Skip to comments.'Embryo Bank' Stirs Ethics Fears (Clients Pick Among Fertilized Eggs)
Posted on 01/06/2007 6:04:54 PM PST by TigerLikesRooster
'Embryo Bank' Stirs Ethics Fears
Firm Lets Clients Pick Among Fertilized Eggs
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 6, 2007; A01
A Texas company has started producing batches of ready-made embryos that single women and infertile couples can order after reviewing detailed information about the race, education, appearance, personality and other characteristics of the egg and sperm donors.
The Abraham Center of Life LLC of San Antonio, the first commercial dealer making embryos in advance for unspecified recipients, was created to help make it easier and more affordable for clients to have babies that match their preferences, according to its founder.
"We're just trying to help people have babies," said Jennalee Ryan, who arranged for an egg donor to start medical treatments to produce a second batch of embryos this week. "For me, that's what this is all about: helping make babies."
But the embryo brokerage, which calls itself "the world's first human embryo bank," raises alarm among some fertility experts and bioethicists, who say the service marks another disturbing step toward commercialization of human reproduction and "designer babies."
"We're increasingly treating children like commodities," said Mark A. Rothstein, a bioethicist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. "It's like you're ordering a computer from Dell: You give them the specs, and they put it in the mail. I don't think we should consider mail-order computers and other products the same way we consider children."
Prospective parents have long been able to select egg or sperm donors based on ethnicity, education and other traits. Couples can also "adopt" embryos left over at fertility clinics, or have embryos created for them if they need both eggs and sperm. But the new service marks the first time anyone has started turning out embryos as off-the-shelf products.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
You ain't seen anything yet. Just imagine, a few generations down the road when we will not only have read and understood the genome, but will be in a position to re-write it and even to write one de novo. Then one would be dialing up healthy athletic geniuses, and nothing else.
Like the old "Little Tavern " hamburger joints. "Buy 'em by the bag".
Gee, I can make some mad money. Cool. Who knew?
Designer babies. The ultimate in selfishness.
The reason they use the quotes around the word "adopt" is because the actual legal transaction involved, under our legal system's current treatment of an embryo, is a purchase and sale of personal property.
Treatment of human lives as chattel or livestock did not end with the civil war, and was reintroduced to America in 1973.
Doesn't the congresswoman from Huston, that wanted to know if the mars lander could go over and see the lunar lander have a law degree.????
So I guess this process guarantees an IQ of at least 95. LOL
Well, you just can't have *too* many babies, right?
And Sheila Jackson Lee is a potential sperm donor? Who knew?
with a few dummies thrown into the mix- gotta have someone to blame when something goes wrong- lol http://sacredscoop.com
There are three sides to eugenics. Good, bad, and bizarre.
An example of good eugenics has to be put down to just plain luck. It happened in one of the idealistic communes of northern European immigrants in New York State in the 19th Century. Though they believed in strong families, procreation was based solely on the judgment of the leader. A woman was strong and a man was smart, so they were ordered to make a baby, that would then be raised by her and her husband. In three generations, this commune produced some 60 or so national leaders in many fields. But had it continued another generation, it would have genetically collapsed because of inbreeding.
A bad result of Eugenics is already happening with smart people. Tending to marry each other, we have now discovered to our horror that the children of two smart people are often autistic. Far more than for the rest of the population.
A bizarre case of what Eugenics might be came with a poll that went into far more detail about what typical parents might want if their child could be engineered to their specifications. At first, they responded typically with "smart", "pretty", and "athletic". However, with more and more questions, people started to admit that they would really like their children to have more 'feline' and 'canine' qualities. People seem to get along better with their pets than each other, so these people figured that if their children were more like cats or dogs, then everyone would like them.
Eugenics up to now [and for a while in the future] has been/will be conducted with a sledgehammer. Really interesting stuff could become possible in 100-200 years, when we will be rewriting genomes in minute detail.
The article said that the filter for lawyers and PHD's was for sperm, not eggs.
A few more things like this and the "good old USA" will be even more deserving of a nuclear holocaust.
An utterly appalling abomination.
Have you got a reference/link/whatever for that? That's the first time I've seen that assertion. Thanks!
That very odd. Do you have a link for that?
I dont really have a problem with a world where everyone is smart, talented, and healthy.
WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- There was something similarly strange about the children who caught Leo Kanner's attention starting in 1938. He called their behavior "autistic."
There also was something strangely similar about the families they came from.
"There is one other very interesting common denominator in the backgrounds of these children. They all come of highly intelligent families," child psychiatrist Kanner wrote at the end of his historic study of 11 children, published in 1943.
