Do You Have Something in an Übermensch?

The Times of London reports that a technique is now available to screen embryos for an eye tumor gene, thus giving "hope to families with the disease." It gives somewhat less hope to the embryos that have the gene, however, because any technique for screening for such things is invariably used to weed out the unwanted embryos in favor of the, er, more desireable ones--you know, the ones who grow up to be spokesmodels. This particular cancer is not particularly dangerous, with a treatment success rate in excess of 95%, so the culling that will take place as a result of this test is largely to save time, expense, and hassle.

I've got two kids, and I could certainly save a lot of time, expense and hassle if I were to, er, cull them now before they reach college age, but I suspect my neighbors wouldn't look too kindly on it. In fact, one of them is a big enough jerk that I think he might even report me to children's services if my kids were to suddenly stop traipsing through his garden. If only they were smaller--a lot smaller, say, the size of an embryo--then nobody would notice if they were to disappear. It's not that I don't want children, mind you, but I don't really know much about their genetic structures, and who knows what terrible things might go wrong with them at some point down the road. If I could just trade them in for kids with perfectly engineered genes I swear I would be perfectly happy.

And while I'm waiting for perfect happiness in the form of perfectly engineered children, I'll keep checking my comments section for arguments showing that human embryos are not, in fact, human beings, or that they do not have any of the rights that all the other human beings have simply by virtue of being human. I'm sure there are a lot of really clever people out there who have figured this one out and will be only too happy to enlighten me. I won't hold my breath, though, because in many years of listening to such arguments, I have yet to come across a sound one.


Tom P. said…
Not all genetic testing HAS to be for purposes of culling the flock. I know people, for example, who did the genetic testing for Down syndrome just so that they would know and be prepared if it turned out that there child had Ds. But you are correct that the reality is that most of this type of testing is used to dispose of the trouble of raising a child with a disorder of some sort. A recent study showed that more than 99% of people who found out that their child had Down syndrome chose abortion. One fears how many more abortions will occur as the testing gets even better. "Mr. and Mrs. Carson, I am afraid that our testing reveals that your son will grow up to be a Philosophy professor." "Oh my God... when can we schedule the abortion!" ;-)

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