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Designer Babies

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Is it ethical to be able to choose the sex of a child, his or her specific traits, or genetic characteristics? This is an important topic that is up for debate, and although there does not seem to be any right or wrong answer, this is very controversial. Many people say that this could lead to human cloning and the possibility of eugenics- the practice of "improving" the human gene pool by eliminating undesirable results. Some good results can come from creating these children in that they could help people with diseases, such as cancer or a blood disorder.

The term "designer babies" is a term used by journalists and commentators to describe how the babies were created through several different reproductive technologies. Designer babies are made possible by three different fields: advanced reproductive technology, cell and chromosome manipulation, and genetics and genomics. There are several techniques used to help screen the embryos for high-risk disease, unknown diseases, or select the sex of a baby. Today it is even possible for a person to select traits that they want the baby to inherit such as eye color or an athletic ability.

The first designer baby successfully conceived was born in 1997. This was the first case in human genetic modification that resulted in a normal, healthy child. By 2002, 17 babies had been conceived at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St. Barnabas, a New Jersey fertility clinic. Instead of just having two parents, these children had three genetic parents: mother, father and mtDNA donor.

Some parents elect to create a baby to help another child. One such case emerged in 2000 when the Nashes ran out of choices and decided to have another child. They had a six-year-old girl named Molly, who was born with a rare genetic bone marrow disease, and unless she received a transplant from someone with the identical tissue type, she would die. Both Lisa and Jack Nash were carriers for Fanconi anemia, a genetic disorder, leaving them a one-in-four chance of having another affected child if they became pregnant again.

In August, Adam was born to the Nashes and was a perfect match of tissue type for their daughter. This extraordinary phenomenon was made possible through PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis through which each embryo was tested to see if it had Fanconi anemia. Then once this was done, the Nashes also decided to check to see which one carried Molly's tissue type. In September, doctors performed a stem cell transplant on Molly, using blood taken at birth from Adam's umbilical cord and his bone marrow. The Nashes today have two healthy children.

This also raises the questions, "What if they had this baby just for the purpose of Molly and then decided they did not want the baby anymore? What would become of the baby?" It might just be thrown aside or have to deal with abuse once it has served its purpose. Once the baby is born, there is no telling what it might have to deal with everyday of its life. It would be labeled once it was born and would be in the media eye, an experiment to follow and study. These possibilities need to be carefully considered and the welfare of the child needs to be taken into account.

The government does not really have



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