The Instigator
Flyaway625
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
CaptainTrips
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

The production of designer babies does more harm than good.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/24/2007 Category: Health
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,083 times Debate No: 977
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

Flyaway625

Pro

In the mid-1990s, embryologist Jacques Cohen pioneered a promising new technique for helping infertile women have children. His technique, known as cytoplasmic transfer, was intended to "rescue" the eggs of infertile women who had undergone repeated, unsuccessful attempts at in vitro fertilization, or IVF. It involved injecting the cytoplasm found inside the eggs of a fertile donor, into the patient's eggs.
When the first baby conceived through cytoplasmic transfer was born in 1997, the press instantly hailed Cohen's technique as yet another technological miracle. But four years later, the real story has proven somewhat more complicated. Last year, Cohen and his colleagues at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St. Barnabas, a New Jersey fertility clinic, set off alarm bells among bioethicists with the publication of a paper detailing the genetic condition of two the 17 cytoplasmic-transfer babies born through the clinic to date. The embryologists reported that they had endowed the children with extra bits of a special type of genetic material, known as mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, which came with the cytoplasm transferred from the donor eggs to the patient's.
That meant the resulting children had three genetic parents: mother, father, and mtDNA donor. It also meant that female children would transmit their unorthodox combination of mitochondrial DNA to their own offspring (mtDNA is passed down only through eggs), with unknown implications. In effect, Cohen had created the first bioengineered babies. As Cohen's group noted, their experiment was "The first case of human [inheritable] genetic modification resulting in normal, healthy children."

Just how normal those children will turn out to be is anybody's guess. At a recent meeting in Europe, the New Jersey researchers reported that one of the children conceived through cytoplasmic transfer has been diagnosed with "pervasive developmental disorder," a catch-all term for symptoms that range from mild delays in speech to autism. Cohen's group maintained that it is extremely unlikely that cytoplasmic transfer and the resulting mishmash of mtDNA is to blame.
But geneticists have only begun to trace the connections between mtDNA and a host of diseases ranging from strange metabolic ailments to diabetes and Lou Gehrig's disease, and some experts argued that the child's disorder may well be caused by a mismatch between the donor and mother's mtDNA. As Jim Cummins, a molecular biologist at Murdoch University in Western Australia put it: "To deliberately create individuals with multiple mitochondrial genotypes without knowing the consequences is really a step into the dark."
CaptainTrips

Con

First of all, let me say thank you for posting such an interesting topic. However, I feel that your basic premise actually contradicts the proposition itself. You state that so called "designer babies"(a journalist term, not scientific", does more bad than good, and then proceed to lay out how new the technology is and how the conclusions that arise from it are murky at best.

So my FIRST point would be that the proposition is inherently flawed because we do not know enough about the technology to give it any sort of label, but rather we speculate about what might happen in the future. All new technology looks a bit horrid in it's earliest stages but takes drastic leaps of improvement over time. Arguing against this sort of technology now would be like arguing that cars are deathtraps back when they were metal and had no seatbelts.

Second, the idea that rerearing a child that may have a disformity being unethical seems suspect to me as well. It is possible that this technology has unforeseen side effects, but let's remember, their intention was not to cause harm. Two parents can have children and know they are at high risk to give it certain birth defects, and yet they do it anyway. For instance, a lesbian couple in the news a while back selected sperm from a donor they knew was deaf to have a deaf child who would better identify with the both of them. This is simply sexual selection, people pick out mates all the time based on features not only that they would like, but only features they would like their children to possess.

Also, we have screening technology now that can warn parents if their child will be disabled when born. This raises two issues: Does everyone parent have the ethical MANDATE to abort a fetus early on to prevent this suffering? And second, are the parents unethical for doing this? You are saying it's wrong to engineer a baby because of possible side effects but this is what the reproductive process is, should we leave it alone completely or set up guideliness as to how people can have kids?

So far, I have attacked your argument by pointing the simple fact that all you did was bring up one news article from the mid 1990's, which states that it is dubious what even really caused the defects.

Let me know defend the concept of designing a child how you want it. First of all, before a child is born, it is the property of the parents since a being has not come into existence. Parents can choose to follow strategies than increase the likihood of having a male or female baby, they can pick partners out based on traits, and they can even abort fetuses before they grow up to have conditions like spina bifida or Downs.

This is not unethical because no actual harm is being done, but rather future preperation. Genetic engineering gives us a vision into a future where hereditary diseases would be wiped out and also unfortunate social maladies.

I'm not going to argue that everyone who is short or slow has no right to live, but before that person is born, they have no interests, the only interests that count are those of the parents, unborn people don't exist and therefore have no interest. Who cares if a parent wants a tall child or one that has blonde hair? The only objection I see here is we might find out a lot about our own societies prejudices that we never wanted to admit, but what is "wrong" about this? Is it anymore wrong than a couple increasing the chances of having a deaf child? If you ask me, that seems a far worse fate to inflict on a child when you intentionally go after a "defect" rather than the best intentions of genetic engineering.

My arguement is then that this technology is incredibly new and needs not be condemned on purely theoritical grounds. What we have here is the basic right of the parents to have choice over the future child, and until that child is born and has interests of it's own, future interests don't count and the only the parents interests do. People choosing to have children with genetically "bad" partners is not seen as unethical, so why should the attempt to have a child who is free of hereditary disease genes? Or what if a parent wants a child who is tall? Is making that dream come true any worse than having the dream in the first place? There is a class of parent like that and a class that just wants the chips to fall where they may, it's all their decision.

but when we get to the point where having a child born with a defect is not a result of natural birth but of negligence considering the technology available in the future that could prevent it, what then?
Debate Round No. 1
Flyaway625

Pro

Flyaway625 forfeited this round.
CaptainTrips

Con

CaptainTrips forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Flyaway625

Pro

Flyaway625 forfeited this round.
CaptainTrips

Con

CaptainTrips forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by kels1123 9 years ago
kels1123
I agree with you , and I am interested to see what happens. Great topic
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Vote Placed by Debater2008 9 years ago
Debater2008
Flyaway625CaptainTripsTied
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Vote Placed by PreacherFred 9 years ago
PreacherFred
Flyaway625CaptainTripsTied
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Vote Placed by Chob 9 years ago
Chob
Flyaway625CaptainTripsTied
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