Since the first “test tube baby” was born over 40 years ago, In Vitro Fertilization and other Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) have advanced in extraordinary ways, producing millions of babies. About 20% of American couples use infertility services and that number is growing. Such technologies permit thousands of people to have offspring. Prospective parents can also transmit or avoid passing on certain genes to their children, including those for various diseases, and probably soon, height and eye color too. In the US where the procedures are practically unregulated, a large commercial market for buying and selling human eggs is swiftly growing. New gene-editing technology known as CRISPR allows for even more direct manipulation of embryos’ genes. Designing Babies examines the complex ethical, social, and policy concerns surrounding these new technologies exploring how individuals are deciding whether, when, and how to use ARTs – and the economic moral and social challenges they encounter. He reveals the broader social and biological implications of controlling genetics ultimately arguing for closer regulation of procedures which affect the lives of generations to come and the future of our species as a whole.
Designing Babies: How Technology is Changing the Ways We Create Children
January 1, 2013
Courtesy of Robert Klitzman
- Thousands of prospective parents are now choosing the sex of their child. Would you ever consider doing so? If so, why and when? Do you think other people should be allowed to do so?
- New gene editing technologies will soon allow prospective parents to add genes to “enhance” their child with traits such as height, perfect musical pitch, and intelligence. Would you ever consider doing this? If so, when— for what traits? Do you think other people should be allowed to do so?
- Only three countries in the world— India, Russia and the USA— allow people to buy and sell human eggs. Should the U.S. continue to allow it? Why or why not?
- Most egg and sperm donors are anonymous, with no information about them kept by doctors or registries. Most people who are born using ‘donor’ sperm or eggs will thus have no established way in the future of learning any information about their biological parent. Several years ago, Great Britain outlawed such anonymous donation. Should the U.S. still allow it?
- Most states legally ban paid gestational surrogacy— in which prospective parents who are unable to use their own womb to carry a child (e.g., because of biological problems, or because they are gay men or single fathers by choice) pay a woman to carry their embryo in her womb. Should these states change their laws?
- Insurance plans tend to cover little infertility treatment, and often do so only for heterosexuals, arguing that infertility does not harm the patient’s physical health. Should any of this change?
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