Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Screening Out Embryos With Gene for Curable Cancer


The UK continues to steadily widen the manipulation of procreation, this time, to permit parents to screen embryos so as to not have babies with a gene that causes a usually curable eye cancer. So, now we have gone from screening out embryos that would have a terminal disease such as cystic fibrosis, to a curable disease. And we screen for sex selection. Eventually, we will screen (or abort) about things that are not explicitly disease-related, such as propensity to being overweight or obese. After all, the child with a curable cancer will have a difficult time while being treated. He or she will be in pain, will be afraid, and will cry. The thinking is: Better to never be born.

But if preventing distress in our children is the motive for never letting them be born, the fat child may experience more suffering, over a far longer time than the relatively brief period it takes to cure the eye cancer. (Believe me, I know, having been overweight as a child. I cried myself to sleep for years.) If it is okay to spare the child with a likelihood of contracting a curable cancer from ever being born, why not also spare the child who might be fat from enduring the agony of life? (This isn't farfetched. I recall a poll taken a few years ago in which about 13% of respondents agreed it was acceptable to abort if parents find out their kid would be fat.) This is a very dangerous mindset that presumes we have the wisdom to decide who has a right to live and who are better off never existing. And there don't seem to be any brakes.


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