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Hum

The power to create ?perfect? designer babies looms over the world of prenatal testing.But what if doctors started doing the opposite?

Creating made-to-order babies with genetic defects would seem to be an ethical minefield, but to some parents with disabilities ? say, deafness or dwarfism ? it just means making babies like them.

And a recent survey of U.S. clinics that offer embryo screening suggests it?s already happening.

Three percent, or four clinics surveyed, said they have provided the costly, complicated procedure to help families create children with a disability.

Some doctors have denounced the practice; others question whether it?s true. Blogs are abuzz with the news, with armchair critics saying the phenomenon, if real, is taking the concept of designer babies way too far.

?Old fear: designer babies. New fear: deformer babies,? the online magazine Slate wrote, calling it ?the deliberate crippling of children.?

But the survey also has led to a debate about the definition of ?normal? and inspires a glimpse into deaf and dwarf cultures where many people do not consider themselves disabled.

Cara Reynolds of Collingswood, N.J., who considered embryo screening but now plans to adopt a dwarf baby, is outraged by the criticism.

?You cannot tell me that I cannot have a child who?s going to look like me,? Reynolds said. ?It?s just unbelievably presumptuous and they?re playing God.?

Embryo screening, formally called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, is done with in vitro fertilization, when eggs and sperm are mixed in a lab dish and then implanted into the womb. In PGD, before implantation, a cell from a days-old embryo is removed to allow doctors to examine it for genetic defects.

The entire procedure can cost more than $15,000 per try.

The survey asked 415 clinics to participate, 190 responded and 137 said they have provided embryo screening. The most common reason was to detect and discard embryos with abnormalities involving a missing or extra chromosome, which can result in miscarriage or severe and usually fatal birth defects.

PGD pioneer Dr. Mark Hughes, who runs a Detroit laboratory that does the screening for many fertility programs nationwide, said he hadn?t heard of the technology being used to select an abnormal embryo until the survey.

?It?s total nonsense,? Hughes said. ?It couldn?t possibly be 3 percent of the clinics? doing PGD for this purpose ?because we work with them all.?

He said he wouldn?t do the procedure if asked.

?To create a child with a disability because a parent wanted such a thing ... where would you draw the line?? Hughes wondered.

?It?s just unethical and inappropriate, because the purpose of medicine is to diagnose and treat and hopefully cure disease,? he said.

full article

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digipoi

Don't get me wrong, I dig all the neat stuff science can sometimes put forth, but this is so weird. Almost spells impending doom playing God.

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Cheshire Cat

I have no problems with genetically altering your baby to be healthier and disease or disability free, but actually making it have problems is just plain nasty..........

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Lee G.

I have no problems with genetically altering your baby to be healthier and disease or disability free, but actually making it have problems is just plain nasty..........

I completely agree.

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El Bourricot

The kid's genna be real happy with his parents:

"Hey Robert, you know that thing you have, like, being a dwarf, that all your friends at school have made fun of you for for the past 10 years? Well, we made you that way."

Although technically of course, they don't introduce a disease into the embryo, they merely select an already genetically defective embryo. So it fits in with Hypocratic ethics.

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Laura

Deaf people and others who try to claim they are not disabled are just finding ways to cope with their disability.

Deafness and other problems do limit your life no matter how much you try to claim otherwise. To force this onto a child is plain wrong.

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Fred Derf
PGD pioneer Dr. Mark Hughes, who runs a Detroit laboratory that does the screening for many fertility programs nationwide, said he hadn?t heard of the technology being used to select an abnormal embryo until the survey.

?It?s total nonsense,? Hughes said. ?It couldn?t possibly be 3 percent of the clinics? doing PGD for this purpose ?because we work with them all.?

I agree with this. It's total nonsense. I can't imagine any parent would want their child to be any less than perfect just to match themselves.

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digipoi

I agree with this. It's total nonsense. I can't imagine any parent would want their child to be any less than perfect just to match themselves.

Unless you're John Holmes eh?

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Dashel

Sounds pretty selfish on the part of the parents (thinks of the episode of House...).

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whitebread

I just read that article on MSN. It's some sick ****. It should be illegal.

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zeroday

This is why we should leave these things for nature to sort out. People become selfish and in the process destroy the lives of others.

