May 20, 2014

Building a Better Baby

by Mary-Elsie Wolfe

Since January 7, 2012, I have kept a newspaper article because its title caught my eye: Building a Better Baby. Even if the article had been about nurturing your baby, feeding your baby and creating an environment for your baby that preps him or her to the best advantages for health and growth, I would have read it with some trepidation—my children are now 8 and 10 and the mistakes that I made in their first five years are done. But, the article’s focus was the gains in science to create designer babies. It doesn’t talk only about eliminating those embryos having genes prone to different diseases, but also about manipulating the genes for height preference, eye colour, athletic ability or intelligence. Some of the yeah-sayers insist that parents make important decisions for their children all the time so this is just one more way parents can influence their lives. One prominent Oxford scholar wrote, “People who procreate are morally obliged to improve the species.” A geneticist appeased one couple by explaining that embryo screening allows for the best of the two people—that it can do what a 1000 natural conceptions could never do. However, according to the article, in 2007, researchers at Cornell University actually created the world’s first genetically modified human embryo. This development means we have the ability to alter babies even beyond the best of two people. But what are the ethics of actually designing one’s own baby? One woman talked about yearning for a daughter after having two sons; she seriously considered screening. But, she changed her mind at the last minute because “it felt too much like I was playing God.”

There is a wonderful grace in being known by God and being made by God’s hand. While the awesomeness of such a feat—that God himself has created every person from all time across the globe—is beyond us, I believe it is true. Psalm 139:13 in the NLT reads, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.” One of our greatest human needs is to be known. Only God has the intimate knowledge of our innermost being. Despite our tampering, only God, the great designer and creator, can build babies.

The truth is we cannot possibly have the capacity to understand who, at the embryonic stage, might be the next Stephen Hawking or Jake Barnett (if you haven’t yet heard this name Google him). I applaud the Catholic Organizations for Life and Family which called for a ban on PGD (screening) saying that it “inherently disrespects the dignity and worth of human life, since it is performed in order to select the most genetically perfect embryos while discarding those that are deemed undesirable.” Who can know the mind of God? Thousands of years ago, Samuel being led by God arrived at the house of Jesse to scope out possible kings. Samuel, when he saw one of the young men, was immediately impressed by his stature and presence. God responded to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

No comments:

Post a Comment