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Fertility Clinic Bows To Pressure, Nixes Eye- and Hair-Color Screening

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gets-pretty-creepy-doesn't-it? dept.

Biotech 847

destinyland writes "A fertility service in L.A. and New York screens embryos for breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, and 70 other diseases — and lets couples pick the sex of their babies. But when their pre-implantation diagnostic services began including the baby's eye and hair color, even the Pope objected — and the Great Designer Baby Controversy began. '[W]e cannot escape the fact that science is moving forward,' the fertility service explained — before capitulating to pressure to eliminate the eye and hair color screenings."

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It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348041)

It's when fertility clinics start to offer to change the hair or eye color (or other traits) of a baby to be.

I guess I'm just old fashioned.

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348269)

If the human race goes extinct, it certainly won't be because we didn't reproduce enough. So really, what's the point of fertility clinics? As in, why don't people just adopt the already-existing baby that meets whatever "criteria" they have instead of doing all of this?

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (5, Insightful)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348351)

Because that wouldn't be propagating ones own genes.

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348365)

How big of an egotistical prick do you have to be to care?

I don't give a dog's dick if my specific genes are here after I leave..

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (5, Insightful)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348485)

People have cared about the survival of their genes since the beginning of time. It's why our species still exists.

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (1)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348463)

Maybe because some people want a child that is their own flesh and blood instead of someone else's?

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348511)

If the human race goes extinct, it certainly won't be because we didn't reproduce enough. So really, what's the point of fertility clinics? As in, why don't people just adopt the already-existing baby that meets whatever "criteria" they have instead of doing all of this?

That is simple.

Most people look to leave a legacy, not just an imprint of themselves on the world. We are equipped and wired to produce our own offspring, surrogating another's meets some of those predisposed urges, but not all.

The most adopted (adoptable?) kids are also very young, still at an age where the adopters can easily imprint and bond with the adoptee.

Oh, and the white ones fetch a higher price on the black market.

Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348525)

It's when fertility clinics start to offer to change the hair or eye color (or other traits) of a baby to be.

That's what bugs you? Because that's what they are doing... except much less efficiently. The clinic will create, say, a dozen embryos, and then test each of them -- the ones with the undesirable traits are then offed, and the good ones implanted. Sure, it reeks of eugenics more than a little bit.

But I think it's a little odd that you don't mind the eugenics, but you do mind the efficient process to make the eugenics work.

what is the big deal? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348047)

some people may want their kids to look like them. or not

Re:what is the big deal? (3, Insightful)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348117)

Kind of off-topic: but I think we're going down a slippery slope when we start screening DNA. It works against the process of evolution. What if there's a new fatal disease that only people with the breast cancer trait are equipped to fight?

Also Gattaca: society could expect a certain baseline of traits for what is "human". So people who don't meet that could be considered disabled, or worse.

Re:what is the big deal? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348225)

Kind of off-topic: but I think we're going down a slippery slope when we start screening DNA. It works against the process of evolution. What if there's a new fatal disease that only people with the breast cancer trait are equipped to fight?

Screening DNA could also be viewed as increasing mutation in the population by selecting DNA combinations that wouldn't normally arise.

Re:what is the big deal? (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348415)

Yes. But perhaps it is more helpful to have random mutations, and let natural selection decide what is beneficial. Letting humans decide what is preferable would definitely be some kind of selection and would create "evolution" in a sense. But I believe that the time-tested natural selection is more reliable when it comes to the survival of our species.

Re:what is the big deal? (2, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348469)

But I believe that the time-tested natural selection is more reliable when it comes to the survival of our species.

It's random... and you conveintly forget babies that die almost immediately because of some genetic flaw or those born with MS, Downs, etc. Natural selection isn't chosing anything.. it's random, and unlike humans, doesn't care if the result will work or not.

Ad disability (1)

suffix tree monkey (1430749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348259)

So people who don't meet that could be considered disabled, or worse.

I wouldn't label them as "disabled" myself, but if they were labeled as such, why is it such a problem? On a personal level, people usually do handle contacts with disabled people quite well; the only entities (except little kids maybe) that blatantly discriminate them are called "companies" and that problem will persist no matter which group of people we call "disabled".

