From the May 2004 Idaho Observer:
New ethics justify children being conceived and birthed to supply spare parts to seriously ill siblings
by The Idaho Observer
The Baltimore Sun reported May 5, 2004, that researchers are reporting the birth of five children from embryos created in a lab so they could serve as [stem] cell donors to seriously ill siblings.
Scientists at the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago say this is the first time embryos have been screened to make sure that the correct baby could be conceived for the sole purpose of donating lifesaving stem cells to a brother or sister in need of a transplant.
The slippery slope of family planning began when in vitro fertilization became possible in the early 90s. There was tremendous ethical opposition to the process initially, but then people just got used to the idea.
The debate surfaced again when it became possible for parents to choose the sex of their child or identify genetic disorders by screening embryos for certain markers. Now parents are able to screen embryos to make sure they will develop tissues compatible with those of older brothers and sisters who need replacement organs or stem cells.
Institute director Yury Verlinsky reportedly said that all five babies were born healthy and that the single transplant that has already been performed was successful.
The development opens the door to a new debate: Is it ethical to conceive babies solely to supply parts for older siblings?
This is quite a step from the ethical debate that erupted when technology allowed parents to choose a baby's sex. The debate soon evolved to the ethics of preventing the birth of children with markers for debilitating diseases.
The brave new world of the 21st century will go beyond babies being birthed as parts suppliers to whether or not it is ethical to create designer babies that will be born with specifically screened and selected physical characteristics and mental capacities.
So far science has gone forward without the ethics issues being legally resolved with each progressive step. It appears that each development becomes public soon after people get used to the previous one.
Embryo screening is largely unregulated in the U.S. and medical associations have taken no position on the ethics of this scientifically-advanced, formerly futuristic form of family planning. Is it okay to -- if there is a genetic marker -- pick the embryo with the highest IQ? asked Dr. Georgia B. Vogelsang, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
There can be little doubt that the science of family planning is going forward regardless of ethical considerations.
Aldous Huxley warned us in 1957 that a Brave New World is coming. The state of the science being reported to the public is at least three-fourths of the way toward the creation of a brave new society where people are grown to develop specific characteristics for their predetermined role in the brave new world order of the not-so-distant future.
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