The Corner

To Protect the Interests of Whom?

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

To Protect the Interests of Whom?

Here’s a section in the lead story of this week’s The Economist, about a new report from the National Academy of Sciences that “gives qualified support to research into gene-editing techniques.” See if the sentence that jumped out to me jumps out to you as well.

The first gene editing will eliminate genetic diseases in a way that now requires embryo selection—an advance many would applaud. Adults should be able to clone perfect copies of themselves, as an aspect of self-determination. But breeding babies with new traits and cloning other people raises questions of equality and of whether it is ever right to use other people’s tissues without their consent.

The questions will be legion. Should bereaved parents be able to clone a lost child? Or a widow her departed husband? Should the wealthy be able to pay for their children to be intelligent and diligent, if nobody else can afford to do so?

Commissions of experts will need to search for answers; and courts will need to apply the rules—to protect the interests of the unborn.

You saw it, right? “To protect the interests of the unborn.”

It’s a delightfully glaring phrase in light of today’s abortion-on-demand philosophy and law, a cultural consensus in some powerful corners of the country but deeply controversial within the country as a whole. That sentence prods us: if the unborn have interests… why wouldn’t they have rights, as well?

Back in the 1990s, polling indicated more than half of all Americans considered themselves “pro-choice” and about a third considered themselves “pro-life.” Those percentages are now roughly evenly split; in a few recent years the pro-life percentage has actually been higher. Considering the once-unimaginable potential of modern technology, I’d say that shift arrived just in time.

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