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Biotech Science

Designer Babies 902

Posted by samzenpus
from the wings-and-a-nice-prehensile-tail dept.
Singularity Hub writes "The Fertility Institutes recently stunned the fertility community by being the first company to boldly offer couples the opportunity to screen their embryos not only for diseases and gender, but also for completely benign characteristics such as eye color, hair color, and complexion. The Fertility Institutes proudly claims this is just the tip of the iceberg, and plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Even as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life's savings for a custom baby, opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries. Like it or not, the era of designer babies is officially here and there is no going back."
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Designer Babies

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  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:14PM (#26991991)
    Just as we've found that the ecosphere is an uncontrollably complex system that defies simple cause/effect manipulation, we will learn the hard way that simply "inserting" a gene for blue eyes or increased hemoglobin production causes unexpected and undesirable spinoff effects.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:17PM (#26992019) Homepage Journal

    Who gives a shit what you or "society" thinks. I think it is retarded to allow people to call their children "Apple" or "Montana" but, thankfully, I don't have the right to control other people's choices. Freedom means putting up with shit you don't like.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:17PM (#26992025) Homepage Journal

    Although there certainly is a lot of "fashion" and "tradition" in choosing names, it's hardly the nightmare of uniformity that is predicted by those who oppose genetic choice. Sometimes it might appear that everyone is named Steve, but alas, it is not so.

    Nice straw man you got there.

    The truth is that names hardly matter that much compared to your child's physiology and anatomy. In some countries, it's not uncommon for parents to kill girls that are born to them because they cannot carry on the family name, so to speak.

     

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:18PM (#26992041)

    "Evolution treats artificial selection as a defect and routes around it"

    I'm guessing that it will turn out that blond hair, blue eyes and being cute goes hand in hand with some fatal evolutionary defect and that in 1000 years customer's bloodlines will be extinct.

    Just look at the genetic shape that some "pure" breeds of dogs are in. They would never survive in the wild.

  • by tsa (15680) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:18PM (#26992043) Homepage

    Even if it may be inhuman, unethical or whatever, people will want this. It's a new step in human evolution. There is a plus on the ethical side of this: many genetic diseases can hopefully be prevented.

  • Life savings? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:19PM (#26992049) Homepage Journal

    as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life's savings for a custom baby

    It saddens me to think that so many people are that shallow. It no longer surprises me that people would risk their financial stability to have a baby with a particular hair color. But it does still depress me.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:19PM (#26992059)

    They're not "inserting" a gene. They're screening out "candidate" babies that don't have it.

    I.e. there are lots of embryos, they pick the one that randomly got the characteristics they want and throw out the rest.

    However, there can still be unintended consequences. If people do this a lot and tend to make the same choices, the genetic diversity of the human race will be reduced, leading to greater susceptibility to widespread disease and genetic problems in the generations to come.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:22PM (#26992087)

    Ok, now it's happened. And as a society we lack the moral fiber to even say it is a bad idea. Forget making an actual judgemental moral decision and declaring it "immoral" or "wrong". We can't even agree it is a bad idea and will almost certainly have bad consequences.

    I find it odd that you're not only assuming it is wrong and bad, but you're saying questioning it at all is a sign that we're doomed. NOT questioning imposed morality and superstition is what will doom us (see the dark ages and crusades, and in fact most wars for proof.)

    I wouldn't take it as a given that their nightmare scenario will be all or nothing. We allowed abortion, we are now apperantly allowing this... I'm missing the links to generic big bad thing. Who says anything bad will come out of it? Besides you and them, that is.

    This isn't designer babies anyway. The fundies are still wrong.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:23PM (#26992091) Journal

    This doesn't seem much more controversial than an abortion. (which, depending on the country, could be considered controversial) How is this unethical?

    I consider myself a pretty die-hard pro-choicer but I'm extremely disturbed by the notion of aborting your embryo because it doesn't have the eye color you wanted.........

  • China and India (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:23PM (#26992095)

    They'll have a huge market in China and perhaps India. China has that history of euthanizing baby girls, so why waste the nine months if you can't get exactly what you want?

    Sorry, but this really freaks me. Now we're making a true commodity out of babies. In a way that actually cheapens them; they'll become mass-market items akin to cellphones, when we can pick and choose exactly what color, what "skin", we want them to have, what shape and size, what sort of CPU and accessories.

    Can you hear Darwin howling?

  • Re:Life savings? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cowlum1 (685203) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:26PM (#26992123)

    As some earlier posters have pointed out, this is a good opportunity for couples to diagnose and remove genetic diseases. Many families have known genetic ailments they would like eradicated.

    Hair colour and eye colour are often advantages/disadvantages in life. Shallow or not im sure most parents will simply do whats best for baby.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:27PM (#26992135) Journal

    Freedom means putting up with shit you don't like.

