I mentioned last week that I had started a fascinating book where medical ethics were at the center of the plot.
I finished the book over the course of a mere two days (review here) and no sooner had I finished, then I found this NY Times story about the very same subject: choosing embryos for specific medical reasons.
With one very big difference.
In the NY Times story the couple chooses an embryo to avoid passing along a gene that is near certain to result in a certain form of cancer. So the choice benefits the child itself.
In the novel the couple chooses an embryo that will be a good match for an already living child who is ill and needs a donor. So the choice does not benefit, in fact it places at risk, the child itself.
But the ethical issues abound even in cases like the former example. The Times story brings up the specter of genetic engineering, of eugenics, of creating a class divide between those who can afford the very expensive process required to do such genetic testing and choosing, and those who cannot. And of starting to make decisions made on much-more-ethically-questionable distinctions...like obesity!
Now, given my particular perspective, the question of whether the embryos which are not chosen are being "aborted" and if that's even an issue if they are, is not one of the most pressing ethical dilemmas. But of course other will disagree vociferously.
I'm most disturbed by the implications around class, gender and the potential for ever-more-narrowing of the "acceptable" criteria for a to-be-born child.
You know I've watched just one too many movie where the "ugly duckling" heroine achieves beauty by losing weight, taking off her glasses and, for some reason, straightening her hair. As a curly headed, myopic, zaftig woman...this bugs me. And you might be surprised that it's the hair thing that often bugs me most of all! So don't say that society would never "go there." They go there in pop culture all the time!
What, if anything, bothers you about the concept of such genetic testing and decision-making?