After all, God wanted us to discover DNA manipulation... so let's fix the prejudices of greedy companies and be merry!

PS: I always wanted a ginger-haired daughter.

Re:Ad disability (3, Insightful)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348383)

A particularly good film on the subject (which raises some interesting things to think about) is GATTACA. For those of you who haven't seen it, I would highly recommend it. (Kudos to OP for mentioning, too.)
The biggest issue I have with genetic modification is trying to change it without first fully comprehending it. As is oft-said by my research supervisor- "it's like trying to find out how a car works by using a sledgehammer to hit parts of the engine". If we don't understand more of it, then there's a fair chunk of damage that could result from unforeseen complications.

Then again, should something go wrong, we can feign ignorance and ask for a bailout!

Re:what is the big deal? (3, Insightful)

cool_story_bro (1522525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348289)

I think what you meant is that it works against the process of natural selection. Any selective process, including this type of artificial selection, furthers evolution, but in this case "fit to survive" means "able to pass the screening process." The example you chose, while still a very real concern, less to do with evolution than with genetic diversity, which, as you imply, is very important to the survival of the species should our environment change violently

Re:what is the big deal? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348377)

Evolution is not a process; there is no "path" and it has no mandate to allow our survival. It's just something that happens.

Re:what is the big deal? (3, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348431)

You misunderstand 'evolution' - it's not a process of engineering the optimal lifeform. It's a random chance thing, where you bung a load of mutations in a pot, and see which ones die.
Engineering out or in particular traits are all well and good, but ... can you ever see humans being so conformist as to have identical children with a low biodiversity such that they're susceptible to something like that?
Not that I particularly care - as far as I'm concerned for the vast majority of humanity breeding is a privilege, not a right.

Re:what is the big deal? (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348449)

> society could expect a certain baseline of traits for what is "human".

Replace "human" wth "beautiful" and we´re already there.

Re:what is the big deal? (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348119)

Old fashion screwing has helped 99%* of the population achieve this goal through the history of mankind.


*DISCLAIMER: Yes I pulled this number out of my ass. Wanna fight about it?

Re:what is the big deal? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348235)

The big deal is that it's selection, not planning. Killing the ones you don't want because they have the wrong hair or eye color is kinda wrong, don't you think?

Re:what is the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348319)

You can't kill something that isn't alive.

Re:what is the big deal? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348423)

What's not alive about a cluster of metabolically active cells that take in nourishment, grow, and respond to their environment? It's only a question of whether or not that's "human enough" to regulate its destruction. For many people, it's okay to destroy sperm, okay to destroy eggs (nature does enough of both of these anyhow), but when they touch it's hands-off.

Re:what is the big deal? (1, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348345)

Aren't we talking about embryos here? In a fertility clinic setting, there could be several embryos per mother, even without the hair and eye color selection, because they produce lots of them in case the first several they try don't implant properly. Once these embryos are produced, are they bound by your moral code to allow them to become full-fledged human beings? In that case, everyone who goes to a fertility clinic will end up having a whole litter of babies!

Using words like "killing" to describe the discarding of unimplanted embryos is unnecessarily alarmist and does nothing to advance the debate.

Re:what is the big deal? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348493)

Are there any records of (other) animals in nature, namely mothers, culling off her weaker children? Here are three examples.

Askmen Top 10 Bad Animal Kingdom Mothers [askmen.com]

Lioness:

Any cubs of less than 2 years old are killed by the male to stop any future rivals challenging him for the pride, and also to encourage the lionesses to go into heat, allowing him to begin his own dynasty. The lionesses allow this to happen -- a cruel edge to their mothering nature.

Black Bears:

Black bears like to have litters of two or three cubs, as it takes a similar amount of effort to raise one cub as it does three. Because of this, it has been documented that if a black bear gives birth to just one cub, she will sometimes simply abandon it and will hope for a larger litter the following year. Unlike many animals that may abandon young which are sick or weak, the bear will abandon the youngster simply for being on its own.

