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Should parents be able to design their own babies - Essay Example

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Sarah is staring down at the sleeping form of her newly-born son, Marc. "We chose him especially from our frozen embryos," she says. "Martin, my husband, didn't want him to turn out alcoholic, like his father, and we didn't like the idea of him being obese like my mother's sister."
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Should parents be able to design their own babies
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Download file to see previous pages However, what is hidden behind the images of the healthy little girl, is that she has a gene ensuring that she will never fall victim to the HIV virus.
Genetic scientists have already found the key that will give man the capacity to change the shape and destiny of human beings. Babies-to-order are no longer the futuristic fantasy of science fiction novels; the ability to design future members of the human race has already become a scientific reality. And as this technique advances, so will man's potential power to create, and fundamentally change, chosen aspects of human genetic make-up. This fact has already been understood by genetic engineering, and is being increasingly applied, as more and more parents opt for embryo screening (Shannon Brownlee, Washington Post, 2002).
The choice of having embryo's screened to determine the presence of various life-threatening diseases, became UK law in 1990, with the introduction of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Then in April 1997, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (GMO: Genetic Engineering, 2007).
The resulting document, which was signed by 41 MP's from different countries, clearly states that genetic testing can only be performed in relation to health purposes, and that gender selection is forbidden, unless pertaining to a serious hereditary sex-related disease (Donald Bruce, 2007).
The recent use of the approach of preimplantation genetic diagnosis in determining whether cancer cells were present in embryos, before implanting them into the wombs of four perpective mothers, took the use of PGD one step further. The acceptance of cancer as a possible disease that can now be treated by PGD, has pushed ethical, and legal, barriers forward (Sarah-Kate Templeton, TimesOnline, 2007).
This development, and science's recognised ability to introduce esthetic elements into human embryos, are raising serious questions, as concerned groups and organisations attempt to define man's moral, ethical, and social guide lines.
According to the BBC;
In just four years time, the Human Genome Project, will have unraveled the locations and identities of every single component of the genome..... [this] will help lead to the identification of genes responsible for character traits such as predisposition to happiness and intelligence - as well as physical characteristics such as hair and eye colour (BBC News, 2000).
This essay will be considering the question of whether parents should be allowed to design their own babies from two different positions. First, it will consider the arguments of a group of doctors and scientists working on incurable, child killing genetic diseases, who are in favour of granting permission for such approaches as embryo screening. Then it will be considering the position of an environmentally and ethically concerned organisation, which although not fundamentally opposed to genetic engineering approaches, fears that this approach is a step too far, and who therefore will be denying permission.

Brussels, September 200.....
Conference Report for Doctors & Scientists: Making Decisions for PGD.
Man's war against disease, over the past decade, has advanced dramatically through the introduction of such techniques as PGD. This ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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