Designer babies seem to have arrived while few have been paying attention. Some 28 Hollywood moms who shared the same sperm donor recently went on vacation. Sperm, eggs, embryos and the services of surrogate mothers are for sale; shoppers are using their own criteria for selection. So are sellers. “In vitro” birth clinics now market all the ingredients to manufacture human beings,
For someone prepared to pay for it, nothing prevents anyone from ordering an egg from a specified type of woman fertilized by sperm from a specified type of man to be implanted and delivered by a surrogate mother. Living as we do under Murphy’s Rules, we’d best assume that ‘what can happen, will happen.’ In reality, most of what we can imagine has likely already occurred in one place or another.
Low numbers resulting from limited scale and high cost have kept this from the headlines so far, but that seems unlikely to persist; such services are just too convenient to limit demand. And booming demand brings on affordable supply in the economic equation.
As in any form of consumer retail, such a marketplace guarantees some degree of warranty, with purchase return policies, a need for disposal of rejected product and buyers’ remorse lawsuits that drag in the government in the wake of court decisions. Government regulation seems unavoidable. Eugenics, anyone?
For God, this seems a lose one, win one sort of deal. His genetic lottery is abandoned to parental choice, leading our species in only He knows what direction. On the other hand, parents can no longer blame Him for Down Syndrome kids. His choices have flummoxed some parents but they have in the overall, kept the species progressing; we can only hope parental choice will do as well.
We can visualize only two outcomes for this: In the first, the government leaves it relatively alone, leaving all the inherent choices up to the various folks involved. We see such an outcome as both risky for the species and unlikely, given the nature of government. And we see government regulation as both likely and risky for the species. The reader is welcome to prefer his own predictions. Or better, hers. And in an effort toward current fashion, its.
An old story began with a baby found floating in a basket in the Nile; the contents of that one became an Egyptian prince. Subsequent stories depended upon infants found left alone on someone’s doorstep. Perhaps future stories will report the destinies of kids from the “Returned Goods” department?
We note that one of the rising characteristics of our post-Christian society is the commoditization of individual human beings. Commercializing reproduction as this does, is the ultimate denial of any human value beyond that assigned by the market. The same value system that ironically, was once reserved for slaves.