African Black Eagle:

The African Black Eagle usually lays two eggs, although one is generally no more than an insurance policy. The idea of an insurance policy is quite common in the animal kingdom, but it is the manner in which the unwanted young is disposed of which is particularly shocking. The mother will feed only one chick, and as it grows stronger it will peck its weaker sibling to death. What is especially gruesome about this is that the mother will look on impassively as her youngster is dispatched.

In hindsight, aborting a potential human in the womb seems a lot less brutal.

Re:what is the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348317)

I want my kid to look like Megan Fox.

Re:what is the big deal? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348409)

ew ...and that's why you're not allowed to have children.

I don't get it... (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348055)

What's wrong with trying to get the eye color or hair color you want? What is the difference with that and picking the sex?

I mean, if you can get just the kid you want...why not? What are the objections? Hell, when they can start letting you pick if you kid is going to be smart and/or athletic...are they gonna can that choice too?

Re:I don't get it... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348175)

Picking the sex is more dangerous. If everybody does it we might get a womanless society. Ironic that when women are given the choice they prefer sons to daughters. Probably because they know their sons will not backstab them.

Re:I don't get it... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348201)

If you could simply manufacture a child to your specifications, there might be less complaint. But it doesn't work like this. The clinic fertilises a number of eggs, then kills the embryos that don't match the specification. Some people find this objectionable.

But this approach will quickly fail anyway. As the number of things we can test for genetically multiplies, it won't be possible to create enough embryos to produce one that happens to have the "perfect" DNA from both mom and dad.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348211)

"What's wrong with trying to get the eye color or hair color you want?"

I think the only way not to get the eye color or hair color you don't want is to abort the fetus after finding out it does not have the eye color or hair color you want.

It'd be one thing to abort because of genetic propensity for cystic fibrosis... but because of eye color?

Re:I don't get it... (4, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348277)

What's wrong with trying to get the eye color or hair color you want? What is the difference with that and picking the sex?

I'm not sure I get it either. As a subsequent poster points out, it's screening, not "designing". Couples are choosing among existing embryos.

Screening has been going on for millions of years. Humans have always been able to choose their mates based on visible criteria like hair color, eye color, athletic ability, etc. Why is screening acceptable for invisible traits (like propensity for cancer and other genetic predispositions), but not for visible traits?

Re:I don't get it... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348283)

Go, watch Gattaca, come back.

Then we talk.

I am just waiting for (5, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348337)

skin color and such to come down the pike.

Of course, if they could prove that sexual preference is genetic I believe we will see some real outrage with "We can guarantee your baby will NOT be gay"

Re:I don't get it... (3, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348339)

Hell, when they can start letting you pick if you kid is going to be smart and/or athletic...are they gonna can that choice too?

Most likely, it reminds people of at least one country where the government wanted a specific type of person.* That, and if someone didn't like the eye/hair color, they would destroy the blob of cells which some people consider to be a person. And we all know the Pope's stand on this subject.

As far as picking the sex, there are numerous countries where a male child is wanted and if it's a girl, it is killed or sold. This of course has a distinct downside. See this story [cbsnews.com] for tidbits of the situation.

*Funny how those who suffered the most are now demanding their own country be person specific with no "mixed blood".

Inadvertent selection (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348389)

I mean, if you can get just the kid you want...why not? What are the objections? Hell, when they can start letting you pick if you kid is going to be smart and/or athletic...are they gonna can that choice too?

One problem with allowing any sort of conscious selection on the part of humans is the possibility that we'll select against something we think is pernicious, but turns out to be beneficial - or something that has both pernicious and beneficial effects that we don't fully understand. For example, carrying a single sickle-cell anemia allele makes you more resistant to malaria.

Granted, selecting among several embryos to pick one that has X hair color or eye color probably won't approach this sort of danger, but as the technology advances, and people begin to select against all sorts of perceived pernicious traits, we may end up inadvertently eliminating a good deal of genetic diversity, which could prove to be very problematic.

lawsuit (5, Funny)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348075)

Would you have been able to sue them if your baby had blond hair when you wanted a brunette?