    Within reason. I don't have to put up with being raped. Society as a whole doesn't have to put up with embryos being aborted over hair/eye color if it deems it to be immoral. You really think this is going to fly?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:29PM (#26992151)

    I don't know who you were talking to, but I don't know any legitimate scientist in biology who didn't think this was going to happen by 2015.

    What people said was that for traits that people are most interested in doing this for - most commonly intelligence, attractiveness, and physical ability - it's basically impossible at this point (and will likely remain so for a decent while, considering how many loci people are finding in genome-wide screens). However, eye color and skin color are pretty straightforward, and it's silly to think that when it became technologically possible to perform genetic tests on early embryos (which was something that absolutely had to be developed, as it's basically the only way to avoid any number of horrific genetic diseases) that it wouldn't be used for these purposes as well.

    The bigger issue is, who cares? Eye color and hair color are completely superficial traits that mean nothing, and skin color (as evidenced by black males leading both major political parties) isn't anywhere near the issue it was 20 years ago. Sex choice is actually a bigger issue for non-American cultures, as you can wind up with the China situation of a very unbalanced population, but in developed countries (that would have the money to afford this kind of screening) I don't see the value of having a boy or a girl being dramatically different.

  • by the_humeister (922869) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:29PM (#26992153)

    You should elaborate as to why you think this is a bad idea.

    Personally I think it's a good idea. Being able to screen for genes that cause cystic fibrosis, Huntington disease, Alzheimer disease, trisomy 13/18/21, etc. would allow no one to suffer from such diseases anymore either through picking different embryos or repairing the diseased gene.

    It's certainly better than the crap-shoot that we have now for procreation.

  • by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:30PM (#26992167) Homepage

    Wait, making sure your kids have no future ailments or life threatening conditions/diseases is a.. bad> thing?

    Sorry, but I'm 100% in favor of non-cosmetic Eugenics. Maybe you'd feel the same if you knew someone with cancer, diabetes or countless other horrible conditions.

  • by Kingrames (858416) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:32PM (#26992201)
    People are not defined by their physical characteristics. Let the parents choose things like this. It may affect WHAT their child becomes but it won't affect WHO they become.
  • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:32PM (#26992207) Homepage
    Within reason. I don't have to put up with being raped. Society as a whole doesn't have to put up with embryos being aborted over hair/eye color if it deems it to be immoral. You really think this is going to fly?
    Why not? We allow abortions based on sex. And you clearly don't understand the technology here. It's not embryos being aborted, it's embryos not being implanted, much like current IVF technology that already exists.
  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:33PM (#26992227)

    If people do this a lot and tend to make the same choices, the genetic diversity of the human race will be reduced, leading to greater susceptibility to widespread disease and genetic problems in the generations to come.

    They're not choosing on the vast majority of the genes in the human genome. Your hair color, for example, doesn't really confer any selective advantage when it comes to resitance to infectious disease. Diversity, even among those superficial genes, also probably won't be lost. A lot of the genes people want to select for are already rare, if this catches on I'd expect red-headedness to increase dramatically (its at something like 1% right now). And there's going to be some auto-balancing anyway: if everyone wants to have blue-eyed blond-haired children you know what's going to suddenly be a lot more attractive to that generation? Brown eyes and brown hair. And they'll select that in their children.

    Sky: still not falling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:35PM (#26992237)

    Reducing the gene pool is bad for the longevity of the species. As the gene pool becomes more homogeneous the risk of a species exterminating disease increases, since the likelihood of a genetic mutation which can resist the new disease is diminished.

    Add in the fact that we know startlingly little about how genes really operate and you have the possibility of some serious unknown consequences.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:35PM (#26992239)

    >I consider myself a pretty die-hard pro-choicer but I'm extremely disturbed by the notion of aborting your embryo because it doesn't have the eye color you wanted.........

    This makes you a hypocritical bastard.

    Either there is nothing wrong with it, or there is something wrong with it.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:41PM (#26992317)
    Freedom means putting up with shit you don't like.

    Freedom to choose, without taking into account the generational implications, may mean stuff we ALL don't like. We just don't know it yet. And by the time we do know it, it may be too late.
    Let's take China's (old) policy of 1 child per family. Leads to a glut of boy children. We have no idea what implications that may bring in the next decade or 3. May lead to nothing, may lead to a world war.

