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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Screening Out Embryos With Gene for Curable Cancer



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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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