A doctor closes the door behind him and moves to sit down at his
desk. The young couple waits nervously to hear the results. The doctor
folds his hands and tells the expecting parents, “Your child will be born with
Downs’ Syndrome, an IQ of 72, and no matter what he does, he will
always have trouble keeping his weight down.” The couple winces in
disappointment. “But”, says the doctor, “There is a process by which we
can change all that for the better”. The process is called genetic
engineering, and it is closer than some may think. In Aldous Leonard
Huxley’s novel Brave New World, genetic engineering was a way of life
(Huxley). This world may become a reality before anyone can finish
arguing about it. Despite the recycled arguments that genetic engineering
is immoral and would create an automatic class system of discriminatory
society, the federal government should support genetic engineering
because it will serve to eliminate birth defects and decrease the risk of
disease, but it should be controlled.
“Genetic engineering” is a term used to describe the scientific
process of harnessing the biological phenomenon of DNA reproduction,
and manipulating its output for human benefit. “It actually involves taking
genes from their original locations and either transferring them elsewhere
or putting them back in the same organism in different locations” (“Genetic
Engineering” 1). Basically, genetic engineering will give doctors a vehicle
to manipulate the DNA of an unborn child. This child can be given or
deprived of any genetic trait. “Gene therapists’ ultimate goal is to direct a
gene to a specific target on a particular chromosome--ideally, to replace a
damaged gene by inserting a healthy version in exactly the same
spot”.(Henig 4)
Genetic engineering already exists in many forms. When animals
are bred with a particularly smart or strong mate in order to produce smart
or strong offspring, that is genetic engineering. It is also the abortion of a
fetus based on its genetic predisposition. Parents are given the option of
aborting their unborn child if it shows certain genetic qualities such as
Down’s syndrome, dwarfism, or Tay-Sachs disease (“Genetic Research”
2). Hitler’s extermination of Jews, and propagation of healthy,
blond-haired, blue-eyed Germans is considered a form of genetic
engineering, as is the sterilization procedures performed on the “criminally
insane” in Michigan around the turn of the century. This division of genetic
engineering is called “Eugenics”. “Eugenics refers to the recombinant DNA
technology to alter traits such as intelligence, personality, and organ
formation”(“Eugenic” 1). However, the upcoming techniques for genetic
engineering are more scientific, and will yield more tangible results. “Now,
if a parent wants a child that has a [sic] IQ of 150 and looks like Tom
Cruise, they can”.(“Eugenic” 1)
The only real opposition to genetic engineering is that it goes against
the Christian/Creationist belief that everything in nature was created by
god, thus it is perfect and should not be manipulated. In the majority of
documented cases, those who fear genetic engineering and think that it
should not be used in any form are those who generally have the least
knowledge about it, have the lowest IQs and do not believe in evolution
(“Public” 3). Opponents say that tampering with DNA is tampering with
“God’s work”. Historically, the most unreasonable opinions, and actions
have been the responsibility of religion. In certain situations, although a
proposed medical treatment is safe, proven to work and would be infinitely
beneficial to the patient, because of the patient’s religious beliefs(or those
of his guardians), the treatment has been refused (“Genetic Engineering”
5). It is no coincidence that those who oppose genetic engineering are
those with the least knowledge of its benefits.
One of the most profound benefits of genetic engineering will be its
ability to eliminate birth defects. Most birth defects are caused by a
mutation of some sort within the child’s DNA. Currently, if a child shows
the gene for a birth defect, there are two options: abort the fetus, or doom a
human being to an abnormally difficult life. With genetic engineering, there
will be a third choice: remove the defective gene, and/or replace it with a
good one. Religious groups should be pleased about the noted drop in
abortion this could cause. Since the child’s genetic defect is usually
hereditary, the benefits are twofold. Once the hereditary trait for
defectiveness is removed from a child’s genetic makeup, it will no longer
be part of that family’s future. The bloodline will continue without that trait
(“Genetic Research” 1). The more genetic engineering is used, the less
necessary it becomes.
Not only will they be born healthier, genetically engineered children