For most of human history, the mystery of life’s beginnings were tucked away inside the womb, safe from prying eyes and meddling hands. But in the last few decades, new technologies have changed all that.
For example, in-vitro fertilization, the process of joining sperm and egg in a laboratory and implanting the resulting human life in a gestational mother, has become commonplace, despite enormous ethical concerns. Many countries around the world have addressed those concerns in the form of laws.
Still, IVF is usually performed in large batches, due to the expense and pain involved in egg-retrieval. Often, dozens of mature eggs are harvested at a time, and only one to a handful are ever implanted after being fertilized. The remainder of the embryos are either destroyed or kept indefinitely in a freezer. In other words, human lives are created and then snuffed out in order to produce—most of the time, not all the time—just one baby.
But that’s far from the only moral problem spawned by IVF technology. Because embryos are created outside the womb, we now have the ability to genetically screen them, or to see ahead of time what sort of child each embryo will grow into, if allowed to live. Often, this technology is used to screen out heritable genetic diseases, like Down syndrome. This, of course, involves ending newly-conceived lives that don’t meet our standards of perfection. It’s killing, not curing.
That’s bad enough. But as Ariana Cha wrote recently in the Washington Post, the United States has become the go-to destination for parents hoping to select their baby’s sex, or even pettier traits like height, athletic ability, and eye color.
While countries like Britain, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and others have or are in the process of regulating the industry, in America fertility is treated like a McDonald’s drive-through. Would-be parents come from around the world to create made-to-order embryos in U.S. fertility clinics, and then select for non-medical characteristics like sex and eye color—a practice even China has banned.
By some estimates, the U.S. fertility industry is worth $5.8 billion, and growing—thanks in part to our shocking lack of oversight or ethical scruples. The Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics reported back in March that almost 73 percent of U.S. fertility clinics provide gender selection. Almost all of these offer the service to couples who have no fertility issues—in other words, to those who only use IVF purely as a means of getting a boy and avoiding a girl, or vice-versa.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris