Designer Babies


Should parents be allowed to seek "genetic enhancement for their children? Recruit genetic and reproductive science to produce a smarter child? A better looking child (according to their judgment)? An athlete?

• Is genetic enhancement different, or less justified, than, say, breast augmentation or a face lift?
• Now, wait a minute, we're talking about an unborn child... doesn't he have a right to determine his genetic destiny?  What if his parents want him to be a doctor but he wants to play football? Will meddling in his genes put him on a path he'd rather not take?
• Wow!  Heavy.  So there is a distinction between curing  and improving, right?
• Once "genetic plastic surgeons" open shop, are we going to have 2 classes of human beings -  those with access to enhancement technologies, and those (without)......passed down the generations, the two classes will become subspecies of human beings — the enhanced and the merely natural?


Yes, top students reap rich rewards, even as egg donors

Would-be parents want high scorers

Stephanie Ebert, Boston Globe (March 26, 2010)

The Harvard Crimson was one of three college newspapers that ran an identical classified ad seeking a woman who fit a narrow profile: younger than 29 with a GPA over 3.5 and an SAT score over 1,400. The lucky candidate stood to collect $35,000 if she donated her eggs for harvesting.

From a sample of over 300 college newspapers, findings revealed that almost one-quarter of advertisements offered payment in excess of $10,000, a violation of guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

Compensation strongly correlated with average SAT score of the university's students, according to the study published in The Hastings Center Report by researcher Aaron D. Levine, of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

THE OLD EUGENICS (not just in Nazi Germany but in the USA):

• Theodore Roosevelt wrote Davenport from Cold Spring Harbor Genetic Labs (my neighborhood):  "Some day, we will realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty, of the good citizen of the right type, is to leave his or her blood behind in this world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of the wrong type."

• Margaret Sanger, pioneering feminist and advocate of birth control:  "More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief issue of birth control."


•Singapore: soft eugenics: in the 1980s, the government instituted policies to encourage college graduates to marry and have children — a state-run computer dating, financial incentives for educated women to bear children, courtship classes in undergrad curriculum, and free "love boat" cruises for singles. At the same time, low-income women who lacked a high school degree were offered $4000 as a down payment on a low-cost apartment — provided they were willing to be sterilized.


The Repository for Germinal Choice: A eugenic sperm bank opened by Robert Graham in 1980, dedicated to improving the world's "germ plasm" and counteracting the rise of "retrograde humans." The "genius" sperm bank closed because one of the Nobel laureates who had donated sperm revealed his identity.

The 'BABY BJORN' SPERM CRISIS (about 2 years ago): (source: CNN)

•New Yorkers looking for a bouncy, blond, blue-eyed baby are in a panic...

•Cryos International, based in the Financial District, has gone to seed because the FDA banned sperm samples from 30 countries to prevent the spread of mad-cow disease.


* In his book, The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering, Harvard professor Michael Sandel writes

"...there is something wrong with the ambition, be it individual or collective, to determine the genetic characteristics of our progeny by deliberate design. "

* Whether you're trying to improve your offspring by genetic technology or by selecting a smart and/or good looking sperm or egg donor, the ethical question remain: is this right?

* The issue of PAYMENT for eggs or sperm, above and beyond the compensation given to the donor for their effort, is considered flawed and rides down the slippery slope of paying for body parts.

*But the question still remains: what's wrong with prospective parents to try to "upgrade their child?" and how is the GAMETE DATING GAME different from the PEOPLE DATING GAME?

•LIBERAL EUGENICS is explained as aiming to improve what God deliberately or nature blindly (gave us) (Dworkin)

•In that "Genetic supermarket "(Nozick), "...(the parties to the social contract) want to insure for their descendants the best genetic endowment (assuming their own is fixed). (John Rawls, A Theory of Justice)


•No violation of the child's autonomy or "right to an open future," provided the enhanced capacity is an "all purpose..."

•The liberal "principle of ethical individualism" not only permits but commands the struggle to "make the lives of future generations of human beings longer and more full of talent and hence achievement."


"...genetic intervention to select or improve children ... violates autonomy because genetically programmed persons cannot regard themselves as the sole authors of their own life history and undermines equality by destroying "the essentially symmetrical relations between free and equal human beings." (Habermas)

Professor Sandel concludes, "Changing our nature to fit the world, rather than the other way around, is actually the deepest form of disempowerment."