"No honey, of course mommy and daddy love you just the way you are... never mind the settlement we got because your hair color is wrong. It paid for all this dye!"

An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (4, Interesting)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348081)

On the one hand, this is pre-implantation and thus does not require the abortion of a fetus - no harm no foul, right?. One the other hand, it could easily be argued that one is playing god when you begin screening embryos for superficial traits.

Of course, if you choose to make the second argument, then one would also be playing god when embryos are screened for diseases, and thus should be disallowed as well.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (5, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348127)

I'd go even further and say any medical procedure, drug, etc. could be considered playing god. Sorry Timmy you got TB and are going to die, yes we could give you some pills to save you but that is playing god.

Personally I don't want some religion to tell me what medical procedures I can/cannot have because they think their holy book would approve/disapprove.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (4, Insightful)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348205)

Except there is no god, so you can't play him. Once more, religion gets in the way of science.
Imagine all the advances in science and medicine if we could get religion out of the way.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348323)

Even the most ardent fanatics of your cult proclaim that "probably, there is no God". Can you prove that He doesn't exist?

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348357)

Just as soon as you prove he does.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348433)

If I admit that I cannot prove that god exists, will you admit that you cannot prove that god does not exist?

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348509)

You can't prove a negative. So what?
Will you admit you cannot prove that Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist?
Will you admit you cannot prove the Invisible Pink Unicorn does not exist?
Will you admit you cannot prove Thor does not exist?
And on and on and on, this is why when theists use this argument I chuckle from the cockles of heart.

Devil's advocate * (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348441)

However the reverse is also true, can you prove he does?

*Assuming there exists a devil to be the advocate of. All views contained within this post are the views of the writer and not representative of the devil, his networks or the republican party.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (4, Insightful)

Synchis (191050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348401)

This really doesn't seem to be about religion to me.

I have 2 children. I love them dearly, and would never change anything about them. Part of the thrill of parenting, is the gamble about what kind of child you will end up with. To be able to choose the traits of your children, seems to make it all a bit superficial to me. Why not just grow them in a test tube?

Hell, why not just make baby farms as described in the Matrix? If we're going to take the gamble out of genetics, whats left for us?

As far as "Playing god" or whatever name you want to give it, "God" in this instance does not neccesarily refer to any given diety, but simply refers to the unknown force that normally determines the traits of your child.

I believe that there are forces in this world that we do not understand, that we should not understand, and that we should not meddle with because we don't understand them. Whether the decry came from the pope himself, or some guy living on the streets in new york, the message is still the same. By letting people choose their babies traits, we are taking away something that is profound.

When my first child was born, the first thing the nurse said to me was "Her eyes are brown... that never happens". I would not trade that moment for anything in the world.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348421)

"Playing God" is also an easy way to state the ethical quandary of making decisions in place of another being with their own free will. The phrase can be, and often is, religious, but it can also simply be another way of stating an atheistic ethical question.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (3, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348471)

Except there is no god, so you can't play him.

Nonsense. By acting as a god, you play god, even if you don't think any gods exist. You can play Satan too if you wished to. Or Sauron for that matter. The absence of a real god just means there's nobody to strike you down in the afterlife for your hubris.

There is still a valuable ethical lesson to take away from the concept. Even atheist scientists can recognize this. The point is, we are not omniscient, and messing with things we don't fully understand can have disastrous consequences. The humility "don't play god" suggests you should have should also inspire caution and careful consideration of what you are doing, and this is a good thing.

Imagine all the advances in science and medicine if we could get religion out of the way.

Is religion blocking science all around the world, or is the minor but present advances made by other countries while the U.S. turned away from science in the last decade supposed to be so impressive that it is clear religion is leading us back to the dark ages?

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

yhetti (57297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348483)

Imagine all of the cultural advancements we could make if people would stop praying to the alter of Science....

This isn't a troll, it's an honest response. As Science-the-religion has advanced, and religious adherence receded, the general mental wellbeing of western citizens has declined. Across the board, people report being less happy, less fulfilled, less everything, while they have more stuff, more medicine, more knowledge than ever.

