The New York Times published DNA Blueprint for Fetus Built Using Tests of Parents which describes some successful research done at the University of Washington which found a fetus’s DNA using only the mother’s blood sample and the father’s saliva sample. The purported benefit of this procedure is to be able to identify DNA anomalies, which would lead to the offspring having a genetic disease, and then terminate the fetus. The averred bad of this technique is the ability of the parents to intentionally terminate the fetus if it didn’t measure up to their expectations for their child. They might not want to spend their entire adulthood raising a child that didn’t have the qualities they wanted.
The ability to sequence an entire fetal genome is likely to raise numerous issues. “There are some scenarios that are extremely troubling,” said Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a public interest group in Berkeley, Calif. The tests will spur questions on “who deserves to be born,” she said.
Use of the approach could lead to an increase in abortions because some parents might terminate the pregnancy if the fetus was found to have a genetic disease. But it is also possible that parents may be tempted to terminate if the fetus lacked a favorable trait like athletic prowess.
“You could start doing things more toward the direction of positive selection,” said Dr. Stephen A. Brown, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Vermont.
The ethical arguments against artificial selection seem weak because humanity from the beginning has been formed by selecting those people to mate with who are most likely to bring children into their family that are as near perfect as possible. The opening lines from a marriage sonnet I wrote a quarter century ago begins: “The goal of marriage is to raise a child, A perfect rose to your ideal self, Upon which every loving eye will smile. Praise good in him, he’ll be your loving elf.” Humanity came into being because of the Artificial Selection of women who were very choosy about the males they chose to mate with. Men are still choosing their mates by Sexual Selection of the healthiest females, but the rest of what makes us human has always been under the control of the women and their conversations about what makes a good father and husband. We tend to call these conversations gossip, but it is that gossip which created humanity as we know it.
This latest method for making children even better will result in making humanity better in every way and we should proceed as quickly as possible.
I believe in the indefinite perfectibility of humanity.