Dr. Jeff Steinberg of Fertility Institutes of Manhattan and L.A., who has let thousands choose the sex of their babies, now says that in six months he will also be able to let parents decide the eye and hair color of their kid. “In the process of doing gender selection … we’ve also uncovered the technology [to] characterize things like eye and hair color,” said Steinberg. Of course, would-be moms and dads, will only have the choice of blue or brown eyes and blond or black hair. Doctors will create the designer babies during pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a procedure used to find problem embryos and to allow parents to pick the sex. After examining the genetic makeup of embryos created in the lab, doctors will only implant the ones that have the greatest chance of giving parents the desired traits.
I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with the Pope or right-to-lifers on anything, but when it comes to the idea of Build-A-Bear style babies, we’re in agreement. Pope Benedict has warned against this type of genetic manipulation for years, calling it the “obsessive search for the perfect child.” He said, “A new mentality is creeping in that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity.”
Lori Kehoe, executive director of the New York State Right to Life Committee, said it is “sickening to flush a member of the human family down the drain” because they are not considered perfect. I won’t get into the embryos are people debate here, but if a parent wants a child she should be able to love that child unconditionally, regardless of whether it has a particular eye color.
“Genetic health is the wave of the future,” said Steinberg, countering. “It’s already happening and it’s not going to go away. It’s going to expand. So if they’ve got major problems with it, they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences because there’s nothing that’s going to stop it.”
Obviously, I’m not a bioethicist, but this whole idea of designer babies smacks of eugenics to me because Steinberg himself admits that the technology isn’t 100 percent and the best results occur when the parents are of Scandinavian heritage, where the gene pools are less diluted. I doubt Steinberg, one of the doctors who helped create the first test tube baby, is trying to build a master race, but he is profiting from parents with the desire for designer babies. [Daily News]