In this case, instead of going through a natural birth and childrearing process, you are now in charge of your children genetic destiny, so to speak. If they get Parkinson's, it's your fault. Fat? Your fault. Stupid? Your fault. We, as a culture, are replacing the evolutionary miracle of genetics and birth with just another calculation. Something else to induce anxiety attacks in a culture increasingly devoid of any spirituality...

And once again, Science gets in the way of humanity.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348491)

Once more, religion gets in the way of science. Imagine all the advances in science and medicine if we could get religion out of the way.

Historically speaking, the Church (Galileo notwithstanding!) and Islam during the medieval period played a very large part in encouraging the development of science, medicine, and the arts. It varied by time period and region, but the link can't be denied.

Second, one thing that confuses me about these sorts of statements is this - presumably, you think religion is just some nonsense that stupid people latch on to. But even if you get rid of religion, people are still going to be stupid. What makes you think that these stupid people won't find something else to latch on to that has the same sort of negative effects as religion? In fact, getting rid of religion might leave a vacuum that could be filled by something worse...

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348497)

Except there is no god, so you can't play him.

Claiming that there simply is no god, is just as a religious statement as saying there is one. You're believing in something with no proof (the non-existence of god).

Once more, religion gets in the way of science.
Imagine all the advances in science and medicine if we could get religion out of the way.

Yeah imagine where we would be without the following religious scientists:

Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Planck, Faraday, and even Einstein once said, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

As an agnostic scientist, I found your statements to be quite ignorant.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348505)

You must have a degree in Eugenics. I think that was tried without much success.

But since you brought it up, start naming the advances one could make. And while yer at it, take a look at several large, populous countries where religion isn't really a factor, then tell me all of the advancements THEY are making.

For being so "scientific", you sound more like John Lennon.

Problem solved (3, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348273)

Just screen out the religion gene while you are at it.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (3, Insightful)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348281)

Oh please, "playing god" my ass. Screening for certain traits is as much "playing god" as having sex is "playing god." Artificial selection is not "playing god." This is completely within the bounds of the physical world, there is no magic here. Religious bullshit should be left in churches, and shouldn't interfere with scientific endeavours. And no it's not relevant even from a moral standpoint since religion has proved itself to be the utmost in immorality and perversion Humans have ever come up with. Or at least the things they do in the name of whatever mythical being they worship, religious fanaticism is more a mental disease than anything productive.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348403)

Mod parent up for the second sentence. You summed it up perfectly, sir. I agree, in a sense having sex is "playing God".

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348299)

Of course, if you choose to make the second argument, then one would also be playing god when embryos are screened for diseases, and thus should be disallowed as well.

It's the same distinction as between most medical doctors, and cosmetic plastic surgeons (as distinct from reconstructive plastic surgery).

"Playing god" to save a life or to bring health is playing god in the best way; I personally think God approves.

"Playing god" by manipulating surface features for the sake of temporal human aesthetics is to be a trite and shallow god.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348313)

All you idiots who are so delighted to jump in with your religion-hate-speech, chill. It's an expression, and I think anybody with common sense can understand the point.

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348521)

It's an expression, and I think anybody with common sense can understand the point.

Yes, but they've bludgeoned their common sense to death with a club called "pedantry".

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348315)

it could easily be argued that one is playing god when you begin screening embryos for superficial traits.

What role does god have in selecting which genes are passed from each parent to the child? I don't remember the chapter on genetics in the bible. Does god also determine which cards you draw when you play poker?

Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348477)

Same reason the DM makes you roll your attributes instead of defining them as whatever you feel like.

Pussies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348083)

kowtowing to the luddites...

Damn Christians (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348085)

Those damn Christians are always trying to push their stupid ideas on other people.

This is sacrilege. Repent OR ELSE. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348087)

Any/all of these activities go against God's sacred plan and it is a sin, plain and simple. Any who participate or who knows someone who participates are sinners and will go straight to the Pit upon death, to live an eternal existence in utmost torture. Is it worth it? You cannot play God and expect to have no consequences. In many ways, this is just as bad as abortion. What a tragedy we live in a country where such things are allowed. We need a Christian in the White House. We need to have religious priciples in this country again like we used to.

