As the twenty-first century progresses, fiction is soon becoming reality. Babies with enhanced traits have been seen on the big screen, but with modern technology, they are coming closer and closer to our reach. Essentially, they would be created through genetically modifying embryos, manipulating the genome of a human embryo in a way that is meant to physically change the outcome of the baby, whether it be appearance-wise, preventing diseases, or anything of the like.
Because the gene editing would be happening to babies still in the embryotic stage, any modifications would be passed down to future generations. As a result, a broad ethical debate has arisen surrounding the topic.
On one hand, many believe the practice to be unethical, stating that scientists are messing with nature when it is not necessary. The relatively new technique still displays low success rates on the cells in culture that have been used, and unintended mutation in other parts of the DNA are fairly common as well. Also, because the alterations are happening in the embryotic stage, the child being affected does not have a choice in their future either.
On the other hand though, the pro side endorses modifying embryos because of its potential to prevent diseases like cancer, hemophilia, HIV, etc. Supporters believe that everyone with healthy children is worried about ethics, but in reality, this issue should be presented to those with children born with diseases like Huntington’s. With successful implementation of this technique the percentage of babies affected by diseases would dramatically decrease and eventually even be eliminated.
Knowing that there is still a ways to go before we can successfully edit the genes of embryos and then implant them, this topic will continue to be debated with strong arguments from both sides, either supporting the health benefits this technique provides, or opposing it due to ethical and safety concerns.