Aug 20, 2012 | Heidi Stevenson
A leader in medical ethics advocates that IVF be used to create designer babies. Aside from the idea’s obvious lack of morality, he also twists history and appears to be unaware of IVF’s harmful effects.
Professor Julian Savulescu, a leading figure in medical ethics, strongly advocates the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create superior babies. He calls it a “moral obligation” to create “ethically better children”.
Savulescu, Editor in Chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics and Oxford University Practical Ethics professor, wrote a story for Reader’s Digest, advocating for a modern-day eugenics system. His take on health and character seems to be that it’s all a matter of genetics.
Apparently being a medical ethicist has nothing to do with learning from history or with having any moral sense, and being aware of a medical procedure’s deficiencies is clearly not a concern of the profession.
In his article, he tosses off the issue of eugenics with this statement:
Much of the unease about designer babies comes from the work of the 20th-century eugenics movement. It tried to use selective breeding to weed out criminals, the insane and the poor, based on the false belief that such conditions were caused only by genetic disorders.Yet, that is precisely what he’s advocating! In an interview, he stated:
Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children.The very thing that Savulescu states was wrong with earlier eugenics programs is precisely what he claims we’re obligated to genetically engineer: “personality flaws”. Obviously, neither logic nor knowledge of history had any part in his ideas.
They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others.
If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring—rather than consigning them to the natural lottery—then we should.
He seems to believe that superior children can be created through IVF. However, the reality is that these children are more likely to suffer from cancer, have low birth weights, be premature, have heart defects, cleft lips and palates, and blocked or missing parts of the esophageal and anorectal tracts. What benefit can possibly result from presumed better genes when the procedure itself is so defective? But that, apparently, is not a concern.
Savulescu doesn’t seem to place any value on knowledge of the procedure on which he propounds about ethics. That seems rather unethical—but perhaps medical ethicists aren’t required to know anything about a procedure before propounding on the ethics of its use.
In conclusion, Savulescu’s Reader’s Digest article states:
Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.We could also do a lot worse. Leaving alone the question of whether positive human genetic engineering could even be accomplished, the idea that people have the wisdom to determine what traits are good and what are bad is hubristic in the extreme. Who would make the decisions? Parents? Government? Will parents who refuse to genetically engineer their children be accused of child abuse?
The Goal of Designer Babies
It isn’t difficult to see where Savulescu envisions this going:
That doesn’t necessarily imply that people should be coerced into making a choice, but we should encourage them.“We”—the patriarchal we—should “encourage them”—the inferior masses. In other words, he and his elite friends should push their image of what constitutes the best, or more likely, the appropriate baby for each couple. Does he envision different things for different classes? Should the working class be bred to a lower level of intelligence than the elite? Should they be designed not to question their “betters”?
Modern education is designed to dumb down the masses, to make them obedient and unquestioning consumers of junk and scurrying workers in the sweat mills of the elite—and it’s been frighteningly successful. People seem willing to go through life wearing blinders, unwilling to see the destruction of jobs that are satisfying, ignoring the rampant destruction of the natural world, and acquiescing to the theft of health choices, food choices, and basic civil rights.
With regard to designer babies, the question is: Have the people been turned so docile that they’ll willingly go along with this modern eugenics scheme that could permanently turn people into little more than automatons?