Re:This is sacrilege. Repent OR ELSE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348173)

I wish I had mod points....


Ok, I admit, I'd want to give the above +5 funny.

Re:This is sacrilege. Repent OR ELSE. (1)

hmar (1203398) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348417)

If we're not meant to "play god" Why di He create us in His own image? seem's to me it is his own fault.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348099)

... welcome our new genetically superior overlords.

Bring it on!

"Designing" is not the same as "screening" (5, Insightful)

nasor (690345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348105)

There seems to me to be a difference between "designing" a baby with genetic engineering or some such vs. simply screening a bunch of fertilized eggs and selecting the one you want. But of course, if the media called it "screening" rather than "designing," people wouldn't get nearly as worked up about it - and they know this, so they go with the more provocative language.

Re:"Designing" is not the same as "screening" (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348239)

I don't think "designer" in this context is supposed to imply how you get the custom-made baby; I don't think it's that technical. I think it's more intended in a fashion sense, like "designer jeans". The implication is that it is something well-off families will do in order to get the "right" kind of baby, rather than grabbing something off the rack at the thrift store and settling for what you get.

Whether you modify the genes of a single embryo to get red hair and blue eyes, or select from thousands of embryos to get red hair and blue eyes, I don't see much difference, either way it's babies-made-to-order. Yes there are hypothetically more issues involved with direct genetic modification in the future, but the distinction doesn't mean much for the issues of today.

Re:"Designing" is not the same as "screening" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348295)

Is this the same difference as

x = 20;

vs

while ((x = rand()) != 20) {}

?

Re:"Designing" is not the same as "screening" (1)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348385)

But there is no big difference! We are "designing" our genetics using the easiest tool we have access to: "screening." Your "screening" will create a design pattern in genetics: smart, athletic, sensitive, strong etc.

picking the sex is more evil (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348115)

and is unfortunately still prevalent in india, china, and korea, and immigrant communities from india, china, and korea

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/nyregion/15babies.html [nytimes.com]

they should outlaw sex selection. an absolutely disgusting practice

Re:picking the sex is more evil (4, Interesting)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348189)

Actually outlawing sex selection doesn't solve the problem. Allowing it might lead to a more humane situation than what is currently going on.

Re:picking the sex is more evil (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348243)

Actually outlawing sex selection doesn't solve the problem. Allowing it might lead to a more humane situation than what is currently going on.

I wouldn't call living in a giant sausage-fest humane.

Re:picking the sex is more evil (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348391)

In the same way that outlawing murder doesn't stop people from killing other people perhaps.

Re:picking the sex is more evil (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348247)

Disgusting or not, it alters the natural balance. I suppose one way China is dealing with the droves of young, frustrated men is to give them guns and put them in the army.

Re:picking the sex is more evil (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348405)

No, they should make it easy to do at the embryo stage so we don't get people leaving live babies to die in the dumpster.

Re:picking the sex is more evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348455)

an absolutely disgusting practice

Why? Because it offends you? Let the free market rule! When there are a shortage of girls, girls will become more valuable, and we'll see the return of the bride price [wikipedia.org] to Chinese culture.

Re:picking the sex is more evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348479)

They should outlaw sex selection. an absolutely disgusting practice

Why?

You say it's disgusting and evil, without offering an argument as to why.

So, back it up.

Personally, I'm ambivalent toward it, and there are potentially good reasons for it. Say, if all males or females in a family have a debilitating disease, or if they are only capable of 'naturally' producing one sex, or to help solve an unbalanced gender ratio in a population (which of course should be roughly 1-1, but I digress).

The only real objection I can think of is how the child may view themselves knowing (or not knowing) that they were intended a certain way, as opposed to rolling the dice to see what happens.

