Back in February, Dr. Jeff Steinberg, director of Fertility Institutes in Los Angeles, announced that he would help couples choose the eye, hair, and skin color of their children using genetic embryo screening. "Genetic health is the wave of the future," he told the New York Daily News. "It's already happening and it's not going to go away. It's going to expand. So if they've got major problems with it, they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences, because there's nothing that's going to stop it."
As it happens, enough people did sit down, examine their consciences, and then stood right back up again: The public outcry eventually forced Steinberg's clinic to suspend the service. In its news release, the Fertility Institutes admitted that, "though well intended, we remain sensitive to public perception and feel that any benefit the diagnostic studies may offer are far outweighed by the apparent negative societal impacts involved." The clinic hasn't exactly stopped practicing eugenics. They still boast of a "100 percent sex-selection success rate"--meaning, of course, that embryos of the undesired sex are discarded. The clinic also screens embryos for "albinism or other ocular pigmentation disorders" as well as a range of genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome and hemophilia. Eugenics is fine, as long as you don't alter eye and hair color.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Wave of the Future
Writing in the May 2009 issue of First Things (still behind a subscription firewall), Editor Joseph Bottom notes an indicator of where our utilitarian society is headed.