Note: Since recording this script, the fertility clinic in Los Angeles, which announced in February that it would be allowing couples to pre-select embryos based on gender, hair, and eye color, has retracted the hair and eye color pre-selection option due to public outcry. While we are encouraged to hear that the company has changed these practices, the issue addressed in this commentary still remains a very real threat—one that Christians should speak out on.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones want a baby. They visit a fertility clinic and announce: "We want a boy—blond hair and blue eyes, please. We want him to be at least six feet tall, good at sports and have great musical ability."
"No sweat," the doctor says. Nine months later, baby Logan is born.
But for Logan's parents, things don't work out quite the way they expected. Despite his outstanding physique, Logan has no interest in sports. He likes to write poetry instead. As for music—yes, he's good at it, his genes have seen to that—but he'd much rather spend his time designing model airplanes.
Logan's parents are furious. They paid good money for a son who would make them proud on the athletic field and in the concert hall! Plus—the final insult—Logan dyed his blonde hair purple.
While this is not a true story, of course—but it could be soon enough. A Los Angeles fertility clinic now offers testing for "cosmetic selection." The procedure is known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. It involves removing a cell from an embryo and testing it for desired physical traits.
According to Dr. Jeff Steinberg, who runs the clinic, parents can choose the sex of their baby, and also pick out junior's hair and eye color. The babies will, of course, be free of inherited diseases. Dr. Frankenstein—I mean, Dr. Steinberg—checks for those, as well.
Dr. Gillian Lockwood, a British fertility expert, has a question for Steinberg. "What," she wants to know, "are you going to do with all those other embryos that turn out like me to be ginger [haired] with green eyes?"
The answer is that embryos who don't make the grade are destroyed—or sold to medical researchers.
It's the ultimate in consumerism—shopping for a baby the way you would for a car, choosing exactly the right color and accessories.
It's also the ultimate discrimination—refusing to allow "those people" (the sick, the unattractive, the short, the blind) to be born.
Inevitably, parents will begin to see their children not as precious gifts to be loved no matter what, but as consumer items to be coldly evaluated for any flaws.
Dr. Steinberg, says he's not traveling down "a dangerous road," merely "an uncharted one." He's wrong. The idea of designing a master race has been tried in the past—with horrific results.
Parents of Down Syndrome babies already report that doctors pressure them to abort. Given the cost of health care, how long will it be before all parents are required to have their embryos tested—and to kill the ones who don't quite measure up?
Christianity teaches that we are made in God's image, and that all human life has great worth, from the moment of conception until natural death. Remember, Jesus spent much of his earthly ministry curing the sick—not ignoring them, and certainly not killing them.
We need to press for regulations in this field. And we need to explain to our neighbors that by choosing which embryos will live and which will die, we are attempting to play God: vainly seeking to create life in OUR image, the ultimate affront to God.
And in the end, we will not be selecting perfect babies, but rather a horrifying future.