It's just as likely that there would be a new wave of 'All-Natural' babies to avoid any perceived social stigma.

fat vs. big bones vs. fluffy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348147)

Me: "All the kids in school call me fat."
My Mom:"You're not fat. You're big boned."
Me: "That's what I said."

I wonder if they'll offer screenings for obesity? bad vision? propensity to tell lame jokes? desire to dwell in the basement past age 18? /.'ers need to know these things...

Re:fat vs. big bones vs. fluffy (1)

cool_story_bro (1522525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348359)

C+H [explosm.net] touched on a similar subject last week

The article (2, Funny)

zepo1a (958353) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348159)

Looking at that baby designer GUI in the article...looks like that kid will have

orange straight hair
big brain
talks alot
will need glasses
and have blue eyes.

OMG, It's almost CARROT TOP! :)

Heavy Metal Baby (4, Funny)

Audiophyle (593650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348195)

Do they allow you choose whether the baby will have red irises, pre-painted black fingernails, a perm that needs no hair spray, and "Whitesnake" pre-tattooed on its chest?

Re:Heavy Metal Baby (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348245)

Do they allow you choose whether the baby will have red irises, pre-painted black fingernails, a perm that needs no hair spray, and "Whitesnake" pre-tattooed on its chest?

I still hate my parents for that!

Re:Heavy Metal Baby (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348327)

Everything but the Whitesnake tattoo. It goes against the Hippocratic Oath.

The Line Goes here (4, Funny)

keytoe (91531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348263)

Well, I've always wondered where the line would be drawn, and it's apparently at eye and hair color. To sum up, designing a baby to be resistant to over 70 diseases is cool - and designing a baby to be a particular sex is also cool. But choosing hair color or eye color, that goes to far.

If someone didn't draw the line for me, I'd never know where it goes. I've never been good at placing arbitrary restrictions on things I don't understand, so thank God for the Pope.

Re:The Line Goes here (2, Informative)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348427)

Don't be deceived by the summary. The Pope doesn't approve of destroying embryos because they have diseases (or predispositions to diseases) or because of their sex, either. "But when their pre-implantation diagnostic services began including the baby's eye and hair color, even the Pope objected" is highly misleading regarding the Pope's line-drawing on this subject.

Ginger Gene (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348267)

Maybe the one hope of eradicating the Ginger Gene is now gone...

Re:Ginger Gene (1)

arethuza (737069) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348495)

Come to Scotland and say that!

Fa!gorz (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348271)

Science is moving forward, but... (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348311)

...there's a big difference between what you CAN do and what you SHOULD do. Science does not obligate you to do everything it says that will work. Eg: atomic bombs.

I think there's a big discussion to be developed in the matter of what you can do and what you should do, but that argument is just dumb.

Now we'll have a genetic class-based society... (5, Insightful)

Radtastic (671622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348333)

Yes, there may not be any holding back the tide, but genetic "screening", "designing", or whatever you want to call it has a real danger of helping create even more of a class-based society, this one even more difficult for individuals to breach.

Keep in mind this procedure will only available to those who can afford it.

Want to grow up to become an athlete? Sorry, your parents couldn't afford to select genes that predispose you to becoming tall / strong / better cardiovascular function.

Want to grow up to become a model? Sorry, your parents couldn't afford to give you a slender physique, blond, and blue eyes.

Want health insurance? Sure, but it's going to be more expensive because your parents couldn't afford to eliminate your risk of ALS.

The challenging part is that yeah, if I have the choice to prevent my future kids from developing life-shortening diseases, I've got to do it.

Tough ethical choices ahead of us, imho.

