37°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Designer Babies

Designer+Baby
Designer Baby

One of the more prominent controversies within the scientific community has been whether Human Germline Genetic Modification, the technique behind the how designer babies are created, is ethical.
A designer baby is a baby whose genetic makeup has been selected in order to get a particular trait, or eradicate a particular defect in the baby’s gene. The concept of designer baby has been around since the ’70s, starting with in vitro fertilization, an experiment created by The Embryo’s Project. However, it was not until 1989 that the concept was actually implement within an experiment. With much success, it then began to become popular in the early 2000 in the United States.
The prospect of engineering a child with a specific trait has become an increasingly popular procedure, since it helps couples with infertility related issues. The practice confers the ability to pre-select before implantation. The procedure allows couples to screen viable embryos for various genetic traits, such as potential diseases the embryo could have and other traits that the embryo would likely attain, before implanting them into the mother’s womb.
Since this has been created, it has caused uproar throughout the scientific community as to whether it is an ethical procedure. There are many questions that are brought up, but these are very difficult to answer. One such question is whether it is right to prevent a disease. Some people say that having diseases does not make you any less than anybody else.
For example, a person on the autism spectrum can very well do just as much as anybody else. There’s also a question of what defines disease. Is what we normally think of a disease actually something that makes us unique and sets us apart from others, or something that isolates us and causes harm? What one person thinks is a disease can very well be something great to someone else. I certainly don’t think that every “disease” hinders you in life.
Sometimes it can be a good thing and make you into a better and stronger person. Eliminating all diseases through genetic modification can also make those who do have those traits feel isolated. It could make them feel like there is something wrong with them and lower our tolerance for others.
Another ethical question is whether parents are allowed to enhance their children’s traits. We always hear parents telling us that we are perfect the way we are and that we also need to find others who accept us for all of our quirks.
But letting parents create “designer babies” changes the whole game. It allows them to create their “perfect” baby rather than have their child and accept them for who they are. On the other hand, it is also argued that parents enhance their children in many other ways. Choosing a specific neighborhood, school, or religion can also be seen as enhancing your child in order for them to have a good future. They both technically have the same intentions, but a different way of executing them.
I guess the big question is, are we really enhancing people’s lives through genetic modifications, or are we isolating and phasing out whole groups of people?