While reading the article I was struck by obvious ethical conflicts. The first is the principle of non-malificence, or a doctor’s obligation to do no harm. Is intentionally creating a child with a significant physical disability violating this principle? Yes. The individuals involved would be writing the child’s life story for them, and setting them up for a life of pain and struggling. The article quotes Dr. Robert J. Stillman who reminds us all that “one of the prime dictates of parenting is to make a better world for our children.” One cannot forget the responsibility of the parent and their obligation to do what is in the best interest of their child. Is the “deliberate crippling” of these children the way to do that? I say no.
The second major issue that stuck out to me was the idea of the child’s rights. A lesbian couple, both of which are deaf, was referred to in the article. They decided that the best child for them would be a child with deafness, so they searched for a deaf sperm donor to increase their chances. They were successful and their son was born mostly deaf. They then selected to not give him hearing aids. This is absurd! They are denying their child the right to hear. They have withheld opportunity and ability. The medical community or social society should not support such behavior. The precedent being set by such actions is very dangerous.
Numerous case examples brought up in the article were scenarios of parents choosing a dwarfism gene, and saying that having a child with dwarfism, like themselves, would be “a blessing” and they could not imagine what life would be like if their average height child had to deal with little parents. But I think that the meaning of that claim is coming from a different place. I think that what many parents are probably thinking is “what is my life going to be like when she is different from me?”
I have a strong belief that much of the use of the new reproductive technology comes from a selfish place in parents. The title of this article is pitch-perfect, “Wanting Babies Like Themselves…” In choosing genetic defects for their children, parents are manipulating the PGD process and taking the preventative intention out of this technology. As Dr. Yury Verlinsky states, “If we make a diagnostic tool, the purpose is to avoid disease.” People need to be cautious to not take advantage of biotechnology, take care in their decision-making, and beware of shortsightedness.[written by kmcmanamy, a University of Vermont student -- thanks, Casey!]