Human Exceptionalism

Pushing Polyamorous Genetic-Related Babies

The bioethics movement grows ever more radical. In the reproductive field, many activists promote a near-absolute right to have a baby, the kind of baby we want, via any means we desire.

The UK’s John Harris is a major voice in utilitarian bioethics discourse, who believes that killing so-called human non persons is A-OK. He has now written in favor of creating children using a process known as IVG–in vitro gametes–using stem cells to create eggs and sperm, and then fertilizing via IVF. 

Harris extols the possibilities. For example, a single person could “self breed,” making a baby with only their own cells. Another use would be by same sex couples who could both be genetically related to a baby, rather than only one. 

Once “safe,” Harris also would permit IVG for those in polyamorous ”sentimental relationships” (!!!) to create a baby genetically related to all participants. ​From “Multiplex Parenting,” published in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

IVG could permit instead a much more substantive sharing of genetic kinship, through what is in essence a generational shortcut. Imagine that four people in a relationship want to parent a child while being all genetically related to her. IVG would enable the following scenario: first, two embryos would be generated from either couple through IVF with either naturally or in vitro generated gametes. hESC lines would be then established from both embryos and differentiated into IVG to be used in a second round of IVF.

In other words, the couples create two embryos and then destroy them for their embryonic stem cells. These cells would then be used to create egg and sperm, which would be joined in IVF:

The resulting embryo would be genetically related to all four prospective parents, who would technically be the child’s genetic grandparents. In light of the developments we have anticipated above, several variations are possible over this scheme, including trios and same-sex partnerships, though in the case of trios the extent of inbreeding would need to be dealt with on a par with that outlined above for self-reproducers using the process to make a baby solely from your own .

Harris’s essay demonstrates that current radical reproduction proposals–we are already close to authorizing 3-parent embryos–would not ultimately be about allowing people with genetic diseases to procreateAmeliorating health issues are as much pretext as purpose. The ultimate goal is enabling an anything goes culture in which extreme biotechnology is put to the use of fulfilling personal desires–especially those that shatter commonly denigrated ”traditional values.”

I have opined against permitting 3-parent IVF for safety and ethical reasons–and was ludicrously branded “anti-science for my trouble. Let me just add to what I have previously written that I don’t see how we can have a true “society” if the only commonality among us is ”anything goes.” 

Yes, I suspect that Harris hopes to shock and pull the chains of supposed dinosaurs like yours truly.  But radicals such as Harris truly are deeply committed to remaking society along the lines that relativism’s creator Joseph Fletcher proposed.

If they succeed, it will lead to a dramatic increase in the social chaos that we are already experiencing.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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