nuture in planning the family of the future.
Let’s all hope that human nature is strong enough to make these parents good nurturers.
Nancy Valko forwarded William Saletan’s column (“If you think it’s hard to explain where babies come from, try explaining where baby-making is going.”) from the Washington Post (Free registration required) on the business of making babies to order that is using IVF and PGD – and a good dose of old fashioned hubris – to allow parents to accept or reject their children earlier than ever before. The siblings who are rejected never even get a chance to disappoint.
The tests aren’t just for life-threatening congenital diseases like Tay-Saks any more. We aren’t talking about Muscular Dystrophy or even Down’s Syndrome. The testing has gone down the predictable and cliche’d slippery slope from selecting for a donor for a living brother or sister to Colon Cancer and Breast Cancer (50% chance as an adult) to arthritis (20% chance for a non-life threatening disease) to “balancing the family” by sex selection.
Mr. Saletan reports that according to a new study being released by the Genetics and Public Policy Center, 6% of clinics have already used PGD to select for children who can act as “tissue banks” for their siblings. In the example he gives, the cord blood from the baby brother was not sufficient, so the infant became a bone marrow donor. At least once.
There’s no question that some of these families are faced with heart-breaking choices. Others are treating their children of the future like subjects of next month’s Consumer’s Reports.
Perhaps the clinics could assign “My Sister’s Keeper” and “Never Let Me Go” as required reading for the “moms and dads” in question. I strongly suggest that they consider joining the “Bioethics Book Club.”