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Should Parents Be Allowed to Design Babies By Selecting The Genetic Characteristics of Their Offspring?
Having a baby is perhaps the most exhilarating, exasperating and exciting experience in any human being’s life and as parents one always wants the best for their children. We want our children to be blessed with good health, great looks and high IQ. Recent developments in the field of assisted reproductive technologies and the field of genetics have paved the way for tailor made babies with a hefty price tag.
The field of genetics and scientists looking to solve conception problems in infertile couples received a shot in the arm when a team of scientists at University of Washington discovered a technique to unravel the genetic makeup of a fetus, it was proposed that this technique could help in screening for diseases and by use of Pre implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD or PIGD) the occurrence of certain diseases could be prevented in a newborn.
While there is a broad consensus amongst the scientific community and society at large that alteration of genetic makeup in order to prevent diseases is a noble pursuit, the proposed use of this technology to alter features like complexion, sex, height, eye color, intelligence , athletic ability etc. has raised many ethical questions. A few organizations are now offering a service which allows parents to choose what kind of phenotypic features or abilities they want their child to have by altering the genetic makeup of the child, such babies are known as designer babies.

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Though many sci-fi movies have shown the production of designer babies, in real life this concept is still in the pipeline. There are innumerable ethical, medical and social issues that have to be addressed, and an overview of facts shows that this technology should not be encouraged and parents should not be allowed to play God.
With certain specific genes being maintained preferably, there will be a deterioration in the quality of the genetic pool and people with similar characteristics might even be wiped out in case of any massive change in the environment. The problem of skewed sex ratio especially in societies where there is a preference for male child will further be escalated if parents have total control over the sex selection.
The technology that promises designer babies is still in its infancy, such genetically manipulated individuals may develop long term health issues and how an artificially created individual survives the environmental stimulus it will have to face is a matter of concern.
Parents must also realize that many human capabilities like intelligence, any sporting ability or height are not simply governed by a single gene; these features are a result of the interplay between various genes and the environment in which a child grows. It is also to be kept in mind that a gene has more than on effect so a parent might want a gene for blue eyes in his child but that gene may predispose the child to some disease thus putting the health if the child at stake.
Further, the designer baby is like ordering a set of goods online, of churning out similar looking assembly line products. No society can function by suppressing individuality. Since the technology for designer babies is extremely expensive only the rich can afford it so if it is allowed then social disparities and class division will increase.
The lessons of history must never be unlearnt. Hitler’s attempts to create a master class led to millions of deaths and humanity stooped to a horrendous level. The attempts to create a space for designer babies in the society can have similar ramifications. While it is obvious that we want our children to be as perfect as possible, but have be become so short sighted and materialistic that we have forgotten to celebrate the crooked nose, the elephant ears, the puppy fat and other individual quirks that make our children unique and lovable? We should strive to strictly control the genetic technology and parents must be counseled regarding the detrimental effects of this scientific misadventure.

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