    'Freedom' is one thing...stupid, selfish, misguided 'choices' that affect us all is quite another.

    hmmm....sounds like the climate change vs the anti climate change argument.
    Fuck you, I'm gonna build a coal plant and drive my Hummer. "freedom means putting up with shit you don't like"
  • by orielbean (936271) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:42PM (#26992327)
    Much like gay marriage, how does this hurt fundies? Oh, they are looking out for us poor technocratic souls? Moral fiber? We have developed science to save babies that would otherwise die, mothers that would otherwise die, and help children exist with significant defects that would have had them killed by the midwife only a hundred years ago. Moral fiber? Bad idea? I would be thrilled to know that my child could be born without my congential heart defect or a cleft palate! Shame on you for swallowing their reactionary tripe.
  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@G m a i l.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:43PM (#26992331) Homepage Journal

    Who gives a shit what you or "society" thinks. I think it is retarded to allow people to call their children "Apple" or "Montana" but, thankfully, I don't have the right to control other people's choices. Freedom means putting up with shit you don't like.

    There are limitations to freedom when it comes to other people. And babies are people. Even if it's your own child, you can't do anything you want to them. If you suddenly decided that your little girl would look nice in earings, fine, not many people will care if you get her ears pierced. If you suddenly decide that she would look better without ears, then you have a problem. The law doesn't allow for you to just go and cut them off.

    We're headed down a very tricky road here. These "designer baby" choices would be made before conception, but the consequences would last the life of the child, so we have some big issues to debate, not to mention those minor questions of when human life deserves protection and to what degree we should "play God".

  • by Walkingshark (711886) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:44PM (#26992355) Homepage

    I don't know, it sounds like a good idea to me. We can start with simple things like eye and hair color, and hopefully move on to eliminating the genetics that cause obesity, stupidity, and depression.

  • by Matteo522 (996602) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:46PM (#26992387)
    Are you sure people aren't defined [askmen.com] by [steveklotz.com] their [allamericanpatriots.com] physical [maxsquared.org] characteristics [photosfan.com]?
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:46PM (#26992391) Homepage Journal

    The problem with "genetic choice" is that we haven't been around long enough to know the purpose of all of our traits. If enough people were to, for example, not pass on the sicle cell trait who's to say that humanity won't be wiped out by a malaria epidemic? Of course, that's an outlandish scenario, but it's meant to raise a point not prove one. We just don't know why humanity comes in all of our different variations. It's a dangerous game to start removing traits artificially.

    LK

  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:50PM (#26992427)

    Sorry, but I'm 100% in favor of non-cosmetic Eugenics.

    This is NOT FUCKING EUGENICS. Eugenics is a horrifically offensive behavior and this is NOT IT. Eugenics is when I tell you that dark skinned people cannot have babies with light skinned people. Eugenics is when the German government told people that Jews could not have children with non-Jews.

    It is "the science of improving a breed or species through the careful selection of parents." In this case, the parents have already decided to have a child. Most likely, and preferentially, their decision was not based on a Eugenic agenda in their society. Quite simply, Eugenics occurs long before this company ever gets involved.

    I don't have a problem screening for diseases before a baby is even born. That is just merciful in my book to both the child and the parents. I am not a Christian, or believe in any God. So I don't buy into the argument that it goes against God somehow and therefore all procreation must be natural, since natural is God approved. As if they even know what God approves of from a book that is admittedly written by men.

    What this company does it closer to abortion. Please don't use the word "eugenics" since the only accepted definition of the word references a truly abhorrent behavior that should never be approved of, which is what you have done through your ignorance of the word.

  • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (esidarap.cram)> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:58PM (#26992521) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, but I'm 100% in favor of non-cosmetic Eugenics. Maybe you'd feel the same if you knew someone with cancer, diabetes or countless other horrible conditions.

    I /had/ cancer, and I"m still not sure that I'm in favor of it. The thought of the current relatively minor money-based class separation eventually becoming codified genetically (this service ain't gonna be cheap) is more than a little disturbing.

    You eventually end up with the descendants of the wealthy and middle class (yay consumer finance) who are guaranteed no major health problems, and the descendants of the poor who remain prone to the many diseases. These people are already at a disadvantage financially, now they become a heavy burden on a society since the only ones who actually get seriously ill.

    How many generations until the healthy class stops paying for them?

  • They're not choosing on the vast majority of the genes in the human genome. Your hair color, for example, doesn't really confer any selective advantage when it comes to resitance to infectious disease. Diversity, even among those superficial genes, also probably won't be lost

    Wait, do you have some insight into genetics that you've been holding out from the rest of the world? Or are you trying to say that because we have only found one purpose for a given gene means that there must only be one purpose?

  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:07PM (#26992637)

    People already screen your embryos and sperm for certain genetic markers. It's not eugenics, it's called "dating."

  • Are you catholic? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZmeiGorynych (1229722) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:12PM (#26992681)

    You shed god knows how many skin cells every day, how is _that_ different? Or do you believe contraception is murder because a sperm inside an egg cell is somehow a human being?