He ticked off the fathers' occupations: four psychiatrists, one "brilliant lawyer," one chemist and law school graduate, one plant pathologist, one professor of forestry, one ad copywriter with a law degree, one mining engineer and one businessman.
"All but three of the families," Kanner wrote, "are represented either in 'Who's Who in America' or in 'American Men of Science,' or both."
Among the first 100 cases Kanner saw, he reported they "almost invariably came from intelligent and sophisticated stock." Of the 100 fathers, 96 were high school grads and, of those, 74 were college grads -- almost twice today's percentage...
I did have a link for the other guy, but I'm afraid the poll I mentioned is beyond Googling, and I don't remember much about it other than it was done in England in the past few years.
Oh, great. So many members of Congress and state legislatures who started out their careers as attorneys are eligible.
Clintons? Oh, no!
But did she, are did she not, graduate from a law school????
Ya, from Ted Kennedy's law school.
Even one baby is too many babies, if you're treating them like products, property, chattel.
The most obvious problem is that IVF "begets" or produces more offspring than will be implanted in your womb. That results in two really inhuman options: (1) killing your "surplus" offspring (or storing them in frozen form until they deteriorate and are ultimately dumped); or (2) using the embryo as a human experimental subject, without any of the safeguards essential to its moral status as a nascent human being.
The third problem is that the entire process of ovum extraction, sperm collection, in vitro fertilization, and so forth, has already reduced human procreation to an laboratory procedure resulting in a product who/which is a commodity in commercial transaction.
The entire distinction between a human being, a lab animal, and a bit of biological property is in smithereens.
So we (Americans) are right back where we were at the time of the Dred Scott decision of 1857, with the law unable to distinguish between a human being and a piece of property. Except at a potentially worse degree of complexity, since the human genome can now be altered through the introduction of heterologous genes, and the embryo manipulated into forms of abnormal development, so that distinguishing between "human" and "not-human" becomes almost impossible.
When Aldous Huxley wrote "Brave New World," he assumed --- didn't he? --- that people would want to prevent this from happening. There must be somebody out there who is thinking strategically about how to stop this whole race to total depersonalization. I think it should be done.
Ironically, for those folks, babies is the only thing you CAN have too much of! ;o)
Crap Grammar alert!! LOL!
Correction: Ironically, babies ARE the only things of which you can have too many!
Demographics are always tricky to decipher, and it is easy to make too much of too little, but at some point all sorts of families began having autistic kids, and that ominous pattern may well be visible in the first 100 cases.
The latest research (not from 1938) that I've seen on the causes of autism seems to show at least one link to older fathers.
Nothing is terribly clear in complex genetics. For example a predisposition to autism that doesn't manifest as autism may tend to make people very intelligent.
There may be an environmental window for an outside factor to occur to activate autism; if the child makes it past that window, they are no longer susceptible.
I agree that parental age may be a factor, but is it age, or is it something else the parents "picked up" along the way, like smoking, drinking, diet, etc., that had a cumulative effect.
And yet, in practical terms, intelligent people may well be statistically more likely to have autistic children.
But as with another recent discovery, Fragile X Syndrome, it might be very obvious or very subtle.
I remember reading an article in a Howard County (MD) newspaper in which the author was trying to figure out why Howard County had one of the worst rates of child abuse in the USA. Howard County is home to a high percentage of wealthy and very well-educated people, and is where one of the earliest and best of the "planned communities," Columbia MD, is located.
The upshot was that intensely wanted and meticulously planned children tend to be very much the vehicles of their parents' egos. They are expected to be irresistably cute, invariably emotionally rewarding, hyper-bright, high-achieving from the earliest age, etc. And when they "fall short" in any way --- when they cry a lot as babies or have a persistent rash, or dribble fudge sauce on the white-and-gold brocade sofa, or fail to be interested in the Teach-Your-Toddler-Japanese tapes, etc. --- the parents tend to either get terribly frustrated and angry, or they detach emotionally and lose interest in the child altogether.
Kids who are the result of expensive laboratory procedures, will be under enormous pressure to repay the investment in many ways. Their parents have expections related to their childrens' status as products, rather than as persons.
There's more than a whiff of the inhuman in the genetically engineered, ubermensch dream.
It is inevitable - true. Whether it will be good or not, will depend on how it will be done. If done by ignoramuses and illiterates, then there are good chances it will be done poorly. Accumulation of necessary knowledge could be expected to take several generations.
Hydrogen dirigibles were the "wave of the future" until the Hindenburg disaster. A large and well-publicized human-genetic-engineering horror could take elaborate artificial-reproduction and human genetic engineering off the agenda for centuries.
