[extropy-chat] BIO: overtorqing the luddites

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed Feb 18 21:59:39 UTC 2004

--- "Robert J. Bradbury" <bradbury at aeiveos.com> wrote:
> But if one bars reproductive cloning on the basis of
> the probable increase in genetic defects one rides
> into a bioethics swamp.
> If you adopt a position that it is illegal to allow
> deformed children to be born -- then don't you have
> to
> bar the (informed) birth of children with Down's
> Syndrome,
> Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy and any of the
> other
> 5000+ known genetic diseases?

That's the direction I see the law heading towards.
Today, ethics aside, it is impractical to require all
potential parents to get genetic screening - and the
potential remedies (abortion, pills, and the like)
are not fully accepted or (in the case of gene
therapy) also not economically practical at this time
due to the immaturity of the technology.  So as a
practical matter, it would be useless to forbid birth

Once it does become practical, you can expect to see
this seriously proposed.  "What parent would want to
see their child born disabled, when it is so easy to
correct?  What reason is there not to require this,
other than to coddle irresponsible parents?  Won't
someone think of the children?"

But, today, reproductive cloning can be prohibited as
a practical matter.  It's only a step, but it's better
than nothing from this point of view.

> It is then but a small step to
> prohibiting
> reproduction by people with *any* genetic defect
> (and we all probably have 5-10 of them).
> You are on a *very* slippery slope.

Define "defect".  For things that everyone agrees are
defects, if they can be corrected, see above.  (If
they can not, then having children at all takes
precedence over having fixed children.  But I suspect
that this issue will seriously arise only after
genetic defects in unborn children can easily be
fixed.)  For things that not everyone agrees are
defects (for instance, deafness today), the debate
centers around whether the trait really is a defect.

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