Designer Babies the Abraham Center Term Paper

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Some rest their cases on their religious values alone. For instance, the Pope has officially denounced designer babies as being contrary to Christian values (Thavis 2007). The Pope called designer babies and embryonic selection "attacks on human life," (cited by Thavis 2007). The Pope even used the word eugenics to describe the "demographic control" that designer babies entail, and called the practice overt "discrimination," (cited by Thavis, 2007). The argument that discrimination is always morally wrong is deontological: eugenics, demographic control, and discrimination are all categorically wrong. According to the deontological standpoint, genetic modification of embryos and the practice of embryo and/or donor selection are always wrong no matter what: even if the practice prevented disease. The deontological point-of-view is opposite to the utilitarian one that would permit designer babies so long as the practice created a better society. Other opponents also use deontological ethics to oppose designer babies, noting that "selling" human beings for profit is categorically wrong. The act of controlling reproduction is itself a controversial topic in religion with many religious conservatives eschewing birth control and abortion as well as designer babies. Therefore, religious conservatives who at once decry abortion but at the same time welcome the right of parents to use artificial methods of procreation like artificial insemination or embryonic selection seem like hypocrites whose ethical arguments are tenuous at best.

Interestingly, the same arguments used in favor of designer babies are being used against them. For example, advocates of designer babies note that by breeding out genetic illnesses or disabilities society will be less burdened and quality of life for all individuals including the baby and its parents will improve. By the same argument, opponents of designer babies claim that crafting society would not improve quality of life. Instead quality of life would decrease especially because individuals with ideal genes would be considered superior to those with some defects. Society would become "unequal," in a scenario similar to the one posed in the film Gattica.
Designer babies also raise the issue of race- or gender-based discrimination because parents could choose the gender of their future child (Jakubik 2007).

Designer babies equals unparalleled control over the human genetic code and over human life. By selecting the genetic code of children, parents have greater control over the meaning of life than ever before. For some, control over life is viewed as an essentially positive state. Especially if embryonic selection improves the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities, then designer babies may be a welcome procedure.

The fear about designer babies is that they might create more problems than they solve. Designer babies could represent eugenics: the ability to kill off genes considered undesirable based on no other reason than racism. Parents could select only white children, only children with blue eyes, or only children who were tall. To the degree that personality can be bred, parents might also be able to choose the mental or emotional composition of their future child with unforeseen consequences on quality of life. The argument that designer babies might benefit society rest on the assumption that eliminating disease would lead to improved quality of life. They also rest on the assumption that being able to control the physical or psychological features of a child would help families.


Blogicus (2007). Designer babies? Worldview. Retrieved June 20, 2008 at

Jakubik, M. (2007). The ethics of designer babies. Pennsylvania Family Law Blog. Retrieved June 20, 2008 at

Ritter, M. (2008). Genetically modified human embryo stirs criticism. 13 May 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2008 at,4670,ModifiedEmbryo,00.html

Thavis, J. (2007). Pope denounces trend toward 'designer embryos'. Catholic News Service. Retrieved June 20, 2008 at

Woolf, M. (2007). Designer-baby rules 'should be relaxed to save more siblings'. The Independent. 29 July 2007. Retrieved June 20, 2008 at

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