In a world in which all people are valued equally, testing the entire genome of a gestating fetus would be a splendid way to allow parents to prepare to care for a child born with special needs. Alas, and to an increasing degree, our culture is one in which entitlement rules—including the presumption that we not only have the right to a baby, but to the baby we want.
That is why a potential new test to chart the entire genome of a developing fetus is so chilling. From the Telegraph story:
Scientists could soon be able to routinely screen unborn babies for thousands of genetic conditions, raising concerns the breakthrough could lead to more abortions. A team has been able to predict the whole genetic code of a foetus by taking a blood sample from a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant, and a swab of saliva from the father. They believe that, in time, the test will become widely available, enabling doctors to screen unborn babies for some 3,500 genetic disorders. At the moment the only genetic disorder routinely tested for on the NHS is Down’s syndrome.
This is a large-scale genetic defect caused by having an extra copy of a bundle of DNA, called a chromosome. Other such faults are sometimes tested for, but usually only when there is a risk of inheriting them from a parent. By contrast, the scientists say their new test would identify far more conditions, caused by genetic errors. However, they warned it raised “many ethical questions” because the results could be used as a basis for abortion.
This test, if it comes to pass, will not only be used to eradicate children with Down, cleft palate, and dwarfism—as already happens—but also the propensity for adult onset cancer. Oh yea, that already happens with embryo screening. And sex preference—oh, right—President Obama opposes outlawing sex selection abortion. And and think of this—if we discover a genetic component to homosexuality, the potential that the future child will be gay—homophobia could really strike a beat. The list of abortion excuses could spread into cosmetics, hair and eye color, height, propensity to weight gain, the list could go on and on
And, there will be pressure placed on parents to abort those children with the most serious or undesirable conditions—as already happens with Down. Such a test could become mandatory as a means of controlling health care costs. Gattaca, here we come—unless we strengthen our commitment to human exceptionalism and unconditional love of our children. In other words, this test will really be measuring the morality of our culture.