One can hope.
Death and taxes may be inevitable, but evolutionary selection for high IQ is not inevitable at all; and neither is the prospect of some elite group of humans seizing control of the evolutionary direction of humanity.
Possible, yes. Inevitable, no.
This is sinful beyond belief. I am shocked and appalled. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. I hope the Texans outlaw this firm and shut them down. Or force the company to raise every one of the "embryos" to adulthood - including paying for their collegte.
What a unique notion, creating a market for human beings.
Did you all see the movie "Gataka"? Great movie, relates to this subject, thought-provoking - go rent it.
Also, I want to know way Americans are not being allowed to see the movie Children of Men, based on PD James' novel of that name. It was released in Europe when I was there in October, and was still playing when I was there in Dec. It was supposed to have a general release here on Christmas Day. But it disappeared, and was released in only 3 US theatres that day.
Not wanting to tighten the tinfoil too much, but an interesting thing is that Tom Cruise bought a major share in United Artists a few months ago, and I would suspect that is why it has not been released here. It's anti-euthanasia and, unspokenly, anti-abortion, and Scientology is totally pro-death.
(Wait for it)---
Intelligent Design. :o)
In the movie "A.I." - a company pioneers the development of robotic children capable of feeling and expressing true love, as an alternative for people unable to qualify for biological children under a population-control regimen. The robot children are perfect in every way - dutiful, obedient, loving children who never grow up.
In the epilogue of the film, the population-control regimen was too successful, and the robot children were too marketable, and the human race has gone extinct, leaving the descendants of the feeling robots searching for ancient clues to the nature of their human creators.
Given the demographics of reproductive rates, it seems that western civilization is headed down the same road, but without the solace of robotic heirs who care that our civilization ever existed.
A far greater possibility is the creation of several species of "homo superior", of several varieties with a multitude of variables.
This creates what could be called "Darwin's dilemma". When two similar species are in competition for a wide variety of things, the one that is distinctly superior will prevail and the other will become extinct. This holds true even in the social Darwinism of humanity. Primitive peoples just cannot coexist with modern peoples without either socially evolving or dying out.
For this reason, higher animal species intentionally destroy their own offspring that evidence superior or even significantly different characteristics from the norm. Humans, likewise, are very conscious of children born with abnormalities, and seek to "correct" them--or kill the children, in many circumstances.
But were we to intentionally make "homo superior", in the plural, that was, in fact, superior to ordinary people, we would, as a species, be in danger of dying out. Not because we were exterminated by the better ones, but just because we "gave up", not being able to compete with them and win.
Initially, we would try modifying "deficiencies" from our genetic code, doing things like eliminating hemophilia from families that suffer from the genetic disease.
Next, we would try replacing known-to-be inferior blocks of genetic code. This could be anything from congenital blindness to a high preponderance of breast cancer in females.
Then would come blocks of genetic code with less desirable traits, much more along the lines of vanity. This would be to change the features of offspring, such as appearance, height, weight, intelligence, athleticism, etc.
Intermediary to this is a tremendous problem: the genetic definition of a human being. Since humans share 96% of their genetic code with chimpanzees, for example, what do you call a being that shares 98% of its genetic code with humans? Is it a chimpanzee that looks and acts like a human, or a human that looks and acts like a chimpanzee?
People and corporations can legally patent a chimpanzee with an unusual genetic code. It has no civil rights, and can be abused and killed without legal recourse. Intelligence is far to ill-defined to use it as a discriminator, and appearance means nothing.
So once this problem has been hashed out, comes the next stage in genetic manipulation: giving people characteristics that make them superior in some way to ordinary people. These to not even have to be animal characteristics, as the DNA might be provided by plants or even bacteria.
These are your first generation "homo superior", and a distinct threat to the human species.
But that is not all. The second generation comes into existence when DNA is constructed with traits that do not exist in nature. These would be based on computer models, which would then be added to human DNA.
The end result might be so many intelligent species in theoretical competition with each other that all would be forced to specialize, to occupy different biological niches not in direct competition any more. To effectively divide the human species into several new species, each of which would have their own prerogatives.
Last but not least would be creating people with far more chromosomes than the human 23 pairs. The purpose of this would be so that they could voluntarily change their "active" genetic code, and modify themselves into a different creature, over the course of several years. That is, doing something as radical as a cat growing into a rabbit.
There are some really staggering possibilities here, and right now we can only speculate what the future holds. However, advancement in all of these directions continues, so all too soon, which doors are open to us, and which are impossible, will make themselves known.