As researchers find out more about our genetic material and come up with ways to engineer our genes to enhance certain traits or prevent certain diseases from emerging, the less we should worry about genetic conditions or disorders arising from heredity. Right?
If you could use reproductive genetic technology to make sure that your child did not have a genetic disease, would you do it? That question is not science fiction anymore for many prospective parents.
If you have an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer because of a variant in your genes, there are now ways to make sure you don’t pass that pathogenic variant along to the next generation.
If you and your partner each harbor a single gene for spinal muscular atrophy—and with it a 25 percent chance that each of your children will be born with a life-threatening degenerative disease—we can remake the odds, assuring that all your children will be born healthy.
However, the question is no longer whether it is possible but rather is it accessible? These procedures aren't cheap which means only those with the resources can afford them leaving out people in lower economic classes who would also benefit if they could only gain access to it.
Apart from accessibility, there are the moral implications. Others doubt the ethics of the practice. Now that we are able to manipulate our genes, there is always the risk that this will be misused and abused.
Americans approve of interventions to reduce a child’s lifetime risk of cancer, but don’t want parents choosing their child’s eye color or selecting for higher intelligence, says an AP-NORC poll from 2018. We are in favor of healthier babies, but not “designer babies.”
What are your thoughts on the matter?
(Image credit: Bill Oxford/Unsplash)