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Designer Babies: Ethical Considerations Nicholas Agar Summary by Aya Eltantawy Period 1 4-5-12 Designer baby: a baby whose

genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with in vitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics, Oxford English dictionary. This concept, once only a part of sci-fi movies has made its transition into reality bringing many ethical and moral issues with it. The first issue considered is the safety of the technology used in genetic modification; the second being the moral standing of creating these designer babies. One way to make a designer baby begins with an embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF). Genetic engineers modify the embryos DNA and then introduce it into a womb. This process could theoretically influence human traits like susceptibility to disease, shyness and athletic ability. However pressing safety concerns make this difficult to test on humans in reality. The experiment done on the doogie mouse revealed safety matters, for example, inserted genes are introduced randomly and it may arrive in the target genome in a way that disrupts the function of other crucial genes. The effect intend may be accompanied by others of which become evident only later and many of the traits we wish to select are polygenic. Pre implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) currently used by some people at risk of passing serious genetic disorders on to their children however PGD does not involve the genetic modification of human embryos and hence avoids some of the risks described. Cloning provides another pathway to selecting childrens characteristics. This process uses somatic cells and taking the nucleus and inserting it into an egg with a removed nucleus then finally the embryo is introduced to the womb. This does not of course guarantee that a clone will exhibit the same exact characteristics and talents of the original individual. This way of making a designer baby is not as popular because many parents want to have a genetic connection with their baby and if they use the nucleus from say Angelina Jolies cell they will be no more genetically related to their baby than they are to Jolie. The moral issue arises when it comes to distinguishing between treating and preventing diseases and enhancing traits. Society believes that treating/preventing diseases through genetic modification is acceptable, but who defines which diseases are suitable for treatment and which ones do not fall under the moral guidelines. When it comes to enhancement through genetic engineering there are two sides: the liberal argument and their opponents. The liberals argue that in effect by manipulating our childrens environment (choosing school, religious upbringing, companions) we are enhancing them and genetically enhancing them is only making use of another means of design. Their opponents say that these genetically enhanced humans are post humans and lack a certain amount of humanity that natural born babies possess. To the most challenging moral and ethical question presented by genetic modification; what type of societies it may lead to. Some fear that genetically altered individuals will take the lead and the unenhanced people will be left behind to do the menial work.