Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Are You Serious?" Awards - Volume XXVIII: The Brave New World Edition

We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier to stomach.

And you may be tired of hearing me sound the alarm on this issue, but I would no more be silent about this than if I saw you in a burning house.  That is what this is -- The burning house of the special needs community that threatens to destroy those we love.  I'm talking about bioethics and how those with chronic illness or developmental disabilities are affected.

This week's award winners are the UK doctors who have produced the first IVF pregnancy using a new procedure that screens for genetic disorders before the embryos are implanted  

 Are you SERIOUS?!
Image courtesy of samarttiw via
Where to start with the myriad issues involved in this "Brave New World" achievement lauded by scientists?  How about the first basic tenet that every human life has value.  Each embryo destroyed, considered "less-than" because of detected genetic disorders deprives the world of an incredible human with infinite potential.  Even if that child has many difficulties, they hold value not in what they do, but in Who's image they bear.  They change those of us around them for the better, no matter what their challenges or abilities.  Having watched the national hemophilia community advocating more than a decade for the option of "choice" (ie the opportunity to abort when the disorder is prenatally diagnosed), I find it mind-numbing and heart-breaking to imagine life without so many of the wonderful individuals, including my son, whom I have come to know in the national bleeding disorders community.  A life with suffering is still a life worth living. 

The next issue is that when people say an embryo with a genetic "defect" is not worthy of life, they also unwittingly say that people like my son are unworthy of life.  It is not a far leap from destroying embryos to euthanizing individuals with genetic disorders because they monopolize too many medical resources, or because of their perceived suffering, or because of their limitations.  That ought to scare the daylights out of every single parent raising a child with challenges. 

The last issue (although I could continue with many more) is what happens when these "designer babies" fail to meet the expectations of the parents?  What happens when these perfect little embryos are implanted, but then result in a premature child who ends up with cerebral palsy or some missed illness?  Then what?  More of these awful "wrongful birth" suits?  Sounds like another great opportunity for trial lawyers and further human heartbreak to me.

No one needs to remind parents raising a child with chronic illness or disabilities that there are no guarantees in life.  Regardless of how much we try to play God when it comes to conception, there will always be difficulties in this broken, sinful world.  Even so, the joy our children bring to the world far outweighs any hurdles we may face.

Parents like us ARE uniquely equipped to shout to the world the incredible value every human life bears.  Don't be silent now when it comes to taking a stand against such abhorrent things as this new screening process for infants conceived through IVF.

~ Barb Dittrich

*For further reading:  New IVF Procedure Tests Embryos for Genetic Disorders

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is scary. Reminds me of the movie Gattaca, in all the wrong ways.