Let's leave God out of this (1)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348387)

IMHO, this is something we as humans have to grapple with ourselves. To me, I experience moral squeamishness when I consider possessing the ability to pre-select my (potential) child's genetic traits. Pre-selecting against genetic problems that would make the would-be embryo unable to live unsupported (and there's a whole spectrum here) is one thing. But to decide if I want a girl with brown hair and blue eyes or a boy with brown eyes and blond hair, and oh, I want him/her to be athletic and have a better than average predisposition towards a high IQ? That's where I get squeamish. Who am I to determine what my child is going to be like to that degree? Yes, those are my genes being mixed with that of the mother's. Yes, that will be my child. But do I have the right to rob my child of the experiences he/she is going to have growing up? If I make my child 'better than average' along with everyone else, am I not just making my child 'average'? I'm tall, overweight, and have bad eyesight. My life experiences have been unavoidably biased around these genetic issues, and I wouldn't trade them in for anything. Those experiences are part of what makes me 'me'. To deny my child that kind of uniqueness and condemn him/her to a life of mediocrity masquerading as 'being designed better than your neighbor's kid' would be wrong to me.

Saying the pope objected isn't saying much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348393)

he is not an example of tolerance and open mindedness.

If its parents knew any better. (1)

reidiq (1434945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348395)

Do not make a white male with blue eyes. We are the scum of the earth according to half the earth. /sarcasm (please detect)

Enough already with the playing god argument !!!!! (0)

ViennaSt (1138481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348397)

You are saying by changing 0.00001% of your genetic code to affect a phenotype is "playing god." By that argument, ANYTHING humans have done over the course of our presence on this planet to alter your phenotype (these are the proteins that are expressed giving you all your traits, such as hair color or round red blood cells or whatever) is "playing god." So, if you dye your hair, are you playing god? If you take medicine to lower your blood pressure, are you playing god? If you move to a more tropical environment and eat only fruits so you lack the bacteria to digest milk products, are you "playing god?" And besides, how is changing something superficial like eye color MORE like playing god than downregulating the expression of the Her2 molecule (which has been linked the breast cancer)?

Think about how you have obtained your opinion on why this sort of procedure of gene targeting is evil--was it from a credible source?--or is it rehashed opinions from your childhood religious or conservative leaders--or even movies like Gataca that you've seen. There were MANY periods of time where the utilization of science was thought to play god. Why do we even allow vaccinations? After all, a vaccine causes a phenotypical modification of new antibodies that would not have necessarily occurred naturally (or in "god's will" as you would argue).

And another huge point. We have freedom of religion in this country right? Don't I and others have the right to not believe that ANYTHING we do is "playing" god's will or not believe in a god's will? By altering a small genetic sequence in a cell to change the pigment phenotype in an iris of a child is not playing god. And if it is, there are far more things humans have done to "play god" that you should worry about.

Re:Enough already with the playing god argument !! (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348515)

HUGE point in there. Anyway, nobody wants a factory of human beings used for evil armies - and people link 'eye color' and 'sex' as a first step to reach that distopia.

Another point is that there are selections based on genes that, if used in a wrong way, will bring problems to us as a race - eg, if everybody chooses to have a male child, etc. It doesn't mean that will necessarily happen, but I think that should be avoided for obvious reasons.

Far more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28348425)

Can you still screen for Republican genes???????

I predict! (2, Interesting)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348451)

This and its more controlled forms would last for two or three generations tops. Eventually people will get pissed off enough to realize that its idiotic to let someones parents choose their child's looks based on what the popular culture of their parents finds beautiful and attractive, with no regard for the fact that none of the kids will be able to meet the criteria of beauty in their own popular culture. It will be like the quest for super thinness and super buffness times ten. Several generations with no selfesteem.

Someone is gonna go, "guys, seriously this isn't working, and we are all ugly too boot."

The POPE ? (3, Insightful)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348453)

I don't understand the Pope's objection. The body is nothing more than a meat machine that holds the soul. If we have the technology to improve the machine that houses the soul, what is the problem? Jesus Christ. The disciples fixed the broken machine all the time in the new testament, back then it was called a miracle. Now we have the technology to improve the lives of all future children it would be a crime not to remove genetic diseases. Why does the church insist on allowing unnecessary suffering just so that they can provide comfort to the person who is suffering? Wouldn't it be better to eradicate the suffering in the first place?

What is the big deal? (0, Flamebait)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348475)

This is great and if being gay is genetic then they can screen for it
That will allow your kid to not have to grow up with all the trouble that comes with it.
Mod me troll, Please. But atleast you are now thinking about what I just said.
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