More and more our children are seen as commodities and products of our own imagination. We want perfect children, designer babies, trophies to hang on our arms as we climb into our SUVs and zip off to soccer practice and music lessons. With the rise of pre-natal genetic testing and pre-implantation genetic testing (before the IVF embryos are put into the mother’s womb) comes all kinds of problems when we think we can, or should, determine who and what our children will be. Testing is becoming very routine and many of us are concerned that testing will dictate the outcome of a woman’s pregnancy. Healthy child – good Abnormal child- bad. But who decides? And what is healthy and normal? And why is is wrong or bad or undesirable to give birth to a disabled child? Today in Boston, 16 women have filed suit against Acu-Gen Biolab because its Baby Gender Mentor kit which promises 99.9% accuracy in sex determination did not accurately predict the sex of their embryos–and they want their $275 bucks back! And we have a strong legal history of wrongful birth cases around the world. Where parents who give birth to disabled children and then sue because they were not given enough information to choose to have a disabled child vs. aborting the baby. The lawsuit filed today underscores the reality that testing is fallible. False positives, false negative test results are not uncommon and we are literally making life and death decisions based on false information. More importantly though, it underscores the reality that we want better babies, perfect babies and that parents who choose to bring a disabled child into the world may soon be seen as negligent.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.