As our technology continues to advance, new breakthroughs in medicine arediscovered. With these new developments serious ethical and moral questionsarise. Advancements in genetic engineering, reproductive technologies, cloning,organ transplanting, and human experimentation are all causes of concern. TheHuman Genome Project, an incredible scientific undertaking determined to producea map of the human DNA code, will tell us how each gene or group of genesfunction (Lemonick and Thompson 44).
With this map, scientists and doctors willbe able to figure out how genes can malfunction and cause deadly diseases. Ofcourse, they will also know what each gene controls, and how to manipulate andcontrol our genes to get the specified, desired results. This is exactly thetype of tool researchers need to perfect the science of eugenics. “Eugenics”- a powerful word from the Greek stem meaning “good inbirth” (Gray 84). In the past, it was thought that we could improve thequality of the human race by making it impossible for those with undesirabletraits to reproduce.Order now
Charles Davenport once said that he hoped “humanmatings could be placed on the same high plane as that of horse breeding” (qtd. in Gray 84). Many states in the United States have put into place laws thatrequired people in custody with hereditary defects to be sterilized (Gray 85). The false science of eugenics and purification of the human race swayed thesestates. One such example of this is the 1927 Supreme Court case of Buck vs.
Bell. The result of this case was the sterilization of Carrie Buck, theseventeen year old daughter of a “feeble-minded” mother; the mother aseven month old daughter, already determined to be of “subnormalintelligence”; legally declared a “moral imbecile” herself. Butthe concept of purging our race was not present in the United States alone. Hitler’s concept of eugenics consisted of sterilizing the blind, schizophrenics,and those with terrible physical deformities (Gray 85). Now, with theadvancement of genetic engineering, genetically altering the human race has madea huge leap forward. Soon scientists will be able to genetically pre-determinenearly every characteristic new-born children are likely to have.
Doctors willbe able to determine how tall a child will be, what type of body they will have,what illnesses they will be resistant to, and even their IQ and personality (Lemonick64). As Jeremy Rifkin, a critic of biotechnology, says, ;It’s the ultimateshopping experience: designing your baby. In a society used to cosmeticsurgery, this is not a big step” (qtd. in Lemonick 64). However, thegene or combination of genes that make up these favored characteristics have notyet been found, so it is not yet possible to engineer a variety of genes, bothin and out of the fetus (Lemonick 64).
According to a TIME magazine poll, ifgiven the choice of which traits a person would choice for his or her child,sixty percent of those responding would choose to rule out a fatal disease. Thirty-three percent of the people would request greater intelligent, twelvepercent desired to influence height or weight, and finally, eleven percent ofthose questioned would determine the sex of the child (Lemonick 64). Also,according to the same survey, thirty-nine percent of those polled believe thatparents with genetically linked diseases ought to be required to test theirchildren for them, while fifty-five percent did not (Lemonick 64). When speakingof genetically altering genes to obtain the proverbial “perfect baby,”one must address the issue of genetic discrimination.
If researchers are able tolocate the exact genes that determine our mental traits or characteristics,could zealous parents or possibly the government use this ability to destroy anycharacteristics they see as undesirable and remove them? Then proceed to add thetraits they consider good and guarantee everyone receives them (Yount 86)? Theissue of genetic discrimination will become more and more prevalent as societycontinues to strive toward perfection, and new methods of obtaining this aredeveloped. As geneticist Karl A. Drlica said in 1994, “What we now call anaverage child may eventually be considered defective” (qtd. in Yount 80).
This is a relatively easy point to defend. When a group of parents isgenetically altering the future generation to perfection, those not engineeredwill be at a disadvantage. Soon we will have the technology to escape havingchildren with certain “defects,” such as attention-deficit disorder,below-average height, lower intellect, homosexuality, or a possible geneticallylinked disease. Will those individuals still possessing these traits beostracized and made to feel even more .