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ranasrule

Unless you're John Holmes eh?

who would want a dong THAT big ?? every time u get an erection uf faint from lack of blood to the brain.

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Angelic Marge

There's no proof he was big, where's the evidence? According to his wife he was 10 inches :laugh:

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El Bourricot

There's no proof he was big, where's the evidence? According to his wife he was 10 inches :laugh:

True, that's actually quite small when you think about it ;)

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_sphinx_

Yet if this article was titled "Genetic engineering can cure hundreds of diseases", people would've praised the hell out of it....

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primexx

You're all tying your morals into this. But ask yourself: WHO'S morals? You shouldent be imposing your own morals on others, nomatter how "abnormal" theirs may seem to you. If they want genetically defect babies, then so be it, it's fully within their rights to do so. Let evolution weed these people out and dont interfere with the natural process.

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-Alex-

I, personally, do not agree with this..

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whitebread
You're all tying your morals into this. But ask yourself: WHO'S morals? You shouldent be imposing your own morals on others, nomatter how "abnormal" theirs may seem to you. If they want genetically defect babies, then so be it, it's fully within their rights to do so. Let evolution weed these people out and dont interfere with the natural process.
I hope you're kidding. Do you know anybody who is "normal" (and by that I mean no disabilities) who would wish to have a disability, however minor? I mean, come on! Not to mention the fact that you're contradicting yourself: you say "Let evolution weed these people out and dont interfere with the natural process." And yet, screening embryos is screwing with the natural process........ Which is exactly my point: nobody should be able to interfere, for good or bad, with natural selection.
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primexx

I hope you're kidding. Do you know anybody who is "normal" (and by that I mean no disabilities) who would wish to have a disability, however minor? I mean, come on! Not to mention the fact that you're contradicting yourself: you say "Let evolution weed these people out and dont interfere with the natural process." And yet, screening embryos is screwing with the natural process........ Which is exactly my point: nobody should be able to interfere, for good or bad, with natural selection.

Sorry let me clarify, if you go one level more abstract than our physical surroundings, there really is no "free will" as we perceive it. All our choice is determined by the state of electrons in our brains, which was affected by other electrons, and so on tracing back to our birth. Tracing back further, ultimately, the initial moment of the universe already pre-determined every little choice and action that every being has and will make. This was the sense of "natural" that I had meant in my post. So following this, playing with genetics is part of the "natural" process (being that we have "naturally" been "programmed" to do it), so is their choice.

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remix17

Sorry let me clarify, if you go one level more abstract than our physical surroundings, there really is no "free will" as we perceive it. All our choice is determined by the state of electrons in our brains, which was affected by other electrons, and so on tracing back to our birth. Tracing back further, ultimately, the initial moment of the universe already pre-determined every little choice and action that every being has and will make. This was the sense of "natural" that I had meant in my post. So following this, playing with genetics is part of the "natural" process (being that we have "naturally" been "programmed" to do it), so is their choice.

But you just said there is no free choice. You see no argument is possible if you assume complete determinism.

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Agnes Leroy
You're all tying your morals into this. But ask yourself: WHO'S morals? You shouldent be imposing your own morals on others, nomatter how "abnormal" theirs may seem to you. If they want genetically defect babies, then so be it, it's fully within their rights to do so. Let evolution weed these people out and dont interfere with the natural process.

But think your parents doing this to you.

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zhangm
Their newborn daughter died last year from a devastating dwarfism-related disease called homozygous achondroplasia. Dwarf couples have a 25 percent chance of having babies afflicted with the lethal condition, the same odds of having ?normal? children, but a 50 percent chance of having dwarf children.

When intentionally selecting for a trait with a greater chance of having a deadly condition, what is a doctor to d:whistle:tle:

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whitebread
But think your parents doing this to you.
It would be absolutely horrible, and I can easily see it be a hugely traumatic event when the kid found out they have problems because their parents were incredibly selfish :no: .
When intentionally selecting for a trait with a greater chance of having a deadly condition, what is a doctor to do? :whistle:
How could any doctor agree to do that? If I were a physician, and somebody came up to me and asked me to help them get a disabled baby, I'd tell them to get lost (but not that politely). That's like asking for a medical malpractice suit later on.
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