If you were Octomom — and if you could have picked the skin color, hair texture and eye pigment for your litter of children — would you have tried to take that extra step in the genetic coding of your kids?
Racial profiling against your own festering fetuses isn’t the way of the future, it is our now and its nefarious medical label is: “Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis.”
From my Inbox:
A new ad on a fertility clinic’s website offers a procedure to select the complexion – as well as the sex, eye color and hair color – of future children. This development, along with the birth of octuplets to a southern California woman, brings new attention to the urgent need for effective regulation and oversight of the multi-billion dollar assisted reproduction industry in the US, says the Center for Genetics and Society, a public interest organization.
“Assisted reproduction in America has been a Wild West for too long,” said Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, the Center’s Associate Executive Director. “Responsible oversight of extreme reproductive technologies such as embryo selection based on skin color is long overdue.”
The website of the Fertility Institutes, a Los Angeles-based chain of fertility clinics, announces the “pending availability” of genetic tests for these traits. The testing would be part of the embryo screening procedure known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD. Dozens of assisted reproduction companies in the United States offer PGD for non-medical sex selection. This appears to be the first offer of the procedure for hair, eye, or skin color.
“Screening embryos for skin color isn’t about reproductive choice,” said CGS Senior Fellow and University of California’s Hasting School of Law Associate Professor Osagie Obasogie. “It’s about leveraging social prejudices to try to give your kid a leg up. Researchers say they haven’t yet identified key genes that control skin color in people of non-Caucasian descent, but this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how reproductive and genetic technologies could fundamentally reshape race relations.”
Would you ever want to create your own designer embryo? Is it wrong for you to prefer blue eyes and blond hair over brown eyes and black hair and then honoring that desire by changing the genetic code of your embryos?
Would you argue darker skin is a better protectant against sun damage than being light-skinned? Aren’t darker eyes less susceptible to UV damage than lighter colored eyes? Would your baby be better saved against the ravages of nature by “going dark” in all genetic indices?
If your fetus has Down Syndrome, would you want to genetically change your baby in situ, on a genetic level, to even out — or even remove — any trace of Down Syndrome?
If blue-eyed children are more successful and financially stable than, say, their brown-eyed kin — isn’t it child abuse to not give your embryos the supplemental genetic advantage of blue eyes if their lives will be better?