Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke points out a development reported in today’s Washington Post that reminds me of this woman. Great Britain has approved the screening of embryos for the propensity to develop cancer as adults.
The new decision expands that policy to include some genes that significantly increase the odds -- but do not guarantee -- that a person will get cancer. The policy also for the first time includes diseases -- primarily breast, ovarian and colon cancer -- that do not strike until adulthood and often respond to treatment…
The kind of testing in question, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, is conducted on one or two cells removed harmlessly from a three-day-old test tube embryo created by in vitro fertilization. If a cell is found to harbor an unwanted gene, that embryo is not used.
Just like the woman I encountered above, parents can seek to have a made-to-order baby. Right now the intent is avoiding cancer. What if we find a gene controlling diabetes,obesity, intelligence, or depression? This is what happens when the focus is on the utility of a life. Rather than accepting all life as a gift and acknowledging the intrinsic dignity of all life, this kind of policy encourages arbitrary measurements to judge the worthiness of a life.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, say a special prayer for all the parents who open themselves unconditionally to the gift of life.