“Making Babies Outside of the Womb Has Never Been So Easy” exclaims a new headline in The Atlantic. The article reports that one percent of children now born in the U.S. are conceived via reproductive technology in some form or fashion (IVF, sperm or egg donation, surrogacy, or a combination thereof).
As the author notes:
Now, doctors can sequence every letter of the genomes of IVF embryos and screen for genetic abnormalities. They can avoid diseases connected to mitochondrial DNA by creating embryos from three donors—one for the egg, one for the sperm, and a third for the mitochondria—all of whom transfer heritable DNA to any baby that results.
Perfect children! Ease of technology! Increasingly reduced costs! All of these things are hailed as the great hope and promise of reproductive technology. Sure, it’s not all perfect the author notes, but neither is the old-fashioned way of begetting children. Everything is a trade-off, she seems to say.
On such problem with this type of thinking—and the problems are legion—is that the focus is on the ease and desires of conception for the parents with no consideration for the children created from the process and no critical reflection on what the “process” actually entails.
Doctors and parents can “avoid” genetic abnormalities and keep trying until they create their perfect, suitable child. Sadly, there’s no mention of the fact that this might require the termination or destruction of multiple embryos. Disease-free children are the hope of the three parent embryo solution—but as recent news reports have revealed this is by no means a guarantee. In fact, the little scientific evidence available to us shows that animals haven’t fared well from the process. So why should we expect children to?
Perhaps it’s just me, but it doesn’t sound so easy after all.