The Falconer's Voice

Science has made designer babies possible, but there’s a catch

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GENETICALLY MODIFIED HUMANS: The process of embryo selection through in vitro fertilization has been most popularly used to create designer babies with specific traits and gender. The process has been questioned ethically, but is still seen as positive since it can be used to help stop the spread of genetically transmitted fatal diseases in offspring.

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GENETICALLY MODIFIED HUMANS: The process of embryo selection through in vitro fertilization has been most popularly used to create designer babies with specific traits and gender. The process has been questioned ethically, but is still seen as positive since it can be used to help stop the spread of genetically transmitted fatal diseases in offspring.

Caroline Albert, Editor-in-Chief

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Through the process of in vitro fertilization, you can now choose the characteristics and traits your baby will have. However, with the growing popularity of embryo selection from IVf comes the danger of tainting the future population of babies.

Now is the time to dig under your bed for those biology notes your teacher promised you would need in the future. Science is giving us the chance to choose the characteristics of our babies to ensure we get “perfect children.”

Model Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend recently revealed they used embryo selection and IVF to choose the gender of their daughter, due this spring.

The idea of “Designer Babies” is one that science has argued the ethics of for years.

Aside from gender, parents can choose the appearance, intelligence, and personality of their embryo, and genetically modify it to fit the traits they want.

The idea was positively used to manipulate genes so a baby would not have the genes for certain diseases, but it has quickly fallen down the slippery slope of genetically designing babies.

“The idea of being able to choose the specifics of your child is cool to think about, like it is definitely amazing how far science has come, but it is also scary that this is possible and people are more inclined to make a perfect baby and not just let it be,” says sophomore Sara Paone.

There are signifigant pros to the process, including reducing the risk of genetic and inherited medical conditions and diseases. It also can help increase life span, as well as giving a child genes that the parents do not possess.

Embryo selection through IVF can help prevent the next generation of children from developing diseases like Huntington’s. By genetically modifying the embryos, parents can ensure they will not have a child who will later suffer from a deadly disease.

Although the process has positive aspects regarding disease, it does include the termination of otherwise healthy embryos.

It can also create a major gap of characteristics and traits in society. There can also be damage to a gene pool, and it cause a lack of individuality. Likewise, geneticists are not perfect, and you could end up with a baby completely opposite of what you planned for.

Science has also made a three-parent baby possible. The embryo is composed through a specialized form of IVF in which the baby’s mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party. This was originally intended to prevent mitochondrial diseases, including muscular dystrophy and other heart and liver conditions.

Some maintain that gender selection would not be such an issue, but it is part of a much bigger genetic manipulation.

In 1999, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine held the opinion that using IVF for sex selection should “not be encouraged.”

People view gender selection through IVF as part of the concern that IVF is upsetting a natural process. Futhermore, there are potential dangers to gender selection alone. There have been reports that the process of gender selection and the creation of designer babies is unsafe for the embryo.

Regular IVF does not reveal anything about the sex of the embryo; conventionally, a doctor retrieves eggs and fertilizes them in a petri dish before implanting them back in the woman.

Over the years, the option to add a screening step has been added. The screening reveals a lot about the embryos, including gender. Doctors have argued that manipulating the embryo in order to do the screening carries intrusive risk to the embryo.

Some disagree, saying the screen step may lead to safer pregnancies since they can better determine which embryos are viable and can reduce the amount they implant. In turn, this can reduce the amount of multiple births.

Aside from embryo danger, embryo selection can lead to gender bias. There are concerns of countries and societies valuing boys more than girls.

Even if sex selection is not likely to skew the gender ration in the near future, there is a philosophical concern that parents should not have this level of control over their offspring.

On the other hand, the process could contribute to family balancing. If a family keeps trying for a girl after already having six sons, the gender selection can be helpful.

“This isn’t like you go to the supermarket and pick out your favorite bag of chips. You’re talking about a baby, I feel like you get what you get and don’t get upset. People should love the baby no matter what it looks like,” says sophomore Reenal Patel.

Designer babies have presented the opportunity to create a virtually perfect child through genetics.

As people continue to empty their bank accounts to create a designer baby, science continues to debate the ethics of the genetic manipulation.

Would you use IVF to have a designer baby?

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About the Writer
Caroline Albert, Editor-in-Chief

In her second year of Journalism, Caroline Albert is a sophomore at MTHS with never ending energy. Albert spends a large majority of her time focusing...

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Science has made designer babies possible, but there’s a catch