    Once a baby is actually _born_, I consider it a human being (though even then, Peter Singer makes a good argument that it's not really until it's self-aware, which is a couple of months later). Until birth, it's either a part of the mother's anatomy to do what she feels like (if it's implanted in the womb already) or just a thing in a glass if it's not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:16PM (#26992723)

    you're an idiot.

    aborted means to remove an embyro which has attached to the uterus wall and started to develop. You religious nuts always crack me up, trying to twist things around.

  • by Suicyco (88284) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:22PM (#26992781) Homepage

    Nobody is engineering these embryos. They are fertilized eggs that are then screen for traits, and only the ones wanted are implanted.

    There are no mucking with genes being done. Its a passive process. Make X many embryos, and scan them for various traits. Pick the ones you want. Simple, and non threatening to the species.

    Humans are not evolving anymore anyway, so what does it matter? We do not exist in a world of natural selection pressures.
     

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:29PM (#26992857)

    You know, if there's a better way to ensure that your kids won't be racist, I can't think of it...

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:33PM (#26992907)

    You can actually start fashioning humans for specific jobs rather than searching for them.

    "Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly color. I'm so glad I'm a Beta."

  • by Quothz (683368) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:35PM (#26992933) Journal

    Or are you for allowing school choice... even when it means fundies can skip teaching evolution and condoms?

    Or are you against using the power of the State to seize the resources of the successful to give to those who couldn't give enough of a shit to get an education?

    And you are of course against crap like the Fairness Doctrine, right?

    And are you against all gun control. at least anything less than crew served weapons or WMD, right?

    Hate Speech? That doesn't exist in your "Freedom is flying yer freak flag" world, right?

    Funnily enough, I'm in favor of school choice, against the Fairness Doctrine, against most gun control, and against hate speech control laws. I don't favor arbitrary property seizure, though. I note that the wording of your questions is highly loaded, attempting to resolve any debate through the framing of the questions. I choose not to address that issue further.

    I'm really not sure why you picked a handful of controversial topics to try to prove that many issues of freedom are simple and obvious. Merely because you feel strongly about these topics doesn't mean that all thoughtful, intelligent people agree.

    I don't have a problem with "designer babies", as this article calls 'em. While this company currently is talking about superficial choices like hair and eye color, perfecting the technology could well lead to generations of smarter, stronger, disease-resistant, congenital-defect free children.

    Further, I'm afraid that taking legislative control of children's genetics is more dangerous to the preservation of diversity than allowing free choice. Once the finger of legislation is in the pie, there's no taking it out again, and most long-standing governments have made eugenic policies at various points. I have no reason to believe that it will never happen again in nations which have rescinded such stances.

    I don't deny there's plenty of arguments on both sides - I was exposed to this debate many years ago in a biomedical ethics course in college. The actual practical application is bound to raise a bit of hubbub and maybe some new insight, but unless someone has a compelling new argument I'm unlikely to see this as a Bad Thing.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:46PM (#26993077) Homepage

    Shit, that kinda sounds like names are really important.

    This has to be Slashdot at it's finest.

    Pretending not to understand the difference between family name and given name to avoid acknowledging the point?

    Yes, that is /. at it's finest.

  • by princessproton (1362559) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:51PM (#26993121)

    I think the point was that he can't give you a good reason, but that doesn't mean that there isn't one. Our knowledge is limited and it may be prudent to keep from mass scale meddling until we understand better, but that's not a reason not to dig and innovate.

  • Go watch GATTACA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:53PM (#26993139)

    Go watch the movie GATTACA http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/ [imdb.com] The basic premise is in the not too distant future a company has come up with a way for parents to determine all of the genetic qualities of the baby so that when the baby is born it is already determined what it will become/do in it's life based upon it's DNA. Prior to birth they know if you'll be a physician or a garbage man. "Natural" babies, those with no genetic selection are unheard of. The plot is a "natural" born character tries to fool the system into thinking he's got the DNA to be an astronaut...

    Interesting concept.

  • by mcsporran (832624) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:59PM (#26993211)

    Humanity is still evolving, it is foolish to think we can stand outside of the evolutionary process. It just probably more subtle that examples we see in the wild.

    I would suggest that there has been a very strong selective pressure towards resistance to addictive substances. Think of what distilled alcohol did to almost every aboriginal culture who encountered it and think of what Methamphetamine does to someones appearance and ability to survive in the modern world

    Also as my ancestors survived the black death, it is possible that I have a greater resistance to contracting HIV, I could be even be immune, and my genes may of already saved me.

    Evolution is still with us now, and always will be with any beings that replicate with variation. It is just slow and subtle.

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:02AM (#26993257)
    I'm stunned to see so much unselfish, practical wisdom. Speaking as an adopted child, I have always held that it's how you raise children, not where they come from that matters. People are so egotistical about how important it is for their kids to be their biological product, even if it means knowingly putting those kids at risk. Some parents even seem to be proud of the defects they pass on, like blindness or deafness is 'special' in a positive way. (I'm not saying that such people should be ashamed. Traits are not things to be proud or ashamed of. Only actions can be rationally appreciated or denounced.)
  • by Miseph (979059) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:02AM (#26993259) Journal

    Fun fact, most people wind up with jobs that are neither terribly glamorous nor pay 6 figures. Police sergeant is actually pretty respectable to those who don't blindly hate cops.

  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:08AM (#26993317)

    One only has to look at what breeders have done to pure breed dogs over the years to know this is a horrendously bad idea.

  • by osgeek (239988) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:08AM (#26993333) Homepage Journal

    Eugenics got a bad rap because of the fascist nature of the Nazis. From Wikipedia: The word eugenics derives from the Greek word eu (good or well) and the suffix -genÄ"s (born), and was coined by Sir Francis Galton in 1883, who defined it as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations"

    Taking control of our own genetic future is the only way we'll evolve the human race without also needing the severe stress of massive population reducing mechanisms like war, disease, asteroid, etc.

    Besides benignly selecting for better traits in our own embryo sets, I'm hoping that we can eventually genetically change ourselves in place with retro-viruses or something similar.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:12AM (#26993373)

    >NO. It is not.

    >Eugenics is about controlling which sperm has the legal/moral rights to fertilize which embryos. All of your examples reference such acts.

    Soo.... you are saying that eugenics is _only_ determining how an egg gets fertilized?

    Therefore, if I went and aborted ALL jewish and black babies, that is not eugenics, because they got their eggs fertilized without interference.

    And if I selectively choose which white baby to have, and abort the rest, that is not eugenics. (In the eyes of most people, destroying a fertilized egg is abortion)

    This is specifically getting rid of babies that dont meet certain genetic criteria. It is the precise definition of eugenics. Racism is a seperate issue.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:13AM (#26993381) Journal
    Humans are not evolving anymore anyway, so what does it matter? We do not exist in a world of natural selection pressures.

    Granted, we have taken a lot of the natural selection process out of the equation, and substituted a lot of artificial selection, but rest assured, we are still evolving.
  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:25AM (#26993505)

    Granted, we have taken a lot of the natural selection process out of the equation, and substituted a lot of artificial selection, but rest assured, we are still evolving.

    Just under the wrong criteria.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:41AM (#26993627)

    But, do you blame the breeders or the dog shows? I know some working class breeders have fought AKC recognition knowing that over time they'd end up with very pretty but very incompetent training stock.

    If dog shows for working breeds were performance-based, you'd have breeders working towards the betterment of the breed rather than appearance.

    I bought a husky about 10 years ago from a breeder who was a recently retired sled dog racer. Ten years later I went back to her for another puppy and her dogs were very pretty, but not at all trained or bred for racing.

  • by phanboy_iv (1006659) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:59AM (#26993763)
    Nope. It just avoids the deeper, more serious issue of a culture that is alright with killing people because they're female. The problem isn't that females are being born to these people, the problem is that they are willing to kill them because of that.
  • Re:China and India (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:04AM (#26993801)

    Who flagged this as insightful?

    If you don't want to "cheapen" your baby and make one the old-fashioned way, do it. If I want a redhead with green eyes, I'll do it. Who gives a shit? Suddenly having choice in something that used to be arbitrary is somehow bad now? Should we actually get to that level of customization it'll be an epoch of sorts and we'll either get through it or something will go terribly wrong. Life and the universe will go on.

    25,000 years from now there's bound to be a severe paradigm shift (and probably many). People who fear this sort of thing are just afraid of change. Nothing's stopping anyone from getting a random hand dealt to them with a new child. I'd prefer, however, to weed out a ton of bad genetics. Is it really so terrible for me to want to not have to play the odds for having a son or daughter with the same leg deformities I have or the same crooked teeth or poor eyesight?

    And who said Darwin cared? You say that almost religiously, which I think is hilarious.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:13AM (#26993859)

    You sound a little bit confused, perhaps you should take a biology class or three? The zygote/embryo/fetus/infant/adult/old-fart is a complete, living, genetically-unique, human organism. Skin cells, on the other hand, are not living individuals (human or any other kind.) Neither is a strand of hair, a nail clipping, or a sperm or an egg, by itself. However when a sperm fertilizes an egg, at that precise moment, a new human organism comes into existence. You can use whatever justification you like to say that it isn't a "person" or deserving of "legal rights" or whatever your argument is, but please, drop the bogus biology. Misinformation and faulty science doesn't help your cause.

    Misrepresenting the views of your opponents doesn't further your argument either. It is true that Catholics believe that unjustly (according to their standards) terminating the life of a human organism is murderous. They do not, however, believe that the use of artificial contraceptives constitutes murder. They oppose contraception for other reasons, but do not call it murderous.

  • The 99% Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:23AM (#26993921)

    The problem isn't that females are being born to these people, the problem is that they are willing to kill them because of that.

    After an entire generation of all males I think the stigma against females will evaporate rather rapidly. Let people do what they really want long enough and they'll figure out when ideas are bad or simply unfeasable.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:56AM (#26994145)
    we have no idea when consciousness begins

    But we certainly know when it hasn't. For example: when there's no nervous system it's safe say there's no conciousness. A fertalized egg, or even a clump of 100 cells, doesn't have the wiring for consciousness. There's no there there.
  • by Maelwryth (982896) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @03:01AM (#26994553)
    Once a baby is actually _born_, I consider it a human being (though even then, Peter Singer makes a good argument that it's not really until it's self-aware, which is a couple of months later).
    I used to take the same position......right up until I saw a baby born (and watched her grow) who was going to be aborted (pre three months). They are children, "potential children". That being said, I have no problem with abortions. I don't have a problem with eating meat either. I do have a problem with people trying to avoid responsibility for what they do by pretending it isn't what it is. If you kill a fetus, you have killed the potentiality of a child. Don't mess around and try and justify it, that is what you are doing. If you eat lamb, it was a baby animal. Same thing in my eyes. People should stop justifying what they do and just take responsibility. If there is no god, then there is no absolute morality. It is your choice.

    Don't feel I am trying to attack your views in this. From the tone of your posting I would say your opinions are exceedingly close to mine with a few exceptions. If anything, I just hold the potential as more important than you because I watched it manifest once.
  • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:30AM (#26995045) Homepage

    But retards like yourself aren't even a necessary evil. They are entirely unnecessary, but sadly, quite common.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:39AM (#26995089)

    > imagine people were saying similar things when racial discrimination laws were passed.

    They happened to be wrong. Not saying there aren't actually some variation between the races but any differences in the averages appear to be safely inside the deviation bars.

    > Do you think we ought to throw those laws out as they'll never work and blacks will always be discriminated against?

    Actually..... yes we should dump those laws because they can't work. Racial discrimination isn't much of a problem anymore because people changed, not because some asshole in Washington passed a law.

    Racial discrimination ended because it was a false outdated notion we are quickly discarding that was totally incompatible with "All men are created equal..." Progress doesn't happen all at once, it just took a little while after those words were set down for society to catch up to all of the implications. And while everyone isn't exactly 'equal' we are close enough that the concept of equality before the law makes so sense it could form the basis of the most successful nation in human history. Throw in a bunch of genetic supermen and some custom designed semi sentient drones into the population and those ideas are null and void. Discrimination DOES make sense because people won't even be close to equal anymore. When the dumbest superman is smarter than Hawking, wiser than Mark Twain and will likely still have the body of a Greek God when he is a hundred years old the question of whether us mundanes should even be allowed to vote is a valid one. We probably won't like their answer.

    My argument is that we really should think through the consequences of genetic engineering before we do it instead of rushing into it and having to figure it out after a few bloody wars. What guiding principle replaces "All men are created equal" is something we should have worked though before we make everyone unequal. What rights do created beings have? Does it depend on whether their mental functions have been altered? How?

    > You seem so sure that it will end with complete dehumanization.

    Because tech is always changing. Human nature doesn't. At least not yet.

  • by Chatterton (228704) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:44AM (#26995429) Homepage
    In some way dog breeding and embryo screening are the same. The embryo screening being just faster at removing what we consider bad things/bad genes. But what is now considered a bad things could be the thing that will save your live or the live of your descendant later...
  • by Meneth (872868) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:07AM (#26995545)
    "Well, Jayne ain't a girl."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @08:14AM (#26996279)

    Evolution doesn't work like that! It doesn't have foresight, "saving up" bad traits for when they might become useful. If a bad trait is bad enough it's selected against, unless there's no worthwhile way to get rid of it, and if that leads to an unfortunate loss of diversity then too bad.

    It's possible that a population of bacteria that evolved a more stable genome, with no "unlucky" mutations, would run into trouble and get wiped out completely when the field flipped. But 100K years is an incredibly long time to bacteria and if the stable genome was a big advantage to a bacterium, the unstable kind would probably be completely wiped out in the intervening millenia anyway. I think this is just a case of the unlucky mutation happening rarely enough that for a bacterium, building a new and more stable means of replicating the genome just isn't worth the cost, so they never evolved one.

    The practical upshot of what I'm saying is that I suspect that if the Earth's magnetic field didn't ever flip, biologists would still have observed bacteria with the occasional unlucky mutation that made them go the wrong way. I don't see a plausible means of cause and effect given the timescales.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:13AM (#26996743) Homepage Journal

    The real key issues will be...

    I don't want a gay baby. Now I haven't bought into the whole being gay is genetic. However should it be proven otherwise how long before the more radical groups affiliated with gays decide it is offensive or an affront to their rights to have this gene designed out of offspring? I have always been under the impression that if it could be determined to be genetic and then detected that it would turn the whole issue of abortion on its head. Look, we have already seen societies who have no qualms about aborting female babies so it is not a stretch that if being gay is offensive to some that these people could choose to abort simply because of that trait. Throw in other issues like known birth defects and it really becomes messy because we already have groups that protest that and I am not just pointing towards fundies. Look, during the last election we had people openly question the Palin's choice to have a child they knew had down's syndrome. Some of the reactions were downright hostile.

    So now we have the idea of designer babies gaining more traction. Well the flipside is being able to determine when a baby already conceived has traits the parents don't want and in some societies society doesn't want. That is when the real moral issues come about.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:19AM (#26997431) Journal

    Ironically, those very same people who often chose abortion for convenience are the same people who will choose nanny state socialism (Democrats). If you cant understand the irony, it would just take too long to explain.

    I do love that irony. Apparently the individual can be trusted to decide when to terminate a pregnancy but they can't be trusted to wear a seatbelt without laws mandating that they do so, handle a firearm safely, or decide what types of food/chemicals they want to ingest.

  • by ProfessionalCookie (673314) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:30AM (#26997599) Journal
    Get off the fence? "Choice" is choice. Why does it matter to you why someone chooses. If there's only a few righteous reasons to abort and embryo you probably ought to consider why the unrighteous reasons are unrighteous.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:41AM (#26997745)

    Tiffani would be fine... until she dotted her precious 'i' with a heart, then it's all over.

    Seriously though, my real first name is Billy-Jo. Redneck sounding, isn't it? When I was a teenager one of my girlfriends' mom used to call me Billy-Jo-Jim-Bob-John-Boy, and when she was miffed with me expanded it to William-Joseph-James-Robert-Johnathan-Manchild (I love that last bit).

    Now, even though I've taken some flack for the name, the absolute worst of it is putting my name into forms that will be later entered into a computer. It's a bit better now, but you'd be amazed at how often something as simple as a hyphen can throw off a name database. Most often they just add Jo as a middle name, but I've been called Billyjo Billy'jo and (more often now) Billy-jo, which is almost right, but the capitalization error is obnoxious and (if the product of automated case conversion (and it is)) just plain bad coding.

    All in all though, I LIKED having a semi-uncommon name (though Bill, my usual moniker, is normal enough), so I went with unusual (in the modern day) names for my kids, but avoided the hyphenation problem.

    I'll have them come back and let you all know how the names Solomon, Aleistar and Tobin work out... in a decade or so.

  • by neomunk (913773) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:51AM (#26997895)

    cayenne brings up a good point. Maybe he was trolling *shrug*, but as of this moment the post is marked troll. What you mods (and the people who agree with a troll mod) need to realize is, whether he was serious or being sarcastic you're REALLY going to be hearing that conversation, in real life, coming from people you know and love, and they're going to be discussing serious real-life options in a serious mindset.

    Brace yourself folks, this one is going to be a trollercoaster on par with Roe vs. Wade, the civil rights movement and invading Iraq. Opinions will be firm, worded strongly and civility will suffer.

  • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:05AM (#26998129) Homepage Journal

    While I would generally agree with your point, there is a flaw.

    You're assuming that the gene removed would be passed on. If the gene we're preventing from being born is one that causes death or severe mental retardation, then it's more about having a baby that won't suffer/be crippled. Why give birth to one that wouldn't be able to reproduce anyway because it's dead in a few years or too retarded for romantic interest.

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:29AM (#26998471) Homepage Journal

    I'll bite.

    When is a thing more than a thing? Can I put you in a glass jar and consider you a thing? How about if I get enough people to agree with me that as you're stuck in a jar right now and can't participate in society... you're nothing more than a sac of water filled flesh? Sure if we let you out you might do something interesting but that's in the future and we're talking about right now. How do we know you'd turn into a human when we let you out? Are you even self-aware inside that jar... we can't hear you talking (it's cute how she moves her mouth like that as if she's talking) and all those convulsions you're making could just be automatic responses.

    I'm not saying abortion is wrong, I'm just saying your logic is flawed and your self-deception is transparent. Abortion is stopping a process that would otherwise (in a typical scenario) end in a fully aware human being. That is a fact. If you want to delude yourself into thinking otherwise fine, just be 'self-aware' enough to know that it's just an excuse.

    Abort a pregnancy because you are not prepared to raise the child. Abort because the child will be treated poorly by society... pick a reason, you'll need to live with it.

    BTW I think contraception is definitely the way to go. Tens of thousands of eggs and billions of sperm are there explicitly to be lost to biology's natural processes. Contraception does nothing more than put those processes on a different schedule or manage how they express (ie: re-absorbed by the body).

  • by gillbates (106458) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:04PM (#26998935) Homepage Journal

    Freedom means putting up with shit you don't like.

    Which is exactly what this clinic is promising to do away with. Come to them, and you won't have to deal with anything you wouldn't like to see in your children.

    I'm wondering how many of those who flock to this clinic are asking for a homosexual child.

    I'm wondering how many are seeking children of a certain ethnicity or skin color.

    I'm wondering how many are seeking children of a certain sex.

    The list goes on, but basically what this whole thing is about is reintroducing the racist, sexist, homophobic tendencies of society under the guise of progress. The Nazis tried this in the 1930's with their eugenics programs, and it ultimately led to someone concluding that Jews weren't fit to live. We all know how well that worked out, and I think this is even more sinister. The problem with "designer babies" is that by removing the perceived imperfections from a majority of the society, as a society, we never learn what it feels like to be marginalized, oppressed, disadvantaged, etc... The grand consequence of this is a general loss of compassion and inability to empathize with the less fortunate. Which in turns leads to a greater separation between the haves and have nots, and paves the way for tyranny.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:23PM (#26999219)

    There's a difference between infanticide (i.e. killing someone) vs. designer babies (i.e. preventing a hypothetical person from existing).

    Actually, there's no difference at all. Do you know how 'designer baby' selection is performed? The first clew is the word 'selection': they select only those embryos which have the desired characteristics. Those embryos which are not selected are destroyed.

    So what is an embryo? Well, it's a very young person. So 'designer babies' are exactly killing someone.

    Abstaining from sex is something altogether different, as would selecting sperm and eggs for desirable characteristics.

  • by qubezz (520511) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:20PM (#27000073)

    Thank you, o lone sane voice...The non-viable fetuses you had to terminate are more likely due to bad luck and environmental factors than due to the genetics of the rugrats-to-be (and we have a lot more toxic environmental factors now then ever before). Miscarriages can often happen from the smallest chemical imbalances during the first week or two after fertilization that may affect the development - we've perhaps even evolved the 'miscarriage' gene because it is evolutionarily costly to deliver young'uns who won't make it to reproduction age. However, you do raise a good point.

    The problem is that in modern times we can't apparently let an infant die, no matter how hideously deformed or mis-developed (since 'belief' still trumps 'logic' it seems). If you don't let the surgeon put the heart back in the body and put the misfit in an incubator, you go to jail. The solution is to 'pick a good egg'.

    Consider two parents who both have the recessive gene for cystic fibrosis. Is it wrong to select an embryo that doesn't have cystic fibrosis (25% chance of a child getting the disease), or even ensure that the child won't be a carrier (50% chance the child won't be affected, but will carry the recessive gene). This is not genetic engineering, this is removing a mutation that has the distinction of being recessive, so it can continue through the generations to destroy lives. I had two elementary schoolmates, brother and sister, both with cystic fibrosis (the parents won the lottery with a 1 in 16 chance both would get it). They are both dead now, but at least they sure did suffer.

    Now if you could cull a crop of eggs from your own seed, and pick the unlikely match-up that didn't have bad vision, wicked crooked teeth, asthma, predisposition to depression, addiction, or murder, or maybe even mental retardation, why not? Maybe even pick the pretty one. I wouldn't mind being made of better genetic stuff. Natural selection doesn't work anymore, since we can't leave the bad ones behind when the tribe moves on (and the 'most fit' are the ones who aren't reproducing).

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:25PM (#27000151)
    if you meet a coder who tells you her name is "Tiffani with an 'i'!", how much are you going to want her on your project?

    That depends... how large are her breasts?

  • by Linktoreality (1487087) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @02:34PM (#27001309)
    A fetus is not a living thing until it meets all the criteria of a living organism, first and foremost of which is "Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Definitions [wikipedia.org] Until a fetus can survive on it's own outside of the mother's body, it is not alive.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:49PM (#27003363) Homepage Journal

    Your brother is wrong. What happens(or has happened historically) is that you ahve a bunch of angry young men that need an outlet; which means war. Either internally, if the government see this, then it will be an external war.

    They'll still treat women like dirt. It takes an open atmosphere to